An "Artful" Lunch at the Modern Bar Room

This is arguably the most expensive lunch I ever had. Period. I had lunches from pricey restaurants (e.g. Le Bernardin a few years ago and recently Eleven Madison Park) by trying their prix fixe or tasting menu but it never come to the total that I have paid just a few days ago. You’ll understand as I will explain my one time whim and chance to go to The Modern‘s Bar Room on Tuesday, April 24th.

The Modern

I arrived there at 11:40 A.M., not surprisingly there weren’t many diners there since it’s early.

The Bar earlier in the lunch hour A few people at the bar

The tables that border the Bar Room from the Dining Room Other tables waiting for diners

Interior of the Modern Tables toward the back

As I was seated to a table and I was given the menu. I already knew ahead of time what I was ordering and waited a while taking photos that you’ve seen above and my reflection from the bar room’s stainless steel column that was next to me. After a few minutes, my waitress came up and asked me if I “wanted anything to drink; any wine or cocktails from those menus?” I replied, “Yes. I would like to have that rose drink.” Then she corrected me nicely that cocktail’s name is, “Coming Up Roses.” She left with that order and came back with it a few minutes later and told her my order of “Roasted Garlic Gnocchi” (from Two, an appetizer course like One) and “Beer Braised Pork Belly” (from Three, considered as an entrée but a bit smaller). After she wrote those down and left me, I took photos of this mesmerizing drink.

Coming Up Roses and a glass of water
“Coming Up Roses” with my tap water

Coming Up Roses - side view Top side view of the drink

Coming Up Roses (angled view)
Looking down at an angle…

Now that’s a sight to see for a drink. It’s gorgeous with all those rose petals and wedges of lime mingling with the ice cubes. It’s effervescent, with hints of roses, raspberry (from the Bacardi Razz, a raspberry flavored rum) and lime. Not at all sweet. Initially it tastes innocent but later on the alcohol kicks in pretty darn well.

Then came the bread basket and butter.

Bread and Butter

Close up of Bread tray Close up of the bread basket

The mini baguette was very good. The golden brown, thin, crisp crust, with a chewy crumb was too irresistible for me to stop munching the entire thing. Usually, I just eat half and move on.

Mini Baguette on a plate Baguette on a plate

Mini Baguette innards Innards

The bread underneath the baguettes, is what I think is sliced country bread. It tasted fine but it’s basically a soft, spongy, yeasty bread without much textural contrasts for me to be enamored with it.

The Country Bread

After munching the bread, my appetizer arrived; the Roasted Garlic Gnocchi with wild mushrooms, sage, and crispy sweetbreads ($17).

Roasted Garlic Gnocchi with Wild Mushroom, Sage, and Crispy Sweetbreads The Roasted Garlic Gnocchi dish

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE sweetbreads ever since my first encounter at Gramercy Tavern a few years ago (that’s obviously before the inception of this blog). This dish does do some justice to the sweetbread since it was crisp but I didn’t taste much in terms of flavor except for it’s soft texture and earthy flavor. The gnocchi were soft, light, little dumplings that goes well with the sage, earthy, silky wild mushrooms, and crisp sweetbreads. It’s a wonderful dish.

Close up of the Roasted Garlic Gnocchi with Wild Mushroom, Sage, and Crispy Sweetbreads Close up of the Roasted Garlic Gnocchi

After my dish cleared away and wait for another 5 minutes or so, my Beer Braised Pork Belly ($15) arrived.

Beer Braised Pork Belly with Sauerkraut and Ginger Jus Whole view

Another view of Beer Braised Pork Belly with Sauerkraut and Ginger Jus
Close up of presented view

Close up view of Beer Braised Pork Belly with Sauerkraut and Ginger Jus
Close up with the fatty side showing

The pork belly was incredibly fork tender and it melts in my mouth. I didn’t really taste any beer but if it’s any indication of beer, it would possibly the heartiness in the flavor of the pork and provided some of the hoppy flavor in the ginger jus. It went well with the sauerkraut that was underneath the pork belly, to give it some sharp, sour-tart contrast to the dish.

After finishing my pork belly, I wanted dessert. After glancing the menu, I went for the Hazelnut Dacquoise ($10) and coffee.

Coffee Coffee

Hazelnut Dacquoise with Milk Chocolate Chantilly Whole view

Close Up of Hazelnut Dacquoise with Milk Chocolate Chantilly Close Up

Innards of Hazelnut Dacquoise with Milk Chocolate Chantilly Innards

The coffee was fine. It’s a medium bodied, roasted coffee. Nothing exceptional to note but it tasted fine.

The hazelnut dacquoise with filled with milk chocolate chantilly (basically milk chocolate flavored whipped cream). The hazelnut dacquoise was sweet, nutty, crisp, crunchy, with a caramel finish. It was topped with a thin sheet of milk chocolate, milk chocolate whipped cream (chantilly), and another sheet of milk chocolate. It tasted good but it didn’t dazzled me in any particular way. I kind of know in advance from reading various reviews that the desserts are good but not in any sense, mind blowing. So, my sweet tooth is not necessarily satiated but it was a bit satisfied.

My impression of this place is that it’s a good place to have a casual but upscale food that one can bite away (portions are small) but needs to have the finances of doing so. This venture cost me a good amount of money that it would be some time until I’ll ever visit here again. I like this place (as many others do as you’ll see underneath) and would love to try many other dishes but as I’ve said, it’s expensive.

30 PM The lunch crowd at 12:30 PM

30 PM

The Modern: Bar Room

11 W 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.

  1. Kathy says:

    gah, sweetbread!!! you had me at that dish :)
    the modern must have been such a wonderful indulgence – there’s nothing quite like taking yourself out to lunch! :)

  2. thewanderingeater says:

    Kathy: Technically, I always take myself out to lunch…but this is truly an indulgence.

    I love sweetbreads! I think I said that but I really do. I’m kind of scaring myself for liking animal innards so much.

  3. peter from oz says:

    every piece of the animal should be prepared and eaten in some way
    its healthy and economic since time began
    that’s in your dna
    good to see you spoiling yourself
    rgds pcm

  4. thewanderingeater says:

    Peter: I spoiled myself ROTTEN. I won’t be doing that for a long time…unless someone else would treat me, which would be highly doubtable.

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