Mon-Fri, noon-2pm and 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sat, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun, closed
E, M at Fifth Ave.-53rd St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
The Modern is really two restaurants in one— a sophisticated café and a formal dining room. The two spaces are separated by a partition of frosted glass: One thrums with a general, if mildly self-conscious hipness, while the other is stately, almost august, in that clean, slightly dated, modernist way. In the dining room, groups of murmuring patrons can admire the Calders in the museum’s expanded sculpture garden while sipping their special “MoMA Blend” after-dinner tea. The two restaurants share the same chef, Gabriel Kreuther, a classically trained Frenchman from Alsace, who last worked at the Ritz Hotel on Central Park South. He has a taste for the earthy comfort foods of his youth, most of which he indulges on the café menu. This impressive array of food (there are thirty dishes on the café menu, not counting desserts) is meted out in fashionable “small plate” portions, which you can enjoy late in the evening, or mid-afternoon. The atmosphere in the formal dining room is much more formal, of course, and so is the cooking, although you sometimes get the impression that, in his zeal to prove himself, Kreuther strains a little too hard. Compared to the pleasing appetizers, several of the entrées seem busy and a little overworked. Dinner at the Modern is attended by every conceivable four-star flourish and accoutrement. Dishes are perambulated around the room under polished silver warmers. There are amuse-gueules and palate-cleansing intermezzi, and a gentle avalanche of petits fours to enjoy with your selection of designer teas. Desserts are good but not transcendent. They do nothing, however, to dampen that ineffable quality Danny Meyer is so expert at creating. This special sense, of polish and occasion, is heightened by the restaurant’s location.Prix-Fixe
Three-course lunch, $55; four-course lunch, $70; four-course dinner, $98; chef's tasting menu, $155Recommended Dishes
Liverwurst, cod, roast duck, milk chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise.