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May 12, 2008 11:47 PM

Best Museum Restaurants

We'll be visiting NYC from LA next week. On previous visits we've really enjoyed meals at the MOMA and the Neue Gallerie . . . which got me thinking about other restaurants/cafes in museums. Is the Morgan Library cafe worth it? Any other don't miss places while we are enjoying some of the best culture that NYC has to offer??? I did do a search, but it was awkward and I didn't see much.

We'll be at the Javits Center for ICFF. Anything at all around there for lunches? Our last trip there, it seemed fairly remote.

(We have reservations for WD-50 and Merkato 55 for our dinners out but open to suggestions for don't miss places. Just love eating in NY!! We are staying in the Lower East Side).

thanks!! JPB

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  1. I like the atrium cafe at the Morgan Library. A friend originally gushed about the afternoon tea. We liked it the first time we went but were more lukewarm the most recent visit. More specifically, my friend found there were too many sweet items and not enough savories. I have a sweet tooth myself so it was less of an issue but once he made the comment I tend to agree. Also of note was that other diners' meals looked at least as scrumptuous so next time I think I would probably opt to try something else. By the way, while the service was pleasant it wasn't so efficient. That said, it's a lovely setting and worth a stop if you're already at the Library.

    We haven't been to the more formal restaurant at the Morgan but you may want to consider that as well. I'm curious to try it but the small room struck me as a little claustrophobic.

    By the way, I thought I saw a post recently by a Hound who loved the cafe at the Asia Society.

    2 Replies
    1. re: uwsgrazer

      It was much better when they served Julia Morgan's Gingerbread at tea, with a heap of fresh whipped cream! :-(

      1. re: uwsgrazer

        I second uwsgrazer - The Asia Society's Garden Court Cafe is fancy and really, really good.

      2. I've only had tea at the Morgan Library, but it was very good. The cafeteria at the Met has quite decent food, but is in the basement and not a particularly enjoyable ambiance. Other posters have recommended the Petrie Court Cafe, but I've not tried it. The Trustee's Dining Room there has excellent, albeit expensive, food, and a great view of the park, but I suspect you have to be a member to eat there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          Yes, the Met cafeteria is certainly convenient if you want decent food without leaving the museum.

          I actually enjoy having a glass of wine at one of the tables in the balcony area overlooking the museum's main lobby. There's a chamber music group playing in early evening on Saturdays (maybe other times, too). Sometimes we get a bottle of wine and the cheese plate. It's a large serving, almost enough for a meal, I find. Best to do this at the end of a visit. For me, I'm so mellowed out by then it's hard to gather the strength to look at the art.

          1. re: MMRuth

            My son (age 6) and I had afternoon tea at the Petrie Court Cafe in the Met, last Friday afternoon. It was about $25pp, which is perhaps a teeny bit on the high side for what you get (3 small and relatively mundane tea sandwiches, 4 or 5 very good bite-size pastries, a great currant scone with first-rate jams and cream, plus tea), and the dining area itself is not particularly opulent. But you're in view of the gorgeous sculpture court and the park is right outside the windows, so what the heck. They have a number of other items on the menu if you don't want the tea, and the wine bar menu on Fri-Sat evenings looks quite enticing as well.

            We had first checked out the rooftop cafe, because my son especially liked the idea of lunching in view of the Jeff Koons balloon dogs--which he'd recently seen at the new LACMA/Broad Museum here in L.A.--but as others have mentioned here, the food choices on the roof are *extremely* limited, to the point of inadequacy. For that matter, the non-alcoholic drink selections are also rather scanty. Maybe they do that on purpose, because the view is just awesome up there, and it would be too crowded all the time if you could really have a good meal.

            We spent Thursday at the American Museum of Natural History. We had originally planned to go out of the museum for lunch and then return, but our ticket times for the multitude of (unnecessarily) ticketed exhibitions they have you run around to at AMNH made this impracticable. Under the circumstances, the museum's small Cafe on One (on the first floor, natch) turned out to be quite acceptable. The museum website description for this room effusively promises that it "serves gourmet fare catering to adult diners" with such selections as "house-smoked salmon salad with shaved fennel and fingerling potatoes served on a bed of spinach," "a delicious cheese plate, mouth-watering paninis, and seasonal desserts," and "locally sourced" ingredients. The descriptions are a bit over the top but if you're in the museum this isn't a bad choice at all.

            We checked out the AMNH cafeteria later in the afternoon for a snack and were not impressed--in particular, the selection of desserts was quite limited compared to the better major-museum cafes we've seen. Especially surprising for a museum that caters so heavily to kids.

          2. It's a very small museum but very interesting - Fraunces Tavern and you can have lunch right there.

            1. Thank you so much! Look forward to my visit.

              Anything at all around the Javits Center? Their cafeteria is nothing at all, so am tempted to pack in a lunch from a local deli, unless you have some advice on something nearby to go out to while at the convention center? Thanks again for any advice.

              2 Replies
                1. re: jpb

                  The area immediately surrounding Javits is a restaurant wasteland.

                  I agree with David W that it's worth the short hike to Daisy May's, on the corner of 11th Av. & 46th St. The ribs are first-rate!

                  For excellent Pugliese-style Italian, Osteria Gelsi is on the corner of 9th Av. & 38th St. The timbalo is not to be missed!


                  Marseille, on the corner of 9th & 44th, serves very good French/Mediterranean cuisine in an attractive brasserie setting.