Had a very nice italian dinner at Lisca on Amsterdam and 92nd. Service was friendly, decor was casual bistro, and the food was satisfying. The fried calamari appetizer was small but tasty with a small tomato/arugula salad. The special pasta of carrot/ricotta gnocchi with pesto was delicious, light and garlicy (I believe it came with small clams). The osso bucco with saffron rissoto was hearty and satisfying. Tiramisu was light and good, and the apricot tart was adequate. We will return again when in the area for comfy italian food.
The Dining Room at the Modern was a very pleasant surprise as I don't like Union Square Cafe at all (USC=pre-cooked, re-heated food). The service was excellent, and the room was quiet and pretty with views overlooking the sculpture courtyard. (request a table by the windows for the best view). The food was the nicest surprise, in fact it is currently our favorite restaurant at the moment. Very well prepared, top quality, organic/free-range delicous food, cooked lightly with lots of flavor. We had the sauteed foie gras appetizer which was perfectly cooked, the deboned squab/foie gras croustillant with baby vegetables was a perfect blend of textures and flavor, and the angus beef tenderloin was one of the best, if not the best beef that my friend has had. The chocolate dessert was a nice selection of 3 chocolate desserts. My friend had a caramel dessert which wasn't as good as the chocolate dessert. Part of the surprise was the 2 delicious amuse bouches at the begining, first an edible purse of trout eggs (possibly with creme fraiche?), and then a warm amuse of a single shrimp, accompanied by a small cup of delicous shrimp broth poured over sunchoke foam. Yummy. There was a cute palate cleanser of foam/sorbet on a curved spoon after the entree. And a large selection of petite four and chocolates after dessert (which we took with us as we were too full to enjoy them). And to go, a small loaf of fruit cake for the morning meal. We ate at Per Se twice in December 2004, and while it was fun, we were not impressed enough to return again. The food at The Modern Dining Room was better than Per Se's at 1/4 to 1/3 the price. Highly recommended for a special meal.
That same weekend we ate at The Modern Bar Room (on Sundays the Dining Room is closed). The food was generally good, with a choice of 3 pages of appetizer sized plates. However the prices range from $9 to $19 per plate, so you can will easily spend enough here for 3 or 4 small plates that you could spend on a full sized dinner somewhere else. The tables are close and casual, the room is dark and noisy, and the service was actually horrible. We ordered a specialty drink, "coming up roses" as soon as we sat down (rose petals, rose water, lightly sweet alcoholic drink), but we didn't get it until 45 minutes later, about 5 minutes after our first appetizer arrived. We never got the bread basket that was on other tables, and we never saw our waiter again except once as I saw him stroll casually from a back room to the kitchen. We had informed him that we had to leave in 1 1/2-2 hours for a show, and he had said no problem. We got our 3rd appetizer 1 hour and 45 minutes later, leaving barely enough time to eat and pay the bill, and no time for dessert. The table next to us also skipped dessert as they said they did not want to wait another hour to get it. The tarte flambee, a large thin crusted pizza topped with onions, ham, and marscapone(?) was delicous, as was the homemade pork and cabbage sausage. The foie gras torchon was standard but OK, the warm veal and goat cheese terrine was nothing special. The wild salmon with horseradish crust was adequately cooked but not flavorful. Overall good food, poor service, high prices and poor decor. Not recommended.