Top Notch Summer Tasting: The Modern

Another weekend, another Michelin star rated restaurant.

A milestone anniversary for my parents found me at Danny Meyer’s stronghold at the MoMA, The Modern. My parents have always revered milestones, making sure we pay them due respect…I’m not really complaining. Old world traditions I guess, but us kids always took part in the celebration of their anniversary. After spending the afternoon at the MoMA, we walked over to The Modern to celebrate in style. The restaurant is actually a very similar concept to Jeans Georges, with the Bar Room upfront (like Nougatine) and the even fancier The Modern, tucked away, gloriously facing the sculpture garden at the MoMA. The atmosphere is just as its namesake promises, with class and design executed perfectly from the tall windows to the napkin rings.

Given the inside scoop by none-other-than native New Yorker, Nance, we got to the restaurant early and requested to have drinks on the outside patio. Apparently a best kept secret, the weather proved to be perfect for lounging about on the sofas overlooking the sculpture garden. Being the only people on the patio, the atmosphere felt special, if not downright exclusive. My mother being the extravagante that she is, soaked up every moment of the evening. (I got those same genes, so I did the same)

The drinks were expertly mixed, playfully named after modern paintings in the museum. I ordered the Blank Canvas (Framboise Apertif, Rye, Peychaud Bitters and Lambrusco) – light, fruity, yet maintaining a slight kick from the Rye. But of course my mother always unwitting gets the strongest drink on the menu, which caused us to switch. Not that I really minded. I wanted something a little stronger and the Vanishing Point (Rye Vodka, Vermouths, and Teapot-Hazelnut Bitters) was an elegant play on the martini.

But of course for dinner. We decided to go with the tasting menu, described simply by:

  • Caviar
  • Foie Gras
  • Black Truffle
  • Pink Snapper
  • Lamb
  • Chocolate or Apricot

I mean with those options how could you really go wrong. 1,2,3 then die of decadence with a lineup of Caviar, Foie Gras and Black Truffle? For me the Black Truffle stole the show – a ricotta tortellini with shaved black truffle served over top. By far the best pasta dish I have ever had.

If that wasn’t enough, the waiters roll around a chocolate and sweet cart after dinner. That pushed the engorgement factor over the edge but frankly how can you not keep eating The Modern-made chocolates, macarons, and other sweet delights? I have no self control so good thing I’ve started training for a half-marathon. The meal ended with the cutest, take-home boxes filled with even more sweets! I mean stop doting on me… just kidding The Modern can give me nom noms forever.

Now I mustn’t be all doe-eyed and gush completely over the meal. I mean, it was beautifully executed and the service, impeccable. However sometimes when you get such an extravagant tasting menu, the extravagant ingredients speak louder than the deftness of the end products. Am I crazy? Am I really docking points for truffles, caviar, and foie gras? Heresy?

I don’t think so. There is a reason those ingredients are delicacies, but I still maintain the ideology that it is when a dish transforms “normal” ingredients into something unforgettable, that that marks the height of culinary achievement. Don’t worry, The Modern still get’s the Cub’s “Inspired meal” stamp of approval.

In any event, maybe next time I’m at The Modern I’ll try the four course tasting where I have more flexibilit. Note the conviction in my voice that I’ll be back soon…The extravagance seemingly never ends. Maybe we all live above our means in this beautifully hedonistic city. I for one am not complaining. I just fear what my tastes will crave when I’m hitting 40, but then again that’s a problem for another beautiful Sunday. 🙂

The Modern – – 212-333-1220

See more reviews at NYC Restaurants.

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