Archive | July, 2011

Restaurant Week Summer 2011: The Modern Bar Room

24 Jul

I have been to The Modern Bar Room for Restaurant Week before, however, I had yet to bring Mike.  The Modern is always one of the hardest RW reservations to get.  When I saw that they were doing their Restaurant Week menu on Sunday, I was excited and scheduled immediately.  I was pretty bummed a few days later when I got a call to say that there was a misprint and that The Modern was only doing Restaurant Week during the week.  Damn.  I put my name on a wait list and expected little.  To my surprise, I received a call earlier this week saying that there was an opening at 6pm on Thursday.  So we took it!

I really love the inside of the Bar Room. They have a beautiful tree mural on glass on one end and everything is super (shocker) modern.  They always have gorgeous flowers and it’s always buzzing.


And I simply love that they serve their bread warm (what a difference that makes!)


The Modern serves a lot of their regular menu for Restaurant Week, just in smaller portions.

For his app, Mike chose the warm goat cheese and lamb terrine, with toasted pistachio and watercress.  This was AWESOME.  The lamb had great flavor and everything just went together well.  And I love that this summer has been FILLED with pistachios (some in every meal this week!)


I chose the slow poached egg with eggplant “caviar” and sea urchin foam.


The waiter described it as “oozing” and he was right.  The egg was perfect and combined so nicely with the eggplant.  The foam wasn’t anything special, but it made it beautiful and it all tasted great.  It had a nice sea salt in it too that really just brought out each flavor.


For our entrees, Mike went with the veal flank steak with chick peas in a Choron sauce.  It was rich in flavor and tasted great.  The sauce especially was great.

I was actually expecting the portions to be much smaller.  This was plenty of food.


I chose the Maine lobster papardelle au poivre with squash blossoms.  This was absolutely beautiful and tasted beautiful.  Great, fresh tasting lobster in a creamy sauce that wasn’t heavy.  The paradelle was modelled with green and tasted perfectly fresh.  The squash blossoms added a nice freshness to it.


For dessert, Mike chose the cheesecake with fresh berries.  This was awesome.  Great vanilla and cheesy flavor.


I went with the caramel coffee dome with vanilla ice cream and amaretto gelee.


This was very good, but I think this is one that was more beautiful than it was delicious.  It needed a bit more texture, but it was still very, very good.


Overall, The Modern remains one of my top picks for Restaurant Week. In my opinion, they do NYC Restaurant Week perfectly by allowing people to try what is actually on the menu, and just shrink the portions a bit to make it affordable for the restaurant.  As someone who wines and dines clients on occasion, this would be very top of the list of where I would take a good client.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Restaurant Week Summer 2011: Black Duck

23 Jul

Our 2nd stop for NYC Summer 2011 Restaurant Week was Black Duck.  Their Restaurant Week selection was anything from their soup and salad section (which included gazpacho, a Bibb lettuce salad, and an arugula salad), pan roasted chicken, fish of the day (which was pistachio crusted fluke, or spring penne pasta for entrée, and dessert was listed as summer strawberry cake.

Mike chose the Bibb Lettuce salad that came with citrus pieces. The dressing on it was very citrusy and fresh.  Nice summer 1

I went with the arugula salad which came with dried figs, onions, roasted pistachios, and shaved pecorino in a champagne-dijon vinaigrette.  I was concerned about the “dijon” part since I’m not a mustard fan, but the entire thing was delicious.

photo 2

While not on the Restaurant Week menu, we chose to get the sliders app. It said it came with mustard, and Mike was kind enough to ask if it was on the side.  We were assured it was… but when it came… no mustard to be found.  Weird.  But the sliders were grilled and well salted, and tasted like they came right off a backyard grill (which isn’t necessarily what I want at a restaurant, but it was still good).

photo 3

Mike’s main course was the spring penne pasta that came with spring peas, yellow cherry tomatoes, regiano, and basil pesto.  I LOVED the peas and the basil pesto.  I wouldn’t say the pasta was anything special, but everything on it was really good.

