Dinner at The Modern
Had a knock-out dinner at The Modern a fine dining restaurant located inside the Modern Museum of Art where Alsatian born chef Gabriel Kreuther is turning out some of the most gorgeous and delicious food around. I certainly found that its Michelin star and 3 stars from the NY Times, well deserved!
We arrived a few minutes early for our 7:00 PM reservation and were at first seated at a horseshoe shaped banquette easily large enough for a party of 4. We liked the fact that we could sit right beside each other and both face out to the whole dining room but quickly discovered that in order to use the back of the built in leather seat, we would both have needed to be quite a bit stouter than we are to comfortably reach the table. Knowing that I would need to have some back support to really enjoy a long meal, we asked to be moved to one of the empty 2 tops on the other side of the room. The staff quite graciously honored our request and we were soon happily ensconced in extremely comfortable leather chairs that we could pull up as close or as far away from the table as we desired at any given moment, right beside a wall of windows that looked out onto the lovely MoMa sculpture garden.
Our request for sparkling water speedily filled, we settled in to peruse the menu and were quickly supplied with some tasty and creative hors d’oeuvres to enjoy while making the weighty decision about what to order for dinner. The Modern dining room offers only a choice of a 4 course prix fixe, 3 savories and one sweet for $98 or the chef’s tasting menu for the whole table that offers 7 savory courses as well as a trio of desserts for $135. Wine pairings are offered for and additional $135. There is also a fine looking cheese cart available to add to either menu
While everything on the tasting menu looked divine, each course from the 4 course option offers the diner 7 or 8 different choices so we decided that rather than both eat the exact same dinner, we’d each order what appealed most to us individually and share bites, a strategy that frequently employ and seems to work well for us. And this was no exception. What followed was one of the most delectable and enjoyable meals of my fine dining career and that’s saying a lot!
We began with an amuse of nettle panna cotta with a nasturtium and Riesling sauce, the peppery sauce a perfect accompaniment to the fresh spring green taste of the creamy panna cotta. Off to a fantastic start we eagerly awaited the rest of the meal, barely bothering with the bread, a French roll and a whole grain served with perfectly spreadable but, to me, slightly funky tasting butter. I was saving my stomach space for the meal and I was glad I did.
For my first course, I ordered Wagu Beef and Foie Gras “Damier” Passion Fruit Gastrique, a gorgeous presentation of a checkerboard of small squares of raw beef and smooth foie, each enhancing the rich flavor of the other and both brought to heavenly heights by the tart passion fruit sauce. Paul’s Foie Gras Terrine with Roasted Artichokes, Green Peppercorn and Baby Turnip was also sublime, served with buttery, crisp toast points and topped with a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Smooth and rich, that little bit of maple sweetness really made the flavors pop!
For my next course, I went with Potato Gateau, a crisp packet of thinly sliced potato filled with Benton’s country ham, pearl onions and comte cheese, topped with a few drops of pumpkin seed oil and toasted pumpkin seeds. A wonderful combination of flavors and textures, this dish brought the idea of a “hot pocket” to new heights. Paul went with Hamachi, Sea Urchin, and Fennel Tart, an incredible taste of pure ocean floating on a mellow flavored fennel puree atop a crisp pastry round. A truly spectacular dish.
For our final savory course, I went for Organic Veal Tenderloin, Black Truffle, Asian Pear and Spinach and Fine Herbs Puree. The veal was fork tender and the flavors earthy and rich. I especially enjoyed the taste of the spinach puree with the veal. Paul’s Long Island Duck Breast was brought out whole and sliced tableside, a production that was fun to watch but I’m not sure necessary. But the duck was tender and delicious, topped with a crust of black trumpet “marmalade” and served with a sauce made from Banyuls wine. But my favorite thing on the plate was a “Fleischschneke” of duck confit: a spiral of the confit rolled in a thin crepe. Yum!
After polishing off the plates, we placed our orders for dessert and eagerly awaited the sweet treats to come. I had seen the sweets trolley making its way around the dining room and knew that some great chocolates would be enjoyed with our after dessert coffees and found myself appreciating how perfect The Modern’s portion sizes were. Each serving was enough to really enjoy and feel satisfied with all of the flavors, even sharing bites with my dining partner, but not so much that I felt stuffed before dessert was served. What a pleasure it was to be anticipating dessert without feeling as if I would bust before tasting more than a few bites!
Desserts did not disappoint, and I happily polished off the Chocolate and Hazelnut Dacquiose, crisp and chewy, encased in a layer of buttery caramel and served with a fresh raspberry sorbet. Paul’s Lemon Napolean was not quite as rich, but scrumptious as well with smooth, tart lemon curd layered between thin crisp rounds of caramelized crepes and served with finely chopped exotic fruits and a truly spectacular fromage blanc sorbet. My only complaint is my usual pet peeve of how tiny the scoops of sorbet were. I admit I could have happily polished off a pint of the fromage blanc sorbet but I’m not exaggerating to say there was less than a teaspoon on the plate with the Napolean. I never can understand why so many fine dining establishments are so stingy with the frozen accompaniments to their desserts!
After finishing the desserts, we ordered double decafe espressos and tried to exhibit a little restraint while choosing treats from the sweet trolley. Fortunately, we were beginning to feel full by this point so while I definitely wanted 1 of everything, I limited my choices to a couple truffles, a chunk of chocolate ganache cake, and a caramel and pinapple chocolate covered “lollipop.” Paul tried the candied nuts, a chocolate chip cookie, and some nut filled truffles. A veritable feast of fudgy fantasies, perfect with the steaming hot espressos.
Fully satisfied, we were ready for the check but before they brought the bill, they delivered 2 miniature ice cream cones, a mix of rich vanilla bean ice cream and raspberry sorbet. A playfully sweet end to a truly spectacular meal.
A note about the service at The Modern: They use a team approach so we didn’t have one person who was our primary waiter and we interacted equally with at least 5 different staff people over the evening. Everyone was prompt, courteous and knowledgeable but some were warmer than others. Personally, I prefer to develop a bit of a relationship with my wait person over the course of a long dinner but I still thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would go back in a heartbeat. For this kind of dining at this price point, I believe it’s one of the best to be found anywhere.
You can see pictures of the meal here: http://eatsobsessed.wordpress.com/201...
9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
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