So I told you how I love the Restaurants We Love column in Sunday Life. Well, just in case you missed last Sunday’s here it is again….
This story, by the way, was written by Life & Style writer Heather Salerno. Photos were taken by Journal News photographer Joe Larese.
For five decades, the occupant of 430 Bedford Road in Armonk was the Modern Furniture Barn, a contemporary furniture store known far and wide for its impeccable taste and eclectic merchandise.
In the past year, the location’s current resident has established itself as just as much of a destination, though it now draws foodies instead of design buffs. Yet Moderne Barn, a casual but sophisticated eatery whose name pays tribute to its predecessor, can also lay claim to a stunning style, one that’s as attractive as its first-rate seasonal cuisine.
Operated by the Livanos family — which also runs the City Limits diners in White Plains and Stamford and New York City’s Oceana, Abboccato and Molyvos restaurants — Moderne Barn has a vibe that’s been described as “urban country chic.” That’s a perfect assessment, considering that the décor wouldn’t be out of place at a downtown hotspot, yet is right at home in northern Westchester’s equestrian community.
In fact, horses are an important part of the visuals here, with three compelling black-and-white prints from photographer Roberto Dutesco of the wild horses of Sable Island displayed on one wall. And though there’s plenty of wood everywhere, from the farmhouse tables to the vaulted, walnut-barrel ceiling, it’s the not least bit barn-like — thanks to dramatic, Edison-bulb chandeliers and enormous, floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of light.
But the eye is immediately drawn to the wood-and-glass wine loft, a clever substitute for a cellar, that’s suspended high above the long polished bar. (With hundreds of bottles of wine, beer and spirits, drink choices are vast: There are more than 40 wines offered by the glass alone.) The sharp touches don’t end there though. At each table, butter is placed on a tiny stone slab and still water is poured from a vintage-looking glass bottle.
Then there’s the food, of course, a New American menu with a Mediterranean influence that was created by chef Ethan Kostbar. There are comfortable classics like steaks, burgers, paninis and salads although they usually have a fancy twist: The hot dog is made of high-end Wagyu beef, topped with smoked gouda cheese and sauerkraut, and the flat-bread pizza selections are basil pesto, white clam or black mission fig.
At a recent lunch with a friend, we started with the Nonna Meatballs, which were wonderfully light and topped with a creamy dollop of ricotta and fresh basil. Yet we were knocked out, in particular, by the heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad. We worried that the tomatoes would be bland, since they’re mostly out of season now, but these were Kumatos, a variety that looks a little odd (they’re a kind of brownish green with a tinge of red) but were incredibly juicy and sweet.
Then we moved on to the roasted “free bird” chicken, a half-chicken that had a nice crispy skin, but was still moist and flavorful inside. The day boat scallops were delicious, too — firm, perfectly seared and served on a bed of spinach.
Sampling a few of the excellent side dishes is a great idea, especially if you’re not shy about sharing. Tangy, shoestring fries, made with rosemary and sea-salt are an option, and the roasted Brussels sprouts (mixed with dried cranberries) were so tasty they’d turn around any veggie-hater.
Don’t think about leaving without dessert — no matter how tight your waistband might be.
The sweets at Moderne Barn are made by executive pastry chef Tracy Kamperdyk Assue, who’s also in charge of the famous treats at the Livanos’ City Limits restaurants. There’s house-made ice cream and sorbet, strawberry compote spoon sweets, a key lime tart and more, including the scrumptious vanilla cheesecake (made with Tahitian vanilla beans) and “three-way” crème brûlée (a sampling of milk chocolate, pistachio and lemon grass, served in a trio of sweet little white pots).
The Livanos family decided to open its latest restaurant in Armonk for a simple reason: It’s their hometown. But even if Armonk isn’t in your backyard, a trip to Moderne Barn is worth it.