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Marea or The Modern?

A good friend of mine is coming in to town from Western NY for two nights in October and I want to give him a great foodie experience. We're eating at WD-50 on Friday night at his request. On Saturday, I have made reservations at both Marea and The Modern, but am not sure which to choose. Any suggestions as to which would be the better choice? (ps- Money is no issue for the meal and we are both extremely adventurous eaters).

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The Modern
9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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  1. The Modern. While Marea is certainly very good, it is less sophisticated and interesting (and IMO overpriced for what it is). I have always felt I got my money's worth at the Modern. The presentations are beautiful and the flavors live up to them.

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    The Modern
    9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

    5 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      I agree with rrems. A lot of people love Marea and it's a pretty nice space too but I'm a sucker for the Modern Dining Room. If you do decide on The Modern and it's just the two of you ask for a two top table center of the glass wall, it will be the quietest area of the room and it's nice looking out onto the sculpture garden. Also, try to get there a little early and have a cocktail out on the patio.

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      The Modern
      9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

      Marea
      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

      1. re: rrems

        I'm just curious about this assessment that Marea is less sophisticated than the Modern? In what way?

        1. re: RCC

          Quite simply, the food at the Modern is more creative. As another poster pointed out, the menu at Marea is less adventurous.

          1. re: rrems

            I'm not advocating Marea here; in fact, and personally, like the Modern more. But the difference in cuisine, one is Italian (Marea) while the other is Alsace/French/Swiss/etc (Modern), imo, is responsible for the differences in levels of sophistication ... as I think you define it. Whether it's Babbo, Scarpetta or Marea, the presentation and execution are, for lack of better words, relatively simple for good Italian restaurants, but the freshness and tastiness of ingredients are what they attempt to highlight.

      2. I enjoyed both, but my meal at Marea was thus far my best meal of the year. If you're interested, you can find my detailed report here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/805785

        The concensus seems to be that Marea would be phenomenal if you ordered carefully (ie. Lobster with Burrata, Grilled Octopus, Fusilli with Octopus and Bone Marrow, Agnolotti with Sweetbreads, Affogato, etc., and skip the fish courses entirely...).

        The Modern was good. But unfortunately, I did not enjoy the main courses when I dined there. The Chorizo-Crusted Cod was too salty, and the Duck Breast was overcooked. However, I adored the chocolate cart post-meal where you could take whatever the heck you wanted. That was amazing.

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        The Modern
        9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

        Marea
        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cheeryvisage

          I agree. Marea would be my choice based on recent meals at both restaurants. The Modern can be hit or miss, not to mention very small portions.

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          Marea
          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: Riverman500

            How similar/different are the Bar Room and the Dining Room at the Modern? I have been to the Bar Room a few times now, all but two of them for desserts only (which are phenomenal and some of best in the city, IMO. Props to the pastry chef.) Last time we decided to have a full dinner there and while everything was good, nothing blew me or my husband away, and frankly the meal left us feeling a little unsatisfied. For instance, I was looking forward to trying heirloom tomato terrine (it was a special) hoping for that bright tomato flavor, and the dish just fell flat. Also I almost never complain about portion size, but I thought with most dishes, portions were rather small. We ordered the duck breast, which was one dish that was truly excellent, and there wasn't even a full breast present even though the dish came from "Three" section of the menu. I keep wanting to try the Dining Room since so many 'hounds rave about it - but I'm not too hot on the Bar Room. Maybe they are very different? Or maybe I should stick to stopping by the Bar Room after dinner elsewhere and getting desserts like I have been?

            I have not been to Marea yet (it's on my shortlist) but in the OP's situation, I would probably go w/ Marea - I think it makes a nice contrast to wd-50, classic vs. experimental, etc.

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            The Modern
            9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

            1. re: uwsister

              Hey uwsister, there was a thread about Bar Room vs. Dining Room at The Modern here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/808449 . That thread might be better for any in-depth discussion comparing the two.

              Mostly, the Dining Room has more refined food, amuses and post-meal chocolates, better service, and better ambiance and view. I dined there about a month and a half ago. You can find pictures of my meal here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi... .

              Regarding the Bar Room, portion sizes really vary. I think the Duck Breast might be the smallest item from the 3 section. However, the Duck Confit is the size of a regular entree. The Tarte Flambee is also pretty large, pizza-size I hear. Though, my favorite dishes so far are Alsatian Soup, Squab, Duck Breast, and Beignets. I also have pictures of my meals at Bar Room here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi... . RGR has lots of pictures on the restaurant too (Bar and Dining Room). You should check her flickr out also.

              Because I live in the neighborhood, I visit The Bar Room a lot more frequently because they are casual, take walk-ins, and there isn't a minimum base price you're expected pay (unlike the Dining Room's prixe fixe). Once, I only ordered the Squab and Beignets and were perfectly satisfied because the Beignets were huge-portioned.

              Wow, I ended up rambling here even thought I meant to point you to a different thread. Anyway, I really enjoy the Bar Room and am slowly exploring their menu. I've started dropping in once or twice a month.

          2. re: Cheeryvisage

            The idea that one must "skip the fish courses entirely" at a seafood restaurant in order to get an excellent meal is deeply troubling to me. Marea is on the list of NYC restaurants that I won't be returning to.

            1. re: nmprisons

              I see your point. But I guess from my perspective, I'm not a critic, nor do I restrict myself to going to only the "absolute best" restaurants in the city. What I care about is having a great meal and a good time. Marea's strength is in its seafood appetizers and pasta. The fact it's not as strong in the fish courses doesn't actually bother me because it fully satisfies my criteria when I dine out. I evaluate a meal based on enjoyment, rather than the "principle" of it. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. :)

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              Marea
              240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          3. Hands down Marea. I don't know what you mean by "less sophisticated". Less pretentious for sure. It was quiet and the service was friendly and helpful. The food is the best. I do agree about the main courses not being the best part of the meal - but isn't that true everywhere? I had a perfect dinner of crudo, appetizer and pasta the other night. Timed perfectly with my dinner companions suggested four course meal.

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            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

            1. these are 2 very very different places in feel, setting, and cuisine.

              marea is a little more old school in demeanor, and the menu is far less adventurous. still delicious, and as most know by now the fusilli is one of the best single pasta dishes available in NYC

              the modern is, well, more modern. the lighting is dimmer, the setting more styled, the menu more adventurous.

              you will get a great meal at either - this is more about your desires and expectations than the skill in the kitchen, which is top notch in both

              1. Marea. I've been to both and I'd pick Marea over the Modern any time. I'll always go with food over decor.

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                Marea
                240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019