Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Restaurant Week: Bar Room at The Modern

When you spin the roulette wheel of reservations for Restaurant Week, hope that it lands on the Bar Room at The Modern. This is another one of restaurateur Danny Meyer's very successful restaurants, with a kitchen helmed by Gabriel Kreuther, last year's winner of the James Beard Award for Best New York City chef. Big names or accolades don't always add up to consistently great food, and you never know what you'll get during Restaurant Week, but the Bar Room shows that it can be done by producing an amazing and worthwhile dinner. 

With 11 options for course one, 10 for course two and seven more for dessert, I could easily return to the Bar Room multiple times without exhausting my choices. And the restaurant offered the Restaurant Week menu exclusively during this time. Who can argue with that?

Tarte Flambee: Alsatian thin crust tart with creme fraiche, onion and applewood smoked bacon

I was excited to see this giant pie set before me; I'd at least ordered well for value based on portion size. Though it was thin crust, this pizza-like dish was filling and I actually had to stop myself from polishing the whole thing off (I saved a couple pieces for later) so that I ensured I would have room for everything. The shredded bacon had me skeptical at first — the small pieces might have translated into a puny flavor. Instead, the smoky taste was bold and present in almost every bite, mixing in perfectly with the creme fraiche.

Roasted Long Island Duck Breast with peppercorn-crusted apples and
toasted pistachio-truffle dipping sauce

Although I feel like I've had a lot of duck this winter, this one still wowed me. It was sublime, slightly rare, allowing a strong duck taste to shine. And with only three slices, it's enough to satisfy while making you look forward to the next time you can have it. The mustard-like dipping sauce was a good complement, though it didn't taste much of pistachio or truffles. My dining companion was not crazy about the fried apples. But I liked the crunchy exterior texture with the slightly softened apples and I didn't mind the sharp-edged flavor.

Scottish Salmon with horseradish crust, cabbage and Riesling

This salmon was gently cooked and delicious. The pairing of the rich ingredients was original — even if they had just met, they were getting along quite well.

Beer-Braised Pork Belly with turnip choucroute and ginger jus

Hidden among the weeds here lay a wonderful layer of tender, shredded meat covered with an excellent armor of thick and crispy skin. The choucroute, a word I was not familiar with, is an Alsatian dish of sauerkraut with wine, sausages, pork, and juniper berries. This turnip version was mild and plain — a necessary backdrop that helped the pork to stand out.

Dark Chocolate Tart with chocolate ice cream

This is a chocoholic's dream, strong and creamy with a great crust and a bit of a crunch on top. Though I love chocolate, I shamefully admit I may have left a bite or two on the plate when I hit the wall of richness.

 Hazelnut Dacquoise with milk chocolate chantilly 

The dacquoise was elegantly presented. It was like a gorgeous candy bar dressed up for a special occasion. The chocolate cream was light and shared the spotlight well with the nuts.

My dining companion and I both really enjoyed the wines we ordered as well. The one downside of the meal was the service, which was lackluster from the moment we walked in the door and received no foreshadowing of a 15-minute wait beyond our reservation, to the waiter who appeared at our table to take our order, opened his notepad, but didn't utter a word to us.

The Bar Room at the Modern didn't skimp on portions or flavor. Like the Museum of Modern Art that it's set in, it's sleek and stylish. But the volume in the evening definitely makes it clear this is an after-museum-hours hangout. If you plan well or tend to have good luck, definitely try for a reservation at the Bar Room; if you get one, you'll feel like a winner.

1 comment:

  1. Navah7:40 PM

    so jealous....looks and sounds delicious!