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41st Bday - EMP for lunch or The Modern Dining room for dinner ?

Nice to have these kinds of choices in life I guess.

I could not get an Eleven Madison Park dinner reservation for next Weds, although I was able to secure a 12pm lunch spot.

Alternatively I am able to get a 5:45pm spot at The Modern in the dining room.

EMP for dinner is the first choice - but I wondered would the hounds steer me towards doing EMP
for lunch instead of The Modern for dinner for a birthday celebration ?

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

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  1. EMP without any hesitation.

    1. These are 2 of my favorite restaurants in NYC and they have both been very very good to me, If this was my decision it would come down to when you want to dine, I usually think of evening for more special celebrations but if that is no concern I will give the nod, but not an slam dunk over whelming nod, to EMP. Which ever you choose you will have a wonderful dining experience.

      1. Are you on the wait list for dinner at EMP, if not, it's a good idea. I've had success this way a few times.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Nancy S.

          This is excellent advice. For a Wed night, I would think you'd have a pretty good chance of getting a dinner res in the end. And if not, you've still got your res at The Modern to fall back on, which is not a bad place to be.

        2. Absolutely EMP. I had a superb lunch there this week. I actually prefer lunch there over dinner. The room in the daylight is spectacular. And service at lunch is just as sublime. A delight in every way.

          The Modern is not in the same league.

          6 Replies
          1. re: gutsofsteel

            I think regulars on this board know which I would choose. However, I do think you are being a little bit too dismissive of The Modern Dining Room. Of course, it isn't a 4-star. But Chef Gabriel Kreutzer is very talented (he won the JBA Best Chef NY a couple of years ago), and we've had some absolutely astonishing food there. We've also had the kind of service one expects at a Danny Meyer restaurant. As for the room, I think its modern design with the view out to the sculpture garden is very fitting for its location in MoMA. My big gripe is that when the Bar Room is busy, the very high noise level there can be heard in the Dining Room, which would certainly be the case at the time of the o.p.'s reservation. We have had dinner in the Dining Room much later in the evening when the Bar Room was not so busy, and noise was not a problem.


            1. re: RGR

              I didn't say Kreutzer isn't talented nor did I "dismiss" the Modern. I don't pay any attention to the JB awareds - I think it's all a silly popularity contest based on politcs, nor do I care about the NYT start system - in fact you have said as much yourself. But I still think the Modern is not in the same league at EMP. And I find the service not anywhere close to the level of service at EMP. I like the Modern, but it just doesn't come close to EMP.

              1. re: RGR

                I find the noise level to be bad at The Modern, but it is quite good fun to be a bit frazzled at lunch, not dinner though, definitely dinner at EMP.

                1. re: bronwen

                  I dont find high noise levels "fun" ever.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    As I've made quite clear countless times on this board, neither do I!


                  2. re: bronwen

                    I went for lunch in the bar room on 3/29 and actually found the noise quite modest - it wasn't Cafe Boulud or EMP quiet, but certainly no more loud than Ai Fiori or Rouge Tomate on the same trip.


                    Cafe Boulud
                    20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

                    Rouge Tomate
                    10 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022

                    Ai Fiori
                    400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

              2. Presuming you mean Wed., March 23rd, a check of OpenTable right now shows that EMP has a reservation for two on that evening at 6 and 6:15 p.m. -- a bit later than your 5:45 p.m. at The Modern. So, if you prefer to celebrate at dinner and want to do so at EMP, grab one!


                6 Replies
                1. re: RGR

                  Thanks for the responses all. I did manage to change my reservation to 6pm at EMP.

                  I'll let you know how it went.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Hey guys,

                    Another question, is there anything you recommend in particular?

                    We are thinking about going all out for the tasting with wine pairings (only live once)

                    I heard about a duck dish that you have to order ahead of time ?


                    1. re: nycgenki

                      There is a duck for two that gets raves but I don't think you need to order it ahead of time. You should be able to order it once you're there. Happy birthday.

                      1. re: nycgenki

                        I've had the wine pairing several times and have always been happy. If there's an egg dish as one of your choices, I would recommend that.

                        1. re: Nancy S.

                          Since this string is related to birthdays and EMP I have to add this becuae this was just so fantastic.

                          Very recently celebrated my GF birthday at EMP, did a modified 4 course, and had paired wines. Not only was there a hand written note/card to my GF waiting at the table BUT at the end of the evening our captain (Sophia) dropped off a couple envelopes, we looked inside and upon first galnce we thought it was copies of the menu but upon further inspection we realized not only were they menus but each item we had selected was typed into the appropriate square, there was another set of menu with the wines typed into the appriate course. I thought that was so incredible thoughtful and it is just one more testament to why EMP is the best restaurant in NYC.

                    2. This is a tough call as both are superb, IMO. I think EMP is more "Special" but the food at The Modern is certainly equal and the room quite excellent in its own way.

                      The only issue with the Modern, for me and others, is that the dining room is poorly seperated from the bar and it can get quite loud.


                      19 Replies
                      1. re: uhockey

                        uhockey - I'm right there with you regarding the quality of food at The Modern.

                        1. re: Spiritchaser

                          The Egg in a Jar from the Bar room menu (they let me order it in the main dining room) is amongst my top 5 favorite dishes all time.

                          I'm headed back to the bar room for lunch in 7 short days - just trying to decide if I want to revisit the egg, have a foie fest, or get a lot of duck. Unfortunately too many choices for a single diner!


                          1. re: uhockey

                            On a much more "pedestrian" note have you ever had the liverwurst, it's is addictively good.

                            1. re: uhockey

                              I agree that the egg in the jar is one of my favorite dishes in New York. I wish I liked the rest of the menu more, however. I'm always a bit disappointed by the other courses/dishes. Also, just to note, last time I checked, the egg preparation included scallops instead of lobster.

                              1. re: Nancy S.

                                Nancy S, ditto on the egg using scallops instead of lobster, may have changed back to lobster by now but it was scallops the last several times on the menu.

                                1. re: Spiritchaser

                                  I just noticed that it's back to lobster!

                                  1. re: Nancy S.

                                    That's pretty funny, I went and checked also. Think I know where I need to pay a visit.

                                  2. re: Spiritchaser

                                    I had it about a week ago and it was with lobster. I have to admit, when I started it, although I thought it was good, I wasn't sure what the big fuss was about. To my delight, what started as a delicate flavor unfolded into a symphony of deliciousness.... several times since I have caught myself in egg in a jar reverie...

                                    1. re: IntrepidNook

                                      Exactly! That's what makes it so incredible.

                            2. re: uhockey

                              It's odd that noise is repeatedly mentioned at the Modern, we were last there on a Friday night at 8 (window table) and didn't notice it at all. I love that restaurant, in a perfect world I'd eat there once or twice a week.

                              1. re: buttertart

                                The bar, when full, seems to get really rowdy - nothing wrong with that, it just needs to be better seperated from the main dining room.

                                It would be my ONLY gripe with the restaurant as it is otherwise superb - in my top 5 in NYC, foodwise.


                                1. re: uhockey

                                  The bar was quite full that night - maybe the rowdy ones stayed home. The food is too good to miss.

                                  1. re: uhockey

                                    The noise problem stems from the fact that there is a huge opening at the back end of the wall separating the two rooms. The first time we were there (for lunch), we were sitting directly opposite the opening, and the noise level was extremely high and quite distracting. We asked our captain why they could not close up the opening, and he told us that it was the only access from the Bar Room to the rest rooms. If that is the case, then whoever the designer was made a serious boo-boo.

                                    Our second time there was dinner on a Monday at around 9 p.m. We were seated in the middle of the room in one of the huge booths that's smack up against the wall. However, the Bar Room wasn't very busy, so the noise level in the dining room was appropriately low.

                                    I recently heard from a friend who just had dinner iin the dining room and sat alongside the windows. I'm not sure exactly where her table was located or what time she was there. But she did mention that noise from the Bar Room could clearly be heard.

                                    The odd thing is that the only time we've eaten in the Bar Room (a Sunday evening), while all the tables were occupied, there was literally nobody at the bar, and the noise level was not high.

                                    So, I guess this means that the Bar Room has to really be jammed in order for the noise level to be a problem in either room.

                                    All that said, we loved the food we've had in both rooms. The tasting menu at that first lunch was especially memorable.


                                  2. re: buttertart

                                    You have hit on the "trick" to dining at The Modern, request a table along the windows and away from the bar openings (it's what we always do) and noise is never a problem, this doesn't work for parties of more than two usually. I will however, agree with uhockey that they should/could do a better job of sperating the dining room and the bar room. Regardless, The Modern still ranks way up there on our go to list.

                                    1. re: Spiritchaser


                                      Acc. to the time stamps, we cross-posted at exactly the same moment. See my post with regard to the design problem.


                                      1. re: RGR

                                        I heard that about access to the restrooms and if that really is the reason then as you stated, it's a serious design flaw.

                                        I'm not an Architect but doesn't it strike you as an easy fix?

                                        1. re: Spiritchaser

                                          I'm not an architect either, but I don't see how it can be *easily* fixed. Let's just use some logic here. In order to permanently close up that wide opening, they would have to install another restroom directly accessible from the Bar Room. I've only been in the Bar Room once, so my recollection of the space is hazy. I don't think there is a way to put another restroom near the reception area since the kitchen is in the front. And if they installed it in the back of the room, they'd probably have to take space away from the dining and/or lounge areas.

                                          It's seems obvious that the designers never contemplated the possibility that (a) the noise level in the Bar Room would get so high and (b) that the noise would filter into the dining room at the high level it does. Since I'm not an architect, I have no idea if this is a kind of problem that can be foreseen when designing a space.


                                          1. re: RGR

                                            You don't need more restrooms, they have plenty, the access to the restroom would be the fix but whatev...

                                            1. re: Spiritchaser

                                              I've never used the restroom there. You say there are plenty, but if they are located in such a way that access to them from the Bar Room can only occur by coming into the dining room, then the opening cannot be permanently closed.


                                2. I've only eaten in the Bar Room, and while the food was very good I didn't really care for the vibe of the place and service was quite aloof. I cannot comment on the Dining Room but I have peeked in when visiting the bathroom, since they are situated between the Dining room and Bar Room. To be honest, I just don't really find it very appealing. It just doesn't feel like it is its own entity. It is kind of like... eating at the adult table as opposed to the kiddie table... the restaurants are separated by a wall.

                                  Hands down, I think EMP is the right choice. It is truly its own restaurant with incredible food and in my mind the best service in the city. Some will argue it is so great that it is somewhat "over the top" but I didn't really feel that way. I did feel that way at Del Posto, where they are really try to put on a song and dance and in my mind over do it in all aspects. At EMP, I find them to be truly genuine in trying to give the diner the best experience possible. They hit on all cylinders. I have not been back since the new revamped menu was released, however I can't imagine anything less than a stellar meal there.

                                  Del Posto
                                  85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: steakrules85

                                    Though you are not the only one who has had issues with service in the Bar Room, the one time we ate dinner there (a Sunday evening), service couldn't have been better, i.e., very pleasant and attentive. The food was delicious.

                                    Bar Room at The Modern Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                    Your take on the formal dining room vs the Bar Room is interesting, to say the least. lol

                                    Btw, I should point out that nycgenki did choose EMP (after being able to snag a 6 p.m. reservation) and was supposed to go there last night. I hope s/he reports back on how things went.


                                    1. re: RGR

                                      Well lol, you know me RGR I do not pull any punches when giving my opinion. Unfortunately, I did receive somewhat poor service- took them 20 minutes to even bring me a menu in fact and there were times the waitress was nowhere to be found , forcing me to ask the bus boy clearing my plates between courses for certain things. I hate to do that since it unfair to him since it is not his technically not his job. I agree the food is very good at the Bar Room (some even think it is better than the Dining room probably due to the fact that there are far more options). The lamb chop and beignets were particularly notable. However, there are easily 20 restaurants I'd rather dine at off the top of my head.

                                      When comparing that to EMP, I cannot say the same thing of course =).

                                      Hope the OP had a great meal and yes let's see her verdict.

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        Hi all, wanted to follow up and let you know that our meal at EMP was amazing.

                                        We went for the tasting menu with paired wines. The sommelier suggested that we try some half bottles rather than a glass with each course. We also ordered the duck for 2 which was available for a $30 supplement if I remember correctly - not the $45 each that I had anticipated.

                                        We each had a glass of champagne at the start - we asked for something full flavoured. My girlfriend commented that it was the best glass of champagne she ever had. They brought us a little card describing it - I think only EMP has this champagne.

                                        Very nicely thought out pairings. A reisling at the start then sauterne with the frois gras, albarino with the fish and chateuneuf du pape with the duck.

                                        We thought the initial fish based amuses were delicious - memorable actually. The Uni panna cotta was fantastic as was the sabayon in an egg shell, I'm not sure which fish but it had an incredible strong flavour to it.

                                        My girlfriend manages a bakery and was impressed with the bread.

                                        Daniel Humm was in the restaurant and making the rounds, we asked him about the bread when he came to say hello. He said it's a cross between a croissant and a something else - I forget now !

                                        Moving on we have a delicious Hailbut. It was very subtly flavoured, a little too subtle for the girlfriend. The vegetables and sauce it was served with really highlighted it. It was good but not amazing.

                                        the frois gras course was a miss for us - it was presented in the form of a creme brulee without being in a ramekin. For me it was too sweet and not quite strong enough to power though the amount of sugar that accompanied it.

                                        The next course for me was the best. The most delicious smokey flavoured and perfectly cooked veal. We both agreed that it was out of this world. I would go back just for more of that.

                                        I think we were getting rather full and a little merry at this stage and next came out the duck which is quite the affair with them carving it table side. We both agreed that it was amazing. I personally thought that the saucing on the side (I think it was mango based) was a little over the top. I thought it was too sweet / tart and took away from the duck. The actual duck was rich and perfectly cooked with a lovely crisp skin.

                                        We had a really interesting pre desert and then an amazing chocolate dish to finish.

                                        The one small thing I would say about the meal is that I thought the pacing was too fast. I did ask our waiter to try to slow things down later in the meal. I think next time I will ask ahead of ordering for a slower pace.

                                        The service, food and overall experience was excellent. Very expensive but for that special occasion splurge it's worth it. They just go out of their way to make it perfect.

                                        We are both planning for our next meal there. We plan to have lunch next time, when the srping lamb is available and on the menu. It will be nice to see the room in the daylight.

                                        Thank you for all your help