lunch near MOMA on a Friday
My mom and I are going to see the Tim Burton show at MOMA and I'd like to treat her to a pre-show birthday lunch. Something not too pricey, tasty and with a little charm - preferably with some vegetarian options. Anywhere in the midtown area would be fine. We like to walk anyway. Any suggestions?
Bar Room at the Modern is right next door and a good choice that seems to meet your criteria. It's elegant, will be pretty quiet at that time of day, and is just special enough for a small bday with your mom. It's not exactly "vegetarian-friendly," but there are a couple of vegetarian options -- you can get the tagliatelle without the rabbit, for example, and they may even charge a little less for it if you ask. There's a green salad (which is good) and a mushroom soup that they could maybe leave the chorizo ravioli out of.
I'm vegetarian and have eaten there a few times. Recommended.
I would have to disagree with your comment that the Bar Room would be quiet at lunch. Au contraire! Although we have not dined there, we have had lunch in The Modern's formal dining room. The two spaces are separated with a wall that has a huge opening at the back end end. The Bar Room was very busy and quite noisy. Unfortunately, that noise filtered into the dining room.
You might want to consider to Jean Georges. The 2 plates for $29 + $8 per dessert is one of the best lunch deals in town, and there are a number of vegetarian dishes on the menu. Elegant rather than charming. A lovely place to have a celebratory meal.
"Although we have not dined there..."
I've been twice recently -- once for a late lunch a couple weeks ago, once for an early dinner back in January. Both times, the noise level was not at all impeding conversation. For the lunch, it was even quiet. I'd be happy to take my mom there for her birthday -- though not during the rush. :-)
I'm going with suggestion of the Bar Room at the Modern. Elegant. sophisticated and with great Alsace-inspired dishes, with sufficient choices with excellent vegetarian options. Don't miss out on the Tarte Flambee. Plus, if you're a wine-drinker, the list by the glass or the by the bottle, is just robust enough for any price point. The room, just like the Museum, is a perfect segue to visiting the Museum,
As said above, the Jean Georges $29 two course lunch deal is outstanding. I consider it the best option within walking distance of the MoMA by far and it is the best high-end lunch deal in the city (along with EMP). It would easily be my first choice.
If you're in the mood for refined Northern Italian, definitely try Alto. Not quite as much of a steal as the Jean Georges lunch, but $36 for two courses is still much cheaper than the dinner menu. I think it has legitimate claim to the top tier of Italian restaurants in NYC.
Seasonal is also close by and their $27 three course lunch is a great deal as well. Modern Austrian cuisine isn't the easiest thing to find and it's done very well there.
I like the Bar Room quite a lot; much of the menu is very strong. But as noted above, it's quite noisy. You may prefer somewhere else for a birthday lunch. The convenience of being in the museum itself is great though.