modern beat

it is restaurant week here in nyc and that can mean one of two things:

1. delicious, quality, fancy food at a fraction of the cost

2. bad, boring, overpriced food that still isn’t worth it

blue ribbon brasserie is a great example of the second; only three options on a three course menu, so i had no choice but to get the exact same meal as my dining partner- which, all those serious eaters out there know, is a cardinal sin of eating out. furthermore, the three options were about the most boring and bland things i've had in a while- caesar salad, roast chicken and chocolate cake. i know, i know, it is my fault for going to a place that prides itself on "home-cooking" for restaurant week when i could have made a better version of that meal at home.

well, i learned my lesson because after that fiasco my taste in restaurant week has improved. now the first restaurant on my list is always the modern, which is the apex of restaurant week hospitality. first of all, there are at least six (SIX!) choices for each of the courses. second, they are taken from the regular menu, not created cheaply to serve the hungry hoi polloi that only eat out at fancy places during restaurant week. and third, they don't give you the regular menu and force you to offer the inevitability embarrassing "ummm, excuse me, i'm here for restaurant week" request- no they just hand you one menu- the ultimate in restaurant democratization.

if all that weren't enough, the food is good. really good. like seriously-i-would-actually pay-the-regular-prices-if-i-could-afford-them good. i had sweetbreads, which is the culinary euphemism for the thymus gland of a calf and something that would usually totally gross me out (i'm not that squeamish, but anything that needs repeated soakings to drain the blood out of it, i'm not totally stoked about). however, paired with my mushroom gnocchi, they were the perfect (albeit spongy) complement to the rich pillowy gnocchi. the artic char tartare was a nice departure from the requisite tuna tartare, and although it could have used one more squeeze of lemon, was very fresh, light and satisfying. the desserts were even better. grace had the weirdly incongruous sounding salted caramel parfait with coconut tapioca and mango sorbet, which was the surprise winner of the night, and i had what was essentially a nutella napoleon, but was called a "hazelnut dacquoise", which obviously made it taste better. it was a lovely, luxurious meal all for under $40- always a winner in my book.

the one downside, which actually turned out great, was that the reservations were at nine thirty. this meant quite a lot of time to kill in midtown. if you don't have money, or like to drink, this basically is a recipe for disaster, until i realized that the NYPL (god bless it!) had a kerouac exhibit up with the original scroll of "on the road". i'm not sure if i should be ashamed or not, but "on the road" was my favorite book in high school and still ranks up there for me as meaningful literature. as i was walking around the exhibit, seeing all the original photos of which i had postcard facsimiles up in my high school locker, i just kept thinking how incredibly exited my 15 yr old self would have been. she probably would have found a way to thwart the over-zealous guard who kicked us out 10 minutes before the posted closing time so he could go have a smoke. she probably would have tried to camp out overnight in the room, actually, like a mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler for teenagers. now, the beats are at best only marginally part of my life, but it was nice to revisit those feelings I had of camaraderie with this motley, desperate crew. it reminded me what a long, long way i've come. and coming home to a house full of crazy kittens who apparently forgot how to use the litter box reminded me how much further i have to go.

The Modern

Kerouac Exhibit at the NYPL
johnnn said...

this post convinced me to never go to restaurant week until I get a bit more confidence in my ability to tell what is good food and what isn't

the 'on the road' story is special, as I think you know while I never read the book I did listen to the unabridged audiobook as read by Matt Dillon over a couple weeks of the magical summer when me and Jon Schwartz worked in the stacks at Butler. I remember listening to it on the 12th floor, which had the best vibes, in particular, as well as the smell of all the old books, which was nice. Matt Dillon did a pretty good job reading it too iirc

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