The best museum eats

Go for the food, stay for the art.

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  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    The Bar Room at the Modern

    The Bar Room at the Modern

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Spicy pakoras at The Caf @ RMA

    Spicy pakoras at The Caf @ RMA

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Fried crab cake at Garden Court Cafe

    Fried crab cake at Garden Court Cafe

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Caf Sabarsky

    Caf Sabarsky

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Apple strudel at Caf Sabarsky

    Apple strudel at Caf Sabarsky

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Smrgs Chef

    Smrgs Chef

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Herring sampler at Smrgs Chef

    Herring sampler at Smrgs Chef

Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

The Bar Room at the Modern

The Bar Room at the Modern

The Bar Room at the Modern
Ever since Danny Meyer took over the MoMA's concessions in 2004, things have been looking up. Though dining options include the James Beard Award--winning Modern, we favor its more casual annex. Museum-quality art—The Clearing (2003) by Thomas Demand hangs here—provides an elegant backdrop for chef Gabriel Kreuther's Alsatian-tinged menu. Classics like tarte flamb ($14) and the more contemporary white chocolate panna cotta with blackberries and raspberry marshmellows and pistachio ice cream ($12) remind us that art can be edible, too.

The Caf @ RMA
The Rubin's Himalayan exhibitions may run for months at a stretch, but the specials change daily at the Caf @ RMA, giving you reason enough to drop by whether you're gearing up to galleryhop or just running errands in Chelsea. North Indian finger food like spicy pakoras ($10), and the Anglo-Indian mulligatawny soup ($7.50) make for satisfying quick lunches. The excellent potato and pea samosa ($10.50) packs an entire spice rack worth of heat—dip the corners in salty rhubarb chutney to cool off, though you may wind up slurping the rose-hued sauce by the spoonful. 150 W 17th St at Seventh Ave (212-620-5000)

Garden Court Caf
The Asia Society's sculptures, ceramics and contemporary multimedia installations cover about as much territory as the Pan-Asian menu in the tranquil Garden Court Caf. Sip a glass of floral iced tea, like the lili'uokalani, mixed with fruit juices ($4), while relaxing beneath the flowering trees in the atrium. Meanwhile, a delicately fried crab cake ($12) with rich cilantro aioli and a side salad of fennel tossed in lime juice is very East-meets--Upper East Side. Though you don't have to visit the museum to enjoy the peaceful eatery, you might not be able to resist. 725 Park Ave between 70th and 71st Sts (212-570-5202)

Caf Sabarsky
The Austrian artist Gustav Klimt was known for his sumptuous "Golden Style," in which portraits of women incorporated the precious metal in as many ways as possible. Though we can't promise the same level of luxury at the Neue Galerie's Caf Sabarsky, it comes pretty close. The Austro-German museum's destination caf—located in the former dining room of a Beaux Arts mansion—showcases chef Kurt Gutenbrunner's superb Viennese pastry. Linger over some of the city's best coffee (try the Wiener Melange—espresso with hot milk and a foam crown) with flaky apple strudel ($9) or bratwurst over riesling-braised sauerkraut with hot mustard ($14). Unlike Klimt's ladies, you may not feel like disrobing after a feast of this magnitude. 1048 Fifth Ave at 86th St (212-288-0665)

Smrgs Chef
If your summer vacation doesn't include a trip to the land of the midnight sun, get a little closer with a visit to Scandinavia House, the city's home for contemporary art from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Scandinavian culinary culture, meanwhile, comes courtesy of this outpost of Smrgs Chef. The whimsical decor features a white picket fence and silvery birch tree, while the effervescent menu offers fresh lingonberry soda ($3.50), a house-cured herr ing sampler with triangles of traditional lefse (crpelike potato pancakes, $12) and a finale of an airy vanilla waffle served with cloudberry preserves and chantilly ($6). 58 Park Ave btw 37th and 38th Sts (212-847-9745)

 

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