Scores: 1 M*/ 3 NYT
… and it was all going so well. After some great meals in NYC and no disappointments one came on our last night. I had booked the Modern for several reasons; one: that it was not too far from our hotel, second: because it looked like a very pleasant location to have a meal and finally, and most importantly, because the food has a very good reputation. The Modern is a restaurant within the MOMA building, it has one Michelin star and a 3 out of 4 NYT review and as such is a very well known place.
The restaurant is divided into two parts, a more casual bar room and the more formal dining room which overlooks the MOMA sculpture garden. We were eating in the dining room and things started well as we were given a window side table. Unfortunately given it was after 8 in late October it was too dark to truly appreciate the view. The dining room was full on this Saturday night and the bar room looked very busy as well.
We looked at the 8 course tasting menu ($155) but decided to go for the 4 course prix fixe ($108). Two canapés were served on spoons to start: carrot, sorrel and capers, and fennel, pomegranate and duck ham. An amuse-bouche of egg custard with salmon broth and trout roe was also served, all of these were fine but nothing memorable.
First courses all appeared to be served as cold dishes. Oven-roasted trumpet royale mushrooms- Bouchot Mussels, Toasted Almonds, Jamón Iberico, and Harissa Vinaigrette looked pretty having some edible flowers on top. This was a fairly tasty dish with a good combination of flavours. We also ordered a duo of marinated sardines with Artichoke, Ricotta Salata, and Red Pepper-Green Olive Vinaigrette. This dish was bought together by a tomato confit sauce that had hints of red pepper and orange. These would be an excellent summer lunch dish.
After this we had to wait quite a long time for our second course, I complain quite a lot about restaurants serving choices too quickly after one another but this was far too far the other way. When it finally arrived, a Jerusalem artichoke soup with truffle poached egg and crispy sweetbreads was well cooked but this dish proved to be very salty, even for my girlfriend’s salt loving tastes. Our other middle course was rabbit-truffle “Alsatian dumplings”, Sunchoke and Crystal Lettuce. In terms of taste these were quite good, the dumplings were not over heavy and the rabbit filling was tender and well-seasoned, unfortunately this was served luke warm on a stone cold plate.
At this point we faced another long wait between courses to the point where my girlfriend thought she was not hungry anymore. Chorizo-crusted cod with a White Coco Bean Purée and Harissa Oil had excellent flavours with the chorizo really coming through and adding to the fish. There was also a tiny bit of heat which was nice; it’s just a pity it was a touch over cooked and also again quite salty. Skate with clams and a clam broth was a good dish, the skate was well cooked and the clam stuffing complemented the fish well. Here the seasoning was just right, just enough salt to enhance the fish but not over kill lack from the other dishes.
Blackcurrant vacherin with Pistachio Ice Cream, Blackcurrant, and Yogurt Meringue was a very good dessert; it looked and tasted good. The pistachio also worked with the really intense blackcurrant flavour; initially I was worried that it would not. Mango craquelin with citrus mousseline, Almond Spaghetti, and Mango-Passion Fruit Sorbet was another good dessert, everything was very well made and the sweet, refreshing taste of mango was highlighted throughout the pudding. These desserts were probably the highlight of the meal.
One of the good things about eating here is that if the desserts are not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, afterwards there is the extensive petite fours trolley to choose from. This features lots of different chocolates, caramels, jellies and other treats and on this occasion a large pumpkin made of chocolate as it was coming up to Halloween. All of these were very good, highlighting further the skills of the pastry department. We ordered some coffee to go with the petite fours but one of these was forgotten about which was an oversight. The meal then finished with some berry granita in a cone which was sweet and refreshing. Ladies got a gift box at the end containing three bit sized chocolate cakes, which were also very nice and this was a good touch.This was a disappointing meal, not bad by any means but we felt that the dishes that came out were not as good as they could be, suffering from quite a few errors in cooking and seasoning. Also there were a few mistakes in service. This meal was also only slightly cheaper than at Daniel a couple of night before. There was a huge different in the quality of the two dinners, Daniel was faultless. I also realise that you are paying for the location and thus to get the best view of MOMA sculpture garden, it is probably better to visit in the early evening or in the summer.