The award-winning New York chef John Fraser has partnered with the museum on a new dining experience. 

By Bridget Hallinan
February 13, 2019
Photo by Sarah Van Liefde.

In February, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a flashy new partnership with chef John Fraser (of Nix and The Loyal), who is now developing rotating seasonal menus for the on-site restaurant, The Dining Room.

The first installation, the winter menu, focuses on mushrooms and features five Fraser-developed courses: Royal Trumpet Mushroom Carpaccio, Chanterelle Polenta, Steamed Bass, Prime Rib, and, to finish, Porcini Pavlova. (No actual porcini mushrooms were involved in the dessert, before you ask.) The menu is available now through April, according to the Met’s team—last Friday, we tasted Fraser's new dishes, and they lived up to his reputation. From being greeted with a "Passion About It" cocktail (bergamot, passion fruit, ginger, bubbles) to dining on decadent polenta and prime rib, each course was thoroughly thought-out and, above all, fun. 

“Forest Mushroom Exploration” is available during brunch, lunch, and dinner. If you’re able to snag a reservation in the next few weeks, it’ll be well worth it. (Plus, the Dining Room used to be a members-only restaurant, so it’s worth experiencing if you haven’t been). Here’s what you can expect: 

Umami reigns supreme

Each dish was powerfully savory, thanks to the prevailing theme of mushrooms. The chanterelle polenta, in particular, was a stand-out, with the poached hen egg, polenta, chestnuts, and truffles blending into creamy, salty bites. The onion and caramelized maitake mushroom galette, which pairs with the prime rib, was also memorable. 

There's plenty of wine

The tasting menu experiences pairs a wine with each course, so pace yourself. Course one starts off with a white—Tatomer’s “Meeresboden” Grüner Veltliner 2017, from Santa Barbara, California—and then you gradually veer darker, journeying from white to rosé to Cabernet Sauvignon. The final wine, paired with dessert, is a Madeira by Henriques & Henriques—a very smoky, almost caramel-tasting wine that nicely complements the vanilla cream and chocolate pudding. 

You're not alone

Throughout the meal, you’ll have staff on hand explaining every detail to you—what wine you’re drinking as it’s poured into your glass, and why it was paired with its respective course. The same goes for the dishes (and watching broth smoothly poured over the steamed bass and prime rib was super satisfying.) 

Photo by Sarah Van Liefde.

Certain dishes, like the carpaccio and steamed bass, were very light and delicate—others, like the chanterelle polenta and prime rib, were more hearty (though delicious, nonetheless). It’ll take you a good two hours to make your way through the menu, so make sure you come hungry.

The dessert may be shaped like a mushroom, but no mushrooms were harmed in the recipe

Course five, "Porcini Pavlova," looks like a sprouted white mushroom emerging from the earth—but don't be deceived. If you break open said mushroom, you'll find vanilla cream inside, paired with a crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth exterior over chocolate pudding and cocoa crumbs.

Try to book a Friday or Saturday dinner slot

The Met stays open later on Fridays and Saturdays (9:00 p.m. versus 5:30 p.m.), so if you plan an early dinner, you can wind through your favorite galleries after.

Reservations for The Dining Room can be made on OpenTable, or by calling 212-570-3975.

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