photo 4

I chose the pistachio crusted New England Fluke over baby bok choy and mushrooms with ponzu. This was VERY tasty, though I’m not sure if I really recognized the pistachio coating as pistachio.  It added a nice crisp, but I was hoping it would be a bit more pisachio-y.

photo 5

My camera battery had actually died just before this meal started, so all these pictures were taken with my iPhone.  It was fine at first, but as it got darker, I had to start using the flash and most pictures just weren’t as nice as with the real camera.  One thing the iPhone can capture, however, that my camera cannot is cool candle lighting.  It made my wine look pretty awesome.

photo 6

For dessert, the waitress came out and started listing off a whole bunch of options. I was surprised since the only one listed was the strawberry cake. I asked her if they were included in the RW menu, and she said not usually but they would make an exception.  Also, she noted that the strawberry cake was actually a strawberry cheesecake.  Mike’s middle name could be cheesecake, so he went in that direction.  It was a bit strange though… it was more like a biscuit cake with a small layer of cheese (marscapone maybe) in between two layers and topped with strawberries.  It was just okay.

photo 7

I decided to order the “chocolate caramel mousse.” I was a bit surprised when a slice came out (I was expecting just mousse) and I’m still not sure where the caramel was (there wasn’t even any drizzled on top. Hmmmmm)  It was good but quite rich and kind of disappointing when I really wanted some caramel.

photo 8

Overall, our meal was very good and we really enjoyed everything.  I wouldn’t say I LOVED it, but I would certainly go back.  There were some awesome sounding dishes on the entrée list that I would definitely want to try!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Restaurant Week Summer 2011: 10 Downing

22 Jul

I try to blog about Restaurant Week here in New York each season.  For my previous NYC Restaurant Week adventures, check out this link.

Our first stop for Summer 2011 was to 10 Downing.  I had heard very mixed reviews.  I felt like a few years ago, everyone said this was one of their top places… but recently there were a number of people who called it a “let down.” I figured Restaurant Week was a good time to try it out.

When we arrived, we noticed that tucked in the corner, chatting away, sat Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin. Pretty cool sighting!

The Restaurant Week menu included a choice of 3 apps (chilled pea soup, sweet shrimp with grits, and heirloom tomato & watermelon salad), 3 entrees (sauteed wild striped bass, chicken with summer squash, and braised short ribs), and 2 desserts (spiced chocolate torte or almond & pecan panna cotta).

Mike chose the sweet shrimp and Anson Mills cheddar grits, which came with garlic, jalapeno, and fried leeks.  He very much enjoyed it.


I went with the chilled English pea soup with buttermilk ice, summer fruits, and puffed barley.  It also had beautiful orchids floating on top.  It was refreshing and the fruit was an awesome pair with the soup.  Perfect for summer.


Mike went with Hudson Valley Farms chicken with summer squash, eggplant, fingerling, and pistou (which is a cold sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil).  It was filled with flavor and surprisingly not “boring” for chicken.


I wanted the short ribs, but was disappointed to hear that they were still 2 hours from being done with the slow cooking (which I found especially strange since our dinner reservation was at 7pm, and while I know people eat late in NYC on a Friday, 9pm to START serving a dish seemed weird).  But they were doing the same preparation (broccoli, bearnaise sauce, and shallot confit) with skirt steak.  So I went for it.  It was delicious and tender, with a great sauce… but…


…There were a number of inedible things on the plate.  From a gob of fat on the steak to a shallot and garlic still in the peel, I found it weird that they didn’t seem to have completed the prep and just threw things on the plate that were supposed to be there but someone didn’t know what to do with them.


Mike went with the spiced chocolate torte with muscato reduction and chipotle cream.  It sounded good, but I couldn’t have it.  Mike said it was “just okay.”


I chose the almond and pecan panna cotta with roasted cherries and madeira.  Now this was AWESOME.  This is how panna cotta is supposed to taste. I have had a lot of panna cottas over the years, and always found it just… eh… But this was a fantastic texture, flavor, and rich in goodness. And the cherries were mmm mmm good!


Overall, 10 Downing was pretty good, and we enjoyed their Restaurant Week selection.  Some things felt just a bit “off” about the service and the prep, but it was quite good food and I’d return for a non-RW meal without hesitation.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10