The Modern inside the Museum of Modern Art always shows up on NYC’s Restaurant Week list and always gets completely booked well before I’m even aware Restaurant Week is upon me. This summer, my boyfriend and I attempted a walk-in and almost got laughed out of the place, so we decided to plan ahead and save it for our anniversary.
Here’s the tasting menu, served in the formal dining room:
amuse bouche: porcini- and rosemary-dusted popcorn
The flavoring on this was too uneven to make much impact, but we liked the idea of it a lot.
amuse bouche: deconstructed vichyssoise: russet potato, leek soup sphere
Quite an impressive presentation, right? Between this and the spork, the flatware coolness wasn’t lost on us.
amuse bouche: nori rice crisp, celeriac purée, hackleback caviar
Surprisingly, though, this was my favourite of the amuses. Surprising because I haven’t traditionally been the world’s biggest fan of the flavor of the ocean. This was just so fresh-tasting and so salt-concentrated, though, that I couldn’t help myself.
amuse bouche: pâte à choux, avocado purée
my boyfriend’s red bell pepper cocktail
fennel souflée, tomato confit, tomato gelée, candied fennel
Tomato even a bona fide anti-tomato activist like me could enjoy. I guess everything tastes good when you cook it in fat and garnish it in sugar.
“milles feuilles” (thousand leaf, meaning layers) of summer truffle, diver scallops, and watermelon, arugula coulis, sustainable Osetra caviar
This was the only total miss of the night, probably because it had such potential to be a hit. With all of those luxury ingredients, you’d think it would’ve blow our minds with flavor, but it was bland and mushy. The truffle taste wasn’t detectable at all, and the only texture interest came from the caviar.
chilled sweet corn soup, pearl onions, poached quail eggs, hickory smoke
The corn was freeze-dried! And it totally made the dish. I love corn anything to begin with, but everything about this soup was a delight, from the temperature to the herbs to the smoke to the soft eggs with their liquid interiors.
grilled Sullivan County foie gras, champagne-vinegar-preserved strawberries, harissa tuile
Maine lobster tart, fennel purée, red sorrel, “lobster granité”
To be completely honest, this dish didn’t pack a whole lot of flavor. But chewy, gummy lobster and flaky crust are such a good texture combination. Is that a terrible way of describing the way lobster feels in your mouth? It’s one of the few seameats I really, really like, so I don’t want to do it injustice, but you have to admit that it’s totally weird to eat.
bulgur-wheat-crusted john dory, roasted black cherries, lemon verbena oil
I basically just wanted to try the john dory because Chef Gordon Ramsey serves it a bazillion times on every season of “Hell’s Kitchen”. It was a little too fishy for me, but I liked the earthy tones of the wheat and cherry.
Modern “pot au feu” served two ways: New York prime strip loin, summer vegetables, basil emulsion; braised cheek, pommes fondantes
The little copper pot of ultra-tender and sweet beef cheek was definitely the best of the entrees for both of us.
strawberry basil gelée, pistachios, strawberry balsamic foam
buttermilk panna cotta, strawberry soup, pistachio ice cream, caramelized tuile
Dr. Boyfriend didn’t care much about this dessert, but I thought each component was delicious in itself and that the sum of the parts was even greater. The strawberries were refreshing but not too light in their syrupy cold soup, and that sweet, crunchy tuile was such a great texture addition. Dipped in the caramel on the side of the bowl, the tuile was probably my favourite part of the dish.
chocolate petit fours
We made a major mistake at this point, and I want our blunder to serve as warning to you. We had seen this wheeled cart brimming with chocolate treats making the rounds, and figuring it was an additional charge, discussed whether or not we had the room in our stomachs to make it worth our while. Of course it turned out to be included with the tasting menu, and of course we pansied out and only got four pieces for the two of us. As soon as we tasted them, we realized what idiots we were and wanted to call our server back over, but we were too embarrassed to be seen as double-dippers.
LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKE. Take one of everything on the cart and store it in your cheeks for later if you need to.
Chocolate Cones with Maple Ice Cream and Raspberry
This was a solidly delicious and inventive meal and probably would’ve received 4.5 donuts had we not been to other restaurants that just plain packed more flavor into their dishes. I do agree with the single Michelin star it’s had for several years, and I certainly think it’s a worthwhile member of the Danny Meyer restaurant group, but it just didn’t live up wholly to my expectations. There’s really something special about eating inside a museum, but The Wright at the Guggenheim is a better bet for your money.
9 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019 (map)