Saul Bolton’s Boerum Hill restaurant Saul broke new ground when it opened on Smith Street in 1999 as one of the first fine-dining spots in the borough – at that time on a street that was still sleepy and not yet a destination. Now, in a somewhat surprising move, Bolton has closed his 14-year-old restaurant to reopen this fall in the Brooklyn Museum, where it will serve lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday in a space that includes an outdoor terrace.
While the move from one of Brooklyn’s more famous Restaurant Rows to a museum may seem questionable, New York has a long tradition of quality restaurants in museums — including some of the most highly regarded destinations in the city. Here are our five favorite museum restaurants in New York. Once Saul reopens, we hope to have a sixth.
M. Wells Dinette at MoMA PS1
Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis became the darlings of the food world several years back when they opened the distinctly offbeat M. Wells in Long Island City; after that restaurant’s closure, they’ve brought their same oddball culinary sensibility to M. Wells Dinette at MoMA PS1. Expect unusual dishes and lots of animal parts, whether an oyster and rabbit pot pie or a dry aged meatloaf. 22-25 Jackson Ave.; 718-784-2084; momaps1.org/about/mwells/
The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art
Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group is one of the most highly regarded restaurateurs in the city, and his restaurant The Modern, the recipient of two James Beard awards and a Michelin star, is constantly listed among New York’s finer restaurants. Even the comparatively casual bar room in front is an elegant place to have a meal, with entrees in a somewhat reasonable $25 to $35 price range, while the formal back room is one of the city’s finest fine dining destinations. 9 W. 53rd St.; 212-333-1220; themodernnyc.com
Untitled at the Whitney
Untitled, another Danny Meyer spot, couldn’t be more different than The Modern. On the lower level of the Whitney, this all-day eatery serves upgraded diner food — excellent eggs and pancakes, numerous sandwiches and burgers. Closed Monday and Tuesday. 945 Madison Ave.; 212-570-3670; untitledatthewhitney.com
Caffè Storico at New-York Historical Society
Stephen Starr is best known in NYC for big-box Meatpacking restaurants like Morimoto and Buddakan, but his venture in the New-York Historical Society is more intimate, an Italian cafe-restaurant featuring small plates, fresh pastas, and an all-Italian wine list. 170 Central Park West; 212-873-3400; nyhistory.org/dine
Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie
This museum of German and Austrian art, fittingly enough, has a cafe featuring Viennese fare. Expect creamed spaetzle and beef goulash, but leave room to sample off the long menu of sweets — Sachertorte, apple strudel and quark cheesecake.1048 Fifth Ave.; 212-288-0665; neuegalerie.org/cafes/sabarsky