The Modern at MoMA – American (New)/French – Midtown West
January 7th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

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:

The Modern
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.

The Modern
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.

The Modern
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.

The Modern
amuse bouche: pâte à choux, avocado purée

The Modern
my boyfriend’s red bell pepper cocktail

The Modern
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.

The Modern
“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.

The Modern
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.

The Modern
grilled Sullivan County foie gras, champagne-vinegar-preserved strawberries, harissa tuile

The Modern
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.

The Modern
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.

The Modern The Modern
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.

The Modern
strawberry basil gelée, pistachios, strawberry balsamic foam

The Modern
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.

The Modern
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.

The Modern
Chocolate Cones with Maple Ice Cream and Raspberry

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarZero Stars

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.

The Modern
9 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019 (map)

10 Responses  
  • plumpdumpling writes:
    January 7th, 201112:29 pmat

    If you’re interested, one of my favourite reviews of this restaurant was posted by Law & Food, and they call this place “a masterpiece”, so I guess it’s all a matter of taste.

    Except where the milles feuilles is concerned, because they didn’t like that, either. Boo-yah.

    • LawandFood writes:
      January 12th, 20113:26 pmat

      Thank you very much for the link to our review!

      I’m sorry you were blown away by The Modern (Dining Room). I will say that one possible explanation for the discrepancy re the meal may be the fact that my gf and I each ordered a different tasting menu, so we effectively had twice as many courses as you and your bf.

      Regardless, glad you didn’t totally dislike the experience. Next time you should consider Eleven Madison Park for a special meal. They have raised their prices since revamping the restaurant, but I was blown away by a lunch I had last week. I have a dinner reservation next Saturday and will be posting about each meal soon.

  • Ells writes:
    January 7th, 201112:48 pmat

    I don’t feel like a food dummy until I read your NY food reviews … I had to look up a few things.

    Let me know if you want guests posts from small town South Carolina, in which I debate the merits of the chinese food restaurant in my tiny town (which doesn’t taste as bad as you’d think, judging by the way their bathroom smells) with the japanese restaurant in the town where I work, which serves fried rice with mayo sauce.

    Also: I want to go to there.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      January 10th, 201111:02 amat

      Oh, sorry; I try to explain the things I don’t think people will know, but I kind of assume everyone knows more than I do. Especially when it comes to the French crap. I actually signed up for French in high school, but they made me take Spanish because the French classes filled up, and they wanted to let the “less privileged” students take it first. I would’ve fought it had I known how much it’d hurt me later on.


      Dude, I would love guest posts from you! Especially if you go to all of the places I remember from my J,LC days, like Andolini’s and Mellow Mushroom. And especially because I see nothing inauthentic about rice with mayo.

  • Heesa Phadie writes:
    January 7th, 20112:35 pmat

    That corn soup looks and sounds amazing.

    Haha. Laughing so hard at the john dory…it’s like the only fish Ramsey serves, WTF!? I hate that.

    That lobster, and that steak mmmmm.

    Another thing I’ve never had is foie gras. What’s wrong with me. I need to try all these delicious foods you try. You’re so lucky being in NYC. Damn you.

    OMG! I’m not even a fan of strawberries but that buttermilk panna cotta, strawberry soup, pistachio ice cream with the caramelized tuile…that just looks incredible. And, cuss me, those truffles and that ice cream, you know me…I’d devour those in second. Oh man…I would never let embarrassment stand between me a some more sweets. I would elbow my own grandma out of the way for more of that.

    This is by far the best looking overall meal to me that you’ve reviewed in a bit. It just all looks and sounds incredible. I’m drooling on my keyboard right now.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      January 10th, 201111:16 amat

      It’s all john dory and lobster risotto on that show. I actually went to one of his restaurants and didn’t have either of those things, though, so apparently he doesn’t put them on his real menus.

      Dude, you NEED foie gras. From all I know about you, you’d love it. It’s, like, the richest, most luxurious ingredient out there. But seriously, I can’t imagine I would’ve had it by now if I was still living in Ohio.

      Now that we’ve learned our lesson about the dessert cart, we’re always looking for it at other restaurants and are constantly being disappointed. Your grandma is a very unlucky woman.

      After being blown away by the tasting menu at Daniel this weekend, we were talking about the difference between it and The Modern. One of the main ones–which you brought up here–is that all of the dishes at The Modern LOOK amazing, while all of the dishes at Danile TASTE amazing. Just wait.

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    January 7th, 20116:07 pmat

    This is exactly what I would expect a tasting menu from a restaurant in MoMA to look like, and I’m glad it was tasty to boot.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      January 10th, 201111:20 amat

      Oh! That’s perfect. I just told Mr. Phadie in the comment above yours that everything at The Modern looked amazing, while everything at the restaurant where we dined this weekend tasted amazing. I never considered that a museum restaurant might put even more emphasis on plating than other restaurants do, but of course that makes sense. Genius, you.

  •» Blog Archive » Corton – French/American (New) – Tribeca writes:
    September 22nd, 201112:09 pmat

    […] Maybe I had my hopes a little too high for an amuse combining one of my very favourite flavors on Earth, corn, with its favourite Southwestern companion, the black bean, in my favourite presentation, the egg cup. I loved the idea of it, but the corn jelly at the bottom of the egg was basically unflavored. The black bean was airy like a mousse and stained our teeth wildly, so we used our champagne like mouthwash. The really enjoyable part was the corn itself, which was slightly chewy and reminded me of the excellent freeze-dried corn in a soup at The Modern. […]

  • NYC Restaurant Reviews » The Lunch Tasting Menu at Gramercy Tavern writes:
    April 4th, 20133:43 pmat

    […] a part of the Danny Meyer/Union Square Hospitality family of restaurants that includes Shake Shack, The Modern, and formerly Eleven Madison Park. With the Shake Shack burger being my favourite in NYC and Eleven […]

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