The Modern Dining Room, New York (June 2012)

I didn’t expect The Modern to reach the three-star altitudes I had witnessed earlier in the week. And it didn’t. The lemon verbena and cinnamon-laced popcorn was stale. The yuzu marinade on four formidable langoustines masked any trace of top-of-the-sea freshness the crustaceans once bore; that plate also had a bewildering abundance of cucumber, far more than I knew what to do with.

But there were also moments rich with excitement: a tantalizing cloud of applewood smoke filled the air as a server removed the plate’s carapace, revealing a smoky, caviar-laden sturgeon-sauerkraut amalgam in a flaky tart shell. And that was soon followed by a delicately poached farm egg that explodes across the bowl upon knife pressure as if it were in a Tarantino film. Now I’m not one to profess a meretricious devotion to egg dishes, but the one-sided salt onslaught–parmesan, olive tapenade and Iberico ham–paired with the egg worked wonderfully. Dessert became a delightful ordeal, a hedonistic treadmill, highlighted by a towering pineapple-citrus macaron that went on being a joy for ten minutes.

Service was stellar throughout with my section of the dining room managed deftly by Erin, blonde and bespectacled, with an endearing awkwardness, the kind characteristic of many academics. I’m convinced I had one of the best seats in the restaurant: looked after by Erin, overlooking the MOMA sculpture garden, far away from the blaring bar and next to an investment banker on a date–with nary a chance of amatory success– with a woman palpably oozing boredom as the hours passed; when not enmeshed in the complexities of a course, I was sustained–nourished at times–by the catastrophe-prone confabs of these two. I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried.

Lemon verbena and cinnamon popcorn

Striped bass with lentils and green apple and goat cheese crusted with ?

Chilled broccoli rabe soup with brunoised daikon

Mackerel escabeche with pickled ramp and basil coulis

Celeriac-poppyseed-crusted foie torchons, balsamic reduction and mango-passion fruit purée

Yuzu marinated langoustines, cucumber, salmon roe, lemon gelée, crisp rice and cucumber juice

Pea soup, barley, smoked ricotta and a pea barbajuan

Sculpture garden after closing

Sturgeon-sauerkraut tart with caviar mousseline and applewood smoke

Seared scallops, cardamon, shallot, rhubarb and sugar snap peas

Farm egg, parmesan crisp, olive tapenade, pimento nage and Iberico ham

Duck breast, duck confit wrapped in fresh pasta, black trumpet, frisee, pearl onions and duck jus

Trio of desserts

Strawberry-vanilla vacherin, poached rhubarb and pistachio ice cream

Pistachio bavarois

Pineapple-citrus macaron with tropical fruit and fromage blanc

Milk chocolate-hazelnut daquoise, confit lemon and raspberry

Chocolate marshmallows

Lemon-rosemary sorbet

Take-home chocolate cakes

3 thoughts on “The Modern Dining Room, New York (June 2012)

  1. Wow, great blog and stunning photos but how come there hasn't been an update in nearly a month!! Grrr.. I hope there are more great reviews coming!

  2. K,Thanks for stopping by. The short answer to your question is work (and the need to do a lot of it). There may be a few very short reports in mid-August. Wish I had a more sanguine answer to share. Cheers,Andrew

  3. That's alright; I can understand. There's already quite a treasure trove of excellent reviews on this blog to enjoy and compare and contrast different restaunants! 🙂

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