By Meryl Pearlstein
Art and food make a satisfying pairing in New York City. Responding to increasing museum popularity and culinary sophistication, museums have upped their game with dining options to please the most discerning palates. Skip the cafeterias or hot dog stands and grab a seat at these varied eateries without leaving the museum.
MANHATTAN’S MUSEUM MILE
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Affectionately known as the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the grande dame of Museum Mile, celebrating its 150th year with mega indoor and roof exhibits. Equally groundbreaking, the Met has added a summer sidewalk café to its lineup of dining options. A welcome spot to refresh after walking the galleries, the Plaza Café offers a changing menu of sandwiches from Chef Bill Telepan, snacks, and fruit ice pops from Brooklyn’s own People’s Pops. Order your “picnic” from the counter at 83rd Street and pick your favorite people-watching table overlooking the fountain. Info: metmuseum.org
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Named after museum architect Frank Lloyd Wright, The Wright at the Guggenheim also joins in New York City’s burgeoning café culture with the new “Summer at the Wright” experience. In a prime location across from Central Park in front of the spiral-shaped museum of contemporary art, the new outdoor café features a menu of wine, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
Neue Galerie New York Near New York City’s iconic Metropolitan Museum and inside a landmark 1914 mansion, Café Sabarsky offers an old world setting for Austrian and German fare at Neue Galerie New York. You might feel like you’re sitting in the café at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna but for the view of Central Park, along with the under-the-radar experience. Museumgoers in the know, however, line up for the restaurant’s schnitzel and goulash with a beloved Sacher torte to finish. If you’re lucky, someone might be playing the beautiful Bösendorfer piano in the corner. Info: neuegalerie.org
MORE IN MANHATTAN
The Frick Madison The temporary home of The Frick Collection during the renovation of its 85-year home, the Frick Madison in the former Whitney Museum and Met Breuer space has the perfect spot for a coffee break. Below street level with a view of the outdoor patio, New York’s own JoeCoffee is an urban oasis for a “coffee and something” refresher after touring the collection of masterworks. The coffee bar is designed with striking materials and textures, fitting beautifully in the modernist building designed by Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer in 1966. Indoor and garden patio seating are offered. Info: frick.org/madison
The Whitney Museum of American Art Union Square Events from Danny Meyer is the culinary force behind The Whitney’s grab-and-go café. With new outdoor tables and limited indoor seating, the café at The Andrea and James Gordon Restaurant serves up a menu of American fare from a glass-enclosed space designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano. An all-day salad, sandwich and soup menu features American favorites like grilled cheese, pastrami and chicken noodle soup, all given an upmarket, gourmet twist.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Midtown’s MoMA is the home of two Michelin-starred The Modern. Re-opening this summer, the restaurant offers two choices, an à la carte Bar Room or the more formal Dining Room with a prix fixe menu served overlooking the Sculpture Garden. You’ll want to try scallop with pumpkin and tarragon ravioli, for example, from the à la carte menu as one of your small plate selections. Craft cocktails and wines complement. While prix fixe choices change frequently, you can expect elegantly prepared selections from Chef Thomas Allan like foie gras roasted with lemon and deconstructed green apple panna cotta. Info: themodernnyc.com
Museum of Arts and Design High above busy Columbus Circle, Robert has a privileged perch atop the Museum of Arts and Design. The restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows and pops of color throughout, a fitting complement to the unusual façade of the white terra-cotta building. The menu, which rotates like the exhibits, is modern American with presentations as dramatic as the views of Central Park and the street below. For a dose of culinary color, follow the restaurant’s Instagram @robertrestaurant. Closed Monday. Info: robertnyc.com
ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Brooklyn Museum The second-largest art museum in New York City has the city’s most fun museum restaurant, The Norm. Worth a repeat visit, the Brooklyn Museum restaurant changes in design and menu to reflect the persona of whatever blockbuster exhibit is scheduled. Past exhibitions have included Studio 54 Night Magic brought to life through photographic portraits of Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and Liza Minelli; and a menu of Steve Rubell favorites like The Stevie sandwich with a meatball stuffed with mac ‘n cheese. In the meantime, check out the BKM food truck in front of the museum for the fun “tots” menu and the Liberty Salad in a jar with red beet and chickpea couscous, spinach, tomatoes feta and carrots, dressed with sumac vinaigrette.