Museum Meals

Food, as art, comes nowhere better than these museum restaurants

Seeing as New York City’s modern and contemporary museums are the combined efforts of world-famous architects, artists and curators, it’s only fitting that they enlist star chefs too. At these four restaurants, what’s served on the plates is as worthy of praise as what’s hung on their museums’ wall.

The Wright at the Guggenheim Museum  (Fifth Ave. at 89th St.)
The Wright
After you’re sufficiently dizzy from journeying up the circular walkway of the Guggenheim Museum, re-center yourself at The Wright. Fitting right in with the museum so known for its architecture, The Wright is a piece of art in its own right. Its award-winning design by Andre Kikoski features a ceiling mimicking the museum’s exterior and ber-optic walnut. The menu focuses on Middle Eastern small plates like grilled haloumi with bee pollen and apricot compote, sumac roasted chicken with couscous and garden vegetable tangine, and g tart with North African wine sorbet. There’s no dinner, but a secret of the Upper East Side is the restaurant’s brunch, which comes as an edited version of the lunch menu accompanied by dishes like the Farmers Market Omelet and the Wright Wa e topped with whipped honey mascarpone.

 

Untitled at the Whitney Museum (Gansevoort St. at West Side Hwy.)
Untitled_Shaved Asparagus, Turnips, Mizuna_(Alice Gao)
When the new downtown Whitney Museum opened in spring 2015, its restaurant, cleverly named Untitled, got as much attention from the culinary world as the exhibits did from the art market. Nearly devoid of any design adornment, the dining room is a fresh breath of minimalism compared to its glitzy Meatpacking neighbors— an extension of the feel of the museum at large, and a way to focus everyone’s full attention on the rave-reviewed food of Danny Meyer, former owner of Eleven Madison Park. There’s lunch, brunch, and dinner—though go for the latter, no doubt, to get the full effect of Meyer’s magic. Tiny details like pickled cabbage and cherries take normalized dishes like kale salad to high new levels, while other dishes like diver scallops with almond and grapefruit introduce entirely new flavor combinations. It’s safe to say that these dishes count as part of the museum’s art collection.

 

The Modern at The Museum of Modern Art  (53rd St. nr. Sixth Ave.)
Bar Room Pea Salad, Burrata, Mint - credit Nathan Rawlinson

Prior to the Whitney, Meyer first cut his museum-restaurant teeth as founder of The Modern at The Museum of Modern Art, which promptly earned two Michelin stars and multiples James Beard awards. Overlooking the museum’s sculpture garden—grounds for works by Miró, Matisse, and Picasso—the atmosphere is calm and soothing yet undeniably upscale; dining here is most definitely an occasion, so dress appropriately. The French-influenced menu changes regularly, but it always maintains an ingredient list of delicacies, like juniper-cured Hamachi, salmon poached in olive with black truffles and celeriac, and quark cheese mousse with pickled rhubarb and white asparagus ice cream. The accompanying wine list is one of the best in Midtown West as well.

 

Robert at the Museum of Arts & Design (Columbus Circle nr. 58th St.)
Robert
With its colorful light installations catching your eye from all the way down below on Columbus Circle, Robert, the swanky dining room on the ninth floor of the Museum of Art & Design, is all about attention-grabbing air. With nightly jazz, views over the park, and Mediterranean-fusion dishes, it’s unabashedly a sexy place to dine—perfect for a pre-dancing date or late-night bite after a show at nearby Lincoln Center. The menu is anything but minimal, with extensive pasta and main sections, including tagliatelle rich with truffle butter and truffle mushrooms, squid-ink spaghetti in cream sauce, a trio of seafood basking in coconut milk and palm oil, and Hudson Valley duck with chili- spiced chocolate sauce. This is not a restaurant for the faint-of-heart diners (or dieters), but given who it’s named after—lavish party-planner Robert Isabell, who once covered Studio 54 with four tons of glitter—why would it be?