It’s always a good feeling when you know you ordered the best thing on the menu at a restaurant. “My order was perfect” is how my friend Daniela described our meal at the newly relocated Union Square Cafe on 19th and Park. Our successful outcome is a credit to not only the solid cooking coming out of the kitchen, but to our enthusiastic and very helpful server, who was more than happy to oblige our question as to what her favorite things on the menu were.Read More
You come to the museum for the culture, not for the food. For every stunning exhibit with a Picasso or a Pollock there is a homely cafe out back peddling soups and sandwiches. But not at Untitled, the new restaurant at The Whitney, a place that is so attractive and inviting that you might actually come to the museum for the food and not the other way around. The open, glass-enclosed space gets so much natural light that any sort of vitamin D deficiency or episode of SADS will be remedied right away. You’ll like being here, and the staff, trained in the Danny Meyer school of hospitality, will do their best to make you feel that way. With everyone in such high spirits, there’s no way you can’t do a little day drinking here. And you should, because they make a mean Bloody Mary at the bar.Read More
I haven’t been back to The Modern in about 6 years. It was really distance that made us drift apart. There was never any reason to go to Midtown West once I changed jobs and moved downtown. But when Juno nearly shut down the city with several inches of snow, The Modern beckoned me back with an enticing no corkage promotion. It made a lot of sense to take advantage of the deal, especially considering that we had tickets to the nearby Book of Mormon that same night. Booze and Broadway, here we come.
Going to The Modern was like comfortably slipping back into a conversation with a good friend you haven’t seen in years. Everything was just as good as I had remembered it–the service was on point and the food was well prepared. The crowd also hasn’t really changed. It’s still dominated by Wall Street types, probably because it’s one of the few nice restaurants within walking distance to all the big firms, along with the well-heeled pre theater and tourist crowd.
The menu has managed to keep up with the times. The focus on small plates of classic proteins and seafood made with artistic precision (it is in the MOMA, after all) is certainly relevant in this current dining environment. I remember seafood in particular being the restaurant’s forte, and that holds true today, as I was blown away by the seared scallops that I ordered. They were in a creamy cauliflower puree that was really stunning, striking just the right notes of rich without veering into decadence, while the almonds and the accompanying bits of cooked and raw cauliflower provided some nice textural and flavor contrasts. And visually the dish itself was a work of art–the scallops impressively looked like they were in a bed of edible coral.
The lobster sausage was a little more muted in its impact, although I liked how the clean flavors of the lobster came through. But it would have been nice for it to be a little tangier and funkier like traditional sausages tend to be. The plump, buttery fillet of monkfish was lovely, but the real standout was the underlying bed of lemony, creamy barley. The presentation here again was lovely, I thought the contrast of the vibrant green herbs and the red sausage against the pearl foam was really pretty. If the intention was to evoke an under the sea image here, then the dish definitely served that purpose.
The Modern’s strengths aren’t just limited to seafood, as demonstrated by how much we enjoyed our shaved brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts have been around for so long, cooked in so many different ways, but The Modern somehow manages to make theirs different and interesting. There was a sharp, vinegary aspect to it, as if you were eating a coleslaw, and the pecorino gratings added an additional dimension of sharpness. The selectively placed roasted leaves created a robust layer so that you weren’t left feeling wanting as we tend to do when eating a small plate of vegetables.
We concluded the meal with an order of the apple cider doughnuts. These were very good in a conventional way, because sometimes you don’t really need to innovate to get the most out of fried batter and ice cream. It’s a shame I haven’t caught up with The Modern sooner, because I really enjoyed my meal on this long overdue reunion. I have no doubt that it will continue to age well and stand the test of time.
9 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10016