May 30, 2011

Dinner at the modern

I sought Jimmy's help to write up this post, but naturally he would spew out a novel, so this is an edited down version. I think he is much better at articulating our restaurant experiences, so you may see more of his posts in the future! Any annotations in parentheses are my add-ons. Ok, let's carry on.

The Modern is the restaurant that has sat on our “to visit” list the longest. We’ve had a number of near-misses but finally went for dinner last Wednesday.

Upon entry, we were escorted to a seat next to one of the windows looking on the MoMA’s garden. This proved a disadvantage later in the evening when they turned on the lights outdoors, leaving us with nasty mixed light and some weird shadows from the window bars. (What a nightmare to process! Very inconsistent white balance throughout... yuck.)

The food at the Modern is just about the opposite of that at Untitled, its USHG museum restaurant sibling. Chef Gabriel Kreuther serves excellent high-end Alsatian-inspired contemporary French cuisine. This is unabashedly restaurant food of close to the highest caliber available here, and it has the Michelin star to show. We started with an assortment of delectable canapés, followed by an intense nettle panna cotta that was indulgent and healthy at the same time. My actual first course was a “damier” of wagyu beef and foie gras. The richness of both components paired well with each other, while the accompanying passion fruit gastrique provided a delightful counterpoint. Alice had a tartare of yellowfin tuna and diver scallops, which did a great job of showing off the excellent ingredients.

Our second courses were a Loup de Mer “soufflé”, excellently cooked though only very barely reminiscent of a soufflé, along with a delightful hamachi, sea urchin, and fennel tart that really demonstrated the kitchen’s skill in working with pastry elements in savory courses. Our last savories were a piece of very flavorful chicken breast accompanied generously by morels for me, along with a fantastic duck course with tableside preparation that has to be seen to be believed.

It’s no surprise that desserts were excellent. I voluntarily ordered a lemon dessert for the first time that I can remember and was anything but disappointed. Alice’s strawberry-rhubarb vacherin was pretty good too. We could not have asked for a better way to finally conclude the meal than with selections from the three-level petits fours trolley (what a tease that thing is!). My only regret was not ordering some selections from the cheese cart that I’d seen being wheeled around, though I don’t know how I would have made the space in my stomach.

This is one of the best restaurants in New York. Eleven Madison Park may be the darling of Danny Meier’s stable, but the Modern is not to be missed.

(Thanks, Jimmy!)


  1. the food presentation is gorgeous! looks like jimmy is a natural at this food-writing business, but i definitely enjoy the funny bits of alice's add-on's.

  2. Wow, impressive. Love J's writing; bring on the novel! Your personal annotations make it "you," though.

    Ooh, and we get a bonus movie. Pass the duck-fat popcorn, please!

  3. What delicious food photos. It all looks so delicious. Should I even come to New York ... I have to go there. I especially like the fork and the plate on the 2th photo.

  4. Amazing food photos inspite of white balance difficulties ;)
    Very well done =)

  5. Great recapitulation :) The Modern is one of my favorite places in town!

  6. Beautiful dishes! Bookmarked