I have been to the Modern next to the Museum of Modern Art and never come out disappointed with a meal, whether it’s at the lively bar room or the more formal dining room. When I found out that the restaurant has recently started offering the Kitchen Table where you get a front-row seat to watch the entire kitchen at work while dining, I was instantly hooked. For my birthday dinner, I decided to reserve a dinner spot to visit with my wife Jun. I thought the experience could’ve been more interactive (like chefs making dishes right in front of us instead of bringing the finished products), but in terms of the quality of food, we had a memorable meal.
What has always made the Modern a successful restaurant is the technical sophistication and focus in approaching French food. That was evident in the opening dish (following amuse bouche) of caviar, poached egg and dill that provided a wonderful complexity of flavor to our palate before kicking off the meal. While Jun is not a huge foie gras person (and neither am I) and therefore dropped her fork after finishing half of the foie gras tart, I kept nibbling at my tart (and later got some of Jun’s leftovers) as I found the wonderful effect of whipped honey neutralizing what could be a stuffy dish. On the other hand, Jun had no complaints about the cauliflower roasted in crab butter (and also accompanied by a piece of crab meat) that was very refined in flavor.
Our unanimous favorite savory dish of the night belonged to the crispy skin black bass with artichokes and yellow minestrone sauce. We have had our fair shares of bass dishes before, but I don’t think any could beat the one we had at Modern in terms of the way the fish was cooked to perfection and the wonderful effect that the minestrone sauce had on the fish to further complement its flavor and enhance its texture. It was one of the best seafood dishes I’ve had this year. The second best savory course was roasted lamb saddle that was not only cooked quite nicely in terms of texture but worked beautifully with Belgian endive on the side too. After a cheese course came candy cap mushroom flavored ice cream which I thought was funky at first but eventually grew on me for its somewhat bitter yet addictive flavor. My favorite dessert, however, was the milk chocolate caramel cremeux with cinnamon toast ice cream that was pure decadence! I will cherish the flavor of that delightful dish for a long time.
You need to book in advance via email for a seat at the Kitchen Table, which seats only up to four people at a given time. As noted above, the experience could’ve been more interactive, but it was still fun to see all the kitchen staffs in action churning out wonderful dishes for the restaurant. There is full bar with a long wine list, and if you are inclined to splurge, get one of the nice red bottles in France to savor your meal with. At $298 per person, the dinner at the Kitchen Table doesn’t come cheap (and therefore in value metrics I would have to deduct a few points for my KenScale) but for a special occasion dinner, this is something you need to consider to impress your date / significant other or other important person in your life.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 9.0/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
Telephone: (212) 408-6611