January 24, 2011

RW: Thoroughly Modern Deliciousness

**UPDATE! Restaurant Week has been extended until February 27th--it's not too late to get a delicious meal at a delicious price. **

The Modern is one of my favorite spots for a transcendant meal in New York City. Despite the sleek, chic surroundings, you can get a really good value at this spot, especially during Restaurant Week! And even if it weren't reasonable, this place qualifies as worth the splurge, any time of year.

That's where I found myself with my dear friend and fellow food blogger, Sara (her review is here)!

I arrived 15 minutes before our 7pm reservation, and the hostess offered to seat me already. I said fine and went to our table in the middle of the room. One server approached and asked if I'd like a drink. I said I was waiting for a friend as we would get wine. No problem, he smiled, and disappeared. A female server came over and asked when my friend might be arriving. I said soon, and then wondered what she would have said if I told her I didn't know! She twirled away as well. It turns out she was our server, though I wouldn't see her for another 30 minutes. A third man came by once Sara got there and took our drink orders, though my question on the wine list (I didn't see the Venica & Venica pinot grigio there) seemed to take him off guard. Sorry!

We ended up going with a bottle of a 2009 Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling (Semi-Dry), from New York's Finger Lakes --I am a sucker for this one, and as soon as I saw the name I was hoping Sara would be game-which she was! This was fruity and sweet but not sicky-sweet, with lots of melon, apricot, honeysuckle and peach flavor.

I liked it so much the server offered to save the label for me to put in my wine scrapbook (an oddly nice gesture considering she ignored us for most of the meal!) She put it in a nondescript envelope so I wouldn't look like a lush going home.

We heard our server explaining to everyone around us how Restaurant Week worked at The Modern Bar Room, but when she finally came to us (literally a half hour later), she skipped that part. Maybe she figured someone else told us, or we'd heard it enough at surrounding tables? We heard her explain to someone else that everything on the menu was available in appetizer size, but if you wanted more food, you could order extras a la carte for 17. We ended up not doing that--our food was plenty.

I broke down and ordered the Long Island duck, even though I'd had it before. You may remember my friend Patty and I swooned ages ago over the peppercorn-crusted apples and truffle dipping sauce, and I was so happy to see that dish was offered again! They weren't kidding when they said the portions were smaller...they were teeny tiny! The flavors, however, were still wonderful. O, that truffle dipping sauce!

Sara opted for the artichoke soup--she is a fiend for artichokes. This was a pretty generous serving, and it was perfectly seasoned and full of artichoke flavor (sometimes I feel like the choke can get pushed to the background). This was good but I was glad I stuck with my  apples duck!

This is where service got spotty again. The table to our right sat down a good 20 minutes after we did, and their mains came out a good 30 minutes before ours did. Long story short, we waited a long, long time for our main dishes. A man came over, manager, perhaps (?), and apologized for the fact that our food was taking so long. Our server was still MIA and she never mentioned this herself. I have no IDEA what was going on that night on the floor--service is usually much better there.

By the time our food came, we were quite hungry. I ordered the squab, and it looked teeny-tiny, but oh my, was it delicious. The crispy skin, the tender meat, the BACON SALAD (seriously!?) and the spices with just a hint of heat were wonderful.

That squab was cooked to tear-inducing perfection. It was a downsized portion, but it packed so much flavor that I savored each and every morsel.

Sara ordered the pork belly over a rutabaga choucroute. This was layer upon layer of deliciousness, and the rutabaga was surprisingly flavorful. I was very happy to dive right back into my truffle dipping sauce omnomnomom.

For dessert, I overheard our odd server (seriously..did she just dislike us? Did we remind her of someone she hates? What an unusual experience) mention to someone ELSE that the Coffee-Caramel Dome was her favorite, so I opted for that.

The words 'amaretto gelée caught my eye, too. This was lovely and light, just enough coffee to balance the caramel, and the interior layers were gorgeously done, even if my photo of them wasn't. :)

It made me think of the Death Star--anyone else see that?

I would have loved more amaretto gelée..that was a fun touch.

Sara ordered the chocolate tart with chocolate ice cream. I don't think either one of us is normally a chocolate ice cream fan, but this was sinfully scrumptious. Dark, heavy flavors in a creamy bite of awesome.

We were both surprised how stuffed we were at the end of the meal, considering how small our portions were. Small portions that are perfectly prepared go a long way! Our service was pretty bad the whole way through, which was surprising, but we still made the best of it and enjoyed every bite, even if we didn't feel super welcome or wanted by our server. I'm going to chalk it up to her having a bad day--don't let our bad experience keep you from going here. It's well worth it, from savory start to fabulous finish.

And one of the best parts of The Modern? Their unisex and ultra-sleek bathroom.

If you eat here, you HAVE to at least pop in and wash your hands at a striking vessel sink!

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