I had been looking forward to dining at The Modern for quite some time now. From the outside, you can’t tell much. Its entrance almost blends into the other buildings were it not for the menu, glowing and hanging by itself. Walking in along the curved lighted corridor, you definitely get the impression that the restaurant is an extension of the museum just steps away.
My friends and I arrived promptly for our 8pm reservations on a Tuesday night and were seated shortly thereafter. As we were led past the bar room, I couldn’t help but notice how busy and lively the atmosphere was. Just around the bar room is the spacious dining room. Enormous floor to ceiling windows occupy one side of the dining room, overlooking the sculpture garden. I was pleasantly surprised that hardly any of the energetic noise from the bar room could be heard around the corner. Vibrant green and deep purple flowers nicely complemented the white decor of the dining room.
After being seated, the sommelier was very knowledgeable and helpful in recommending a nice Pinot Noir given my taste preferences and price range. The bread came in a nice transparent glass ‘seashell’, accompanied by 2 types of butter (typical yellow butter and a delicious white goat cheese butter) sitting on their own marble slabs. Unfortunately, the bread was too hard and did not have much taste. And while the presentation was nice, it was annoyingly difficult to cut into the butter with them sliding everywhere on the marble.
We decided to go with the 4-course prix fixe for $98 on this particular night. To our delight, we were brought not one, not two, but 5 amuse bouches. The first two consisted of a nice citrus-y crudo and a cube of goat cheese covered with something crunchy that tasted familiar but I cannot recall now. Both were pretty good. Unfortunately, none of us were fans of the third amuse bouche. Popcorn with hints of citrus tasted almost like fruit loops, something I prefer not to think of during a nice meal. However, next was a light but flavorful soup with pomegranates served in a test tube. Very creative presentation, but I personally felt that a nice shot glass instead of the test tube would have made it easier to drink and enjoy. Lastly, we enjoyed a skate terrine in saffron broth with a squid ink marshmallow on the side. The marshmallow was a small squishy burst of flavor.
To start off my prix fixe, I chose the diver scallop, yellowfin tuna, and scottish salmon dish. All the seafood was fresh and well-seasoned differently. A solid dish, but nothing spectacular. Next, the Long Island duck and foie gras ravioli was by far the best dish of the night. Rich foie gras with tender chunks of duck tucked inside a nicely wrapped ravioli, paired with earthy black truffles, made for a savory and delicious second course. I wish I could have had 4 courses of just that. For my third course, I went with the crispy veal sweetbread and veal tortellini duo. The sweetbread had a nice texture with the added crunch, but the tortellini was quite bland and lacking in flavor. It just seemed like a lifeless glob stuffed inside a fried outer coating.
The dessert portion of the night started with the fourth course, mango craquelin. Everything on the plate worked together, but I can’t say anything stood out in particular. I mentioned dessert started because after we were done with the fourth course, a cart full of almost every chocolate imaginable came rolling around to our table. Different flavored chocolate pieces, chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, chocolate lollipops, etc. You name it, they had it. And after you were done satisfying your sweet tooth, everyone received their own little ice cream cone! If that weren’t enough, the ladies at the table were given boxes of buttery chocolate-filled cakes before leaving.
As with other Danny Meyer restaurants, service was very good. Presentation was top notch and very artistic. All the extra amuse bouches and desserts were a nice bonus, but in my opinion, unnecessary. I almost felt that they distracted from the main courses. Overall, food was disappointing (with the exception of the ravioli). I expected something phenomenal for the price tag on the meal, but left disheartened.