It is a testament to how much you have raised your profile in the dining world if you are allowed to open up a restaurant inside a museum in NYC. Not all museum restaurants I have visited are successful, but it seemed like a safe bet that the third project at the Met Breuer from the team behind the ever-popular Estela would not settle for a safe, boring restaurant. The Met Breuer, in the former Whitney Museum space, is the Metropolitan Museum’s new addition to showcase more modern / contemporary artworks that are distinct from what the main museum typically displays, and I was hoping that Flora Bar would carry that experimental spirit as well. On my visit with my girlfriend on a recent Sunday evening, we overall liked our experience but I had a slight issue with the price.
If Estela was more witty and playful, the food at Flora Bar seems a little bit more grown up. That doesn’t mean the dishes were boring. While my girlfriend felt the tuna tartare with potato and truffle had a bit too much seasoning, I still liked the very nice balance in texture from the dish. On the other hand, we both loved the rutabaga and raclette tart, with the rutabaga (a root vegetable) on top of the tart working beautifully well with the raclette cheese inside for marvelous flavor that wasn’t heavy at all.
My biggest issue with Flora Bar was the price of the dishes compared to the portion size, especially in the main dish sections. Lobster and crab dumplings that came in yuzu broth were surprisingly forgettable, and they came at hefty $29 price tag even though there were less than 10 pieces. We both enjoyed the steak accompanied by beets and Béarrnaise sauce that was more or less perfectly cooked with minimal level of seasoning so that the texture of the meat was the highlight of the dish. On the other hand, considering the modest portion, I thought $26 (not $36 as it appears on the menu) seemed more appropriate. Initially, I thought all of the prices included tips but to my shock the server informed me that was not the case! Is it an extra price of admission for having a meal inside a popular museum? Anyways, as I was sharing the delightful chocolate parfait with cherries inside with my girlfriend, I was debating inside my mind how this price and portion mismatch should affect my KenScale score. I ended up with my usual solid 8.0 rating given that most of the dishes were expertly prepared with technical sophistication fitting for a restaurant inside a museum, but I wonder whether I would have given a higher score if the prices were in a more reasonable realm.
Getting a reservation wasn’t too difficult, although the dining space was quite packed during our dinner (to be fair, we were also dining on the last day of the critically acclaimed Kerry James Marshall exhibition that I thought was such a timely show in this age of turbulence and racial animosity). There is full bar with French-heavy wine selections that can complement your meal well. Overall, I liked the ambiance of the dining space that oozes museum vibe without a ton of pretentiousness. When you’re in for a quick meal after a cultural experience at the Met Breuer or any other museums in the Upper East Side neighborhood, Flora Bar is certainly a nice option to have in your repertoire. It is unfortunate the price point didn’t seem as approachable as it should be for a museum restaurant.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Telephone: (646) 558-5383