The Bar Room at the MOMA is the casual dining establishment of the supposedly more upscale and yet-to-open the Modern. We arrived at our 7 pm reservation last Friday to find a bustling and busy place that, contrary to my bar/lounge room expectation, looked more like a informal restaurant. The room has modern touches on the setting and furniture in a large and very open and bright setting. There were some hints of a lounge with long sofa seats alongside a long bar coupled with the buzzing crowd of chic and artsy-type clienteles.
While taking our order, our cheerful, but not overbearing, wait staff informed us about the limited size of the portions so as to plan our order accordingly. The portions were, to my estimate, about a one-third more than a regular tapas order. The food reflected the hometown of the chef, Gerald Kreuther, at Alsace. They ranged in price from $8 to $18 per dish. We had a very good house-made liverwurst that came with lingonberry (sp?) and mustard sauce, an excellent tarte flambé that looked like a small pizza but which was as thin as a crepe, and a good pork loin with sautéed sauerkraut. We also ordered the foie gras torchon and the tagliatelle with chantrelle which were good, but not as good as the other 3 dishes that I mentioned earlier. For dessert, we had a terrific beignet that came with chocolate and caramel sauce dipping and French Vanilla ice cream, all on the side. I think the dishes were somewhat reflective of the modernist environment that the Museum represented, both in presentation and creativity.
I took advantage of the corkage-waived BYOB offer (only until January 19) and brought a bottle of a 96 Leoville Barton which the maitred offered to decant upon seating us. The wine list was incorporated in the food menu and they seem to have about 20 offerings that looks to be all available by the glass and with the most expensive being a 2000 Rombauer Napa cabernet at $64 a bottle. Per bottle prices seem to average at around $35.
We had a total of 5 savory dishes that were sufficient enough not to leave us wanting more and although I felt that I was full enough to skip dessert, I was very glad when my wife insisted that we try the beignet.
Just a quick note - the restaurants 53rd Street entrance have just been opened last week. From what I was told, the Bar Room was actually open since Novembers but only through the doors from inside the museum. Hence, it could mean that they just opened to the non-going-museum public just last week. Perhaps, somebody here can confirm or correct this. This would probably explain the somewhat confusing service that we received form 2 or 3 different maitred or floor-manager-looking black suits and about 4 different wait staffs. For example, we were specific about having our espresso and regular coffee after our dessert, yet, one wait staff brought our coffee ahead of our desserts.
In spite of the slight inconsistency in service, this was a positive experience for us and we look forward to going back.