Thank You to anyone who helped celebrate my 27th birthday; especially if you were involved with that incredible dinner at The Modern.
Maybe it was due to the Oscars; but the bar room was dead and I couldn't figure out why. Free corkage (up to 2 bottles) on Sundays, great food, and good service would bring me back more often if it was a bit closer.
We sat down at a table for seven as the early birds finished their cocktails. A modern take on a classic negroni tasted like a cream-sickle as it went down a bit too easy. Or there was the Beneventano --an aperitif made with aperol, zucca amaro, strega, and soda. But what really got the night "poppin" (pun intended) was the Billecart-Salmon Reserve which was poured for us first thing (even before our water). It might have been a skip in service according to Chase; but who could be mad at that kind of mixup.
We started off with some charcuterie and cheese while Lauren planned out our menu. Modern liverwurst, finocchiona, quail terrine, Alsatian garlic saucisson, wild boar cacciatorini, dried chorizo, Morcilla sausage, and jamon iberico all graced the plate and went beautifully with a great cheese selection of La Tur, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, St. Nectaire, Quadrello di Bufala, Brie Fermier Jouvence, Garrotxa, Challerhocker, Podda Classico, and Roquefort d' Argental. Hot walnut/cranberry bread kept us reaching back for more.
The switch to a complimentary soup course was a bit sudden; but again who could complain? White bean soup with smoked potato and crispy lentils were individually placed in front of everyone as the two tarte flambee rested in the middle. Although the one with bacon, creme fraiche, and onion would normally catch my eye, the mushroom flambee won my heart. Hen of the woods mushrooms, chive, and Comte cheese gratine made for a crowd pleaser. They also brought out Scottish salmon tartare, steak tartare, and a foie gras terrine. At this point we had been sipping a 2004 Grand Cru Riesling from Dirler while also drinking an orange wine from Sicily. The orange wine from Sicily wasn't the best; but a hell of a conversation starter.
Next up we went into a fish course with grouper, flounder, cod, scallops, lobster, and yellowfin tuna to name a few. The Alsatian buckwheat spaetzle was a definite crowd pleaser with yellowfin tuna crudo, roasted foie gras, and a black pepper gastrique. My favorite was the slow poached egg in a jar which paired hon shimeji mushrooms and lobster with a sea urchin foam. The Atlantic cod with wild mushrooms and leek "brick" was another table favorite as it brought comfort food to a new level. And this point we were drinking the 99' Maison Leroy.
The meat course brought an array of beautiful dishes like beer-braised pork belly, duck confit, braised tripe, a lamb duet, and a saffron tagliatelle with cider braised rabbit. Although I don't normally like tripe, the modern's was quite good. Saffron tagliatelle wavered on the lines of "too much" but ultimately showed the kitchen's skill in flavor and technique. A few nods around the table agreed that the meat course was the best; but every course proved to be excellent. And if the food wasn't enough, we had been drinking on a 1991 Rhone, 1986 Languedoc blend, and 2000 Barolo.
And if we left after that course, I would have been happy; but we still had more food and wine including what seemed like every dessert on their menu, amaro, grappa, a 2004 Del Forno Valpolicella, and a 1998 Vilmart Magnum to completely cap the night off. Ending with champagne wasn't our original intent; but it turned out to be the perfect ending. We drank alot of great wine, but that chardonnay heavy champagne stole the show. What an amazing dinner with some truly extraordinary people.