The past Friday evening, I had dinner at the Bar Room at the Modern with Ariel.
Since I have arrived there earlier than he did, I took the time to take in the atmosphere and the vibe of this place since it is so different than what I have experienced for lunch the last time I was here. It’s more energetic since it is a Friday night: the after-work crowd, friends and dates having their dinners. It’s definitely more relaxed, loud, and arguably chaotic due to the talking, noise, and the start of the weekend.
Eventually Ariel arrived and we glanced at the cocktail menu since it’s after 6, it’s a weekend, he might as well kick back with a drink or two. He decided on having the Coming Up Roses drink and he bought me the Cucumber Caipiroska.
Similar to what I had last time for the Coming Up Roses, it looks pretty. But the last time I had it, the ice cubes weren’t so melted but Ariel enjoyed that drink and he did admit that it had a strong kick at the end. Most likely due to the Bacardi Razz and Champagne that’s in the drink. My Cucumber Caipiroska was refreshing. It does have the flavor of a cucumber and had hints of citrus-like flavor from the Hanger One Buddha’s Hand (it’s a citron infused vodka).
The bread has arrived with the drinks shortly after, it’s basically consisted of mini baguettes and slices of multi-grain bread. It’s fine but nothing that’s meant to change my life.
The Restaurant Week Menu:
Arctic Char Tartare
with basil and trout caviar
Tomato and Almond Gazpacho
Beer Braised Pork Belly
Roasted Garlic Gnocchi
Here’s our appetizers for the evening:
Ariel’s Tomato and Almond Gazpacho with Mediterranean Rouget was sublime. It tasted like roasted peppers and tomatoes blended with a hint of paprika and creme fraiche – spicy and creamy with a touch of tang. The almond is in the soup only in terms of giving it body (in other words, a thicker texture). The rouget was a nice twist since it matches the spicy flavor of the gazpacho and gave it some heft and meatiness to a vegetarian soup.
My Arctic Char Tartare was wonderful as well. The char was silky, slightly tart, and slightly spicy from the black pepper that is in it.
Heck, when Ariel had both my appetizer and his…he had a foodgasm.
Then came the main course:
Ariel’s Roasted Garlic Gnocchi with wild mushroom, sage and crispy sweetbreads was good – from what he told me. I didn’t bother trying it because I ate this dish when I was here last time. The crispy nuggets of sweetbreads work so well to the soft, airy, chewy gnocchi. The morels that are found in this dish compliments the earthiness of the sweetbreads.
My swordfish was fine. It was cooked to a medium rare, as requested. It was served on a bed of eggplant caviar, which is basically spicy mashed/blended eggplant, and teardrop tomato salad. The fish was meaty and it the slight char on the fish gave it a slight smoky flavor. The tomato salad brought some acidity and brightness to the heavier flavors and textures of this dish. It didn’t make me swoon but I liked it.
To top off the entire meal, dessert…
Ariel’s cherry clafouti was good. It’s not the traditional French clafouti where it looks somewhat like a bread fruit pudding – the butter tart shell is not supposed to be there. It tastes good nonetheless. The warm, creamy, pudding-like texture of the filling with sweet cheeries was very tasty. I don’t know about the quenelle of pistachio ice cream on the side but it looks ok.
My chocolate tart was mediocre. The milk chocolate filling in this tart was grainy, not ganache-like smooth. The tart shell was fine but that gritty texture really bothered me as I ate this tart. The quenelle of vanilla ice cream was not creamy enough. I am really disappointed.
As expected though, from many foodies who have eaten at this place many more times than I have, their appetizers are the stars of this restaurant; entrees are second best, while their desserts are (arguably) their Achilles’ heel.
On a side note, their bathrooms look quite nice and some say sexy, with the flattering lighting and the use of incense to perfume the bathroom.
One more restaurant to go (or should I say write about since it did occur?)…and that’s Eleven Madison Park.
The Bar Room at the Modern
9 W 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019