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Moderne Barn Opens, Dinner with Fireworks Views, and a Cool Strawberry Tomato Soup

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Moderne Barn: Big, New, and Open!

Money always helps, doesn’t it?  According to Taner Yigiter, Moderne Barn’s GM, his stumble-free first night was preceded by a six-night “friends and family”–a costly, restaurant-world dry-run designed to debug a new venue. After a good, expensive warm-up (where it apparently fed half the county for free), Moderne Barn is now a well-oiled machine, but in case diners encountered any growing pains, the restaurant discounted its tabs by 20 percent for the first week. Oh, and PS, though it’s a 200-seat restaurant, Moderne Barn limited reservations to 100, lavishing its attention on the few diners lucky to snag reservations. While restaurants have to be so careful nowadays (with lowlife bloggers—comme moi—creeping in on the first night), I also get the feeling that the Livanos Restaurant Group values first impressions.

Of course, that’s perfectly obvious with one look at the space, where soaring, walnut-paneled barrel vaults support vast, circular iron chandeliers. Designed by Kim Nathanson of Morris-Nathanson Design, the bi-level space is neatly defined by three large photographs by Roberto Dutesco. These practically sizzling, black and white images depict wild horses running on Sable Island; they succinctly express this design’s dual aesthetic of rustic yet modern. Here’s a pic of the chandelier with cool, pear-shaped crystals.

While first tastes are not reviews—it’s way too soon to pass judgment—I have to say that, at this point, Moderne Barn is built to please. Not only is it taking no chances with its suave service, but this menu is the definition of democratic. Expect crowd-pleasing standards (including meatballs, matzo ball soup, pizza, burgers, pasta, and steak) served with an eye toward popular appeal.

On the steamy night of our visit, cigars of tuna taquitos were as refreshing as slipping into a cool ocean. Dairy-packed spinach salad arrived lavishly dressed in mild Gorgonzola; I could have picked every one of its candied pecans from my partner’s dish (heroically, I didn’t). Best was a pancetta-scented grilled octopus paired with creamy white lima beans—who knew that sucker-studded tentacles could be so pretty?

It was sly to order ricotta gnocchi, a dish often attempted (and rarely perfect), but the little pillows that emerged managed to be both un-doughy and meltingly tender. Tortilla-crusted salmon with bacon lardon chowder struck the only off note in the meal. My partner spat out a chunk of pork, while I actually liked the fish’s flavor. However, its sweet corn-and-potato chowder hinted of late-summer tastes to come.  
 
Desserts ran toward guaranteed sellers. Time will tell whether this roster (which, on our visit, included a trio of crème brulees, strawberry/rubabrb compote, vanilla panna cotta, and a dense chocolate cake) is geared toward popularity or its ease in a new kitchen. Wines, a big story here, are accessed via a catwalk hung over the bar. The bottles are visible in cool, glass-enclosed mezzanine alcoves, and while the structure is pretty, I’m glad I don’t have to walk that suspended steel grid a thousand times per night.  

Let me know your impressions, too!

Fireworks and Food: Can’t Beat Them with a Stick

Why suffer in buggy crowds when you can see rockets red glare in style? These Fourth of July food events offer fireworks along with forks— but we’re talking hot tables, so don’t wait to make that res.

Crabtree’s Kittle House is all about Location, Location, Location, where neighbors at Mount Kisco Country Club fortuitously provide a great fireworks display. The Kittle House will be offering its dinner menu until 9pm, then switching to an “All-American Lobster Bake” for the rest of the night. This four-course menu features Blue Point oyster stew; local field greens with fresh herbs and Rainbeau Ridge goat cheese; steamed 1 1/2 pound lobsters with clams, shrimp, corn on the cob, and Red Bliss potatoes; and, for dessert, warm bread pudding a la mode with fresh whipped cream. The lobster bake costs $48 per person, exclusive of tax, tip, and beverages—plan to get there in time for the fireworks, which are scheduled to hit at 9:30 pm.

Pier Restaurant and Tiki Bar Though it got a lonely one spot from the Times’s august M. R. Reed, tiki mania is white-hot right now, and who wants to get into the car and drive back from the City after a vicious scorpio bowl? This palm-fronded kitsch fest might not have stellar food (though we’ve not visited yet), but with views like this and strong drinks, who really cares? Best of all, Playland shoots some of the County’s greatest fireworks, and this joint’s right on the amusement park’s boardwalk.

Pops, Patriots, and Fireworks at Caramoor Though this Fourth of July event is clearly for the musically minded, foodies can content themselves with pre-made Caramoor picnics available for order here. Look for a choice of four menus, offered from $25 to $35. The evening program promises “…Michael Barrett leading the orchestra of St. Luke’s in saluting our Nation’s 234th birthday. Tchaikovsky’s famous 1812 Overture will be paired with American patriotic favorites by Sousa and Ferde Grofe (On the Trail). The first electronic instrument ever invented—the Theremin, championed by Caramoor’s founder Lucie Rosen, will make a guest appearance under the skilled fingers of Rob Schwimmer. A spectacular fireworks display promptly follows the concert.” 

Summer Strawberry Soup at Moderne Barn

 Cool and gemlike, this pretty summer refresher one-ups the usual starters by simply being a stunning object. Imagine essential summer flavors (fragrant strawberries and tart tomatoes) partnered in one icy scarlet sip. For sustenance, and a bit of crunch, the ruby liquid comes with guacamole crostini—this is our idea of summer cookout cuisine.

 

Chef Brian Lewis of Bedford Post Makes Wild Stinging Nettle Risotto

This is a couple of months old, but I love this back-of-the-house view of Chef Lewis—and I’m digging that dish in an intense, pornographic way. But best description of Bedford Post?  “A real local hang.”

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