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The Modern at MoMA

Arctic char tartare, trout caviar, watercress
2006 Paul Blanck Riesling Classique, Alsace, France

Parsnip and sunchoke puree, diver scallops, black truffles, chives

Slow-poached egg in a mason jar, Maine lobster, crosnes, sea urchin foam

Beer-braised pork belly, sauerkraut, juniper and mustard jus
2004 Bordeaux Chateau La Grange Clinet

Apple strudel, Armangac ice cream, pecan crumble
Boston Boal NV Madeira

Chef Gabriel Kreuther, formerly of Atelier, Restaurant Jean Georges and La Caravelle, is the executive chef of The Modern at MoMA. Conceived as the capstone in Danny Meyer‘s restaurant empire, The Modern opened to wide acclaim in 2004 and consists of two unique dining experiences. Tonight’s dinner was in the Bar Room, a casual and lively scene wherein patrons are invited to construct a meal from an a la carte menu. Portions are tasting menu sized, no more than three to four ounces, and priced accordingly. The main dining room features a more ambitious menu that — according to reports on Mouthfuls and on eGullet — may approach three- or four-star quality.

Out of 10? A low to moderate 6 for The Bar Room. Arctic char tartare was utterly forgettable in terms of execution. Though the menu bills it as being accompanied by basil, the last time I checked, basil isn’t available in February. So much for a seasonal focus. The famous slow-poached egg, sea urchin foam and Maine lobster, a sort of deconstructed chawanmushi bordered on gimmicky. If there was any hint of uni, it didn’t come through until the last spoonfuls. Also: slow-poached egg is so 2006. It seems like every restaurant in New York worth going to has a slow-cooked egg dish on their menu. Enough already!

Beer-braised pork belly was a wonderful homage to Chef Kreuther’s Alsatian roots. Apple strudel with Armangac ice cream verged on boring.

Service was lackluster, and a bit out of place for a Danny Meyer restaurant. Bread was not offered until well after the first appetizer. Busboys were too eager to clear the table. Memo to front-of-the-house staff: don’t assume that the person you’re serving is a rube. It’s condescending and annoying. Also, don’t try to upsell wine and attempt to cover your ass by being helpful. You’re fooling no one.

I want to love The Modern. I really do. Here’s hoping that the main dining room offers a better experience.

The Modern at MoMA is located at 9 West 53rd Street (Fifth Avenue) in midtown Manhattan.

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