Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Modern, New York

Stood up for dinner and drinks (I now know/have known three people in advertising, and I have to say they're all unreliable about this stuff), I fell back on a place I had been thinking of trying the night before. The Modern is the restaurant and cafe of the Museum of Modern Art, and there was a table available when I called at the last minute. I thought it was on the dining side, where the menu looked really excellent, but it turned out to be The Bar Room, where the menu was more casual, meaty and Alsatian (the chef, in addition to being Alsatian, received a James Beard award as Best Chef: New York this year). Still interesting.

After mildly annoying my helpful and patient waiter, Jordan, over my reservation and menu confusion, I picked three dishes (with his help, thanks!) and settled down to eat. The Bar Room is a bit crowded and noisy; not my favorite kind of place to eat alone, but it afforded me a wonderful opportunity to listen in to the steady stream of inanity from the recently-divorced kid at the next table who was trying to sell his car sales franchise to a much older man. I didn't know agonizing over your divorce was a good sales tactic.

This steak tartare was chopped, not ground. You may be thinking "Of course it wasn't ground. That would be disgusting! It's immoral!" but it happens all too often. It was chopped very finely too. It was good, especially with the craggy, warm, toasted whole-wheat bread. A little more spice wouldn't have gone amiss.

Mentioned in a review that got me excited about The Modern, this 'egg in a jar' was excellent. As they used to say on the voiceovers of Iron Chef (料理の鉄人, not that Iron Chef America BS), "This is a perfected dish." I don't think there's any '63 degree' stuff going on here, I just think they put an egg, cream and a bunch of lobster meat in a sealed jar and simmered it for a while.

Until it was smooth, thick and tasty...sort of like lobster poached in butter, only poached in even more good stuff! Mmmmm, robstah.

I'm always into scallops; these looked terrific on the plate, and the corn-and-bits accompaniments were bright and American. The scallops themselves were enormous (not for the first time in the last month, I would have thought they were pen shell / tailagai if I wasn't told they were scallops) and very good. I found the coating a bit strong on spice, especially salt. I think. Something burned my tongue in an odd way, and if it wasn't salt it was hot pepper. It's weird that I couldn't distinguish, but that's the way it was that night. Meaty scallops vs. puree vs. crunchy vegetables is a good way to go.

There it is! Based on the quality of this stuff, I really wish I had been able to get the 3-course menu in the dining room for only another $20, and if I lived in the area (Mayu) I would certainly go check it out.

Thankfully it's not 'The Dada"

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