I wanted lunch and although I didn't eat at either one when I visited MOMA Sunday afternoon because of the crowds at both restaurants, I did come away with impressions which unfortunately are negative.
The ground floor space is the restaurant that a museum guard told me is the 'fancy' one. I guess this is the Danny Meyer jewel. I entered a long hallway and was met by two hostesses. A sign says they are serving a limited menu until January. A quick glance of the menu showed entrees between $16 to $18 like wild salmon and bass. I really didn't study the menu as I wanted to look more at the room since it was so crowded to dine there.
To the left is a bar where every seat was taken and people were eating and drinking. The room reminded me of a fancy airport restaurant and had a closed feel to it. Other diners were seated at uncomfortable looking chairs and tables. I wondered - where was the outdoor garden? Other people arrived so I wandered off before the hostess saw me. I saw an empty section that was sealed off with a partition which will be open later in January that does overlook the sculpture garden. This is probably the fancier even more expensive deal. So for now I would say if you want to visit MOMA have lunch someplace else first.
I went upstairs to the 2nd floor where the less expensive Italian-style cafe is. A long long queue of people stood patiently on line waiting to order paninis, soup, salads, cappuccino, desserts. The food really was no different than that offered at the new-style delis that offer paninis at busy midtown locations at lunchtime. The seating resembled a fancier version of high school cafeteria assembly. I waited on line for about ten minutes and then left.
I wondered - was I really at the new highly hyped multi-million dollar Museum of Modern Art? Well, all the glorious art and beautiful space is still here. It's just the chow and space was IMO given very little thought. What was Danny Meyer thinking?
I'm a MOMA member so I'll go back at a less busy time during the week when the crowds are thinner. I am glad the MOMA is back in Manhattan and I hope the restaurants and cafes get up to speed.