No museum visit is complete without a little snack. But just what kind of fare awaits the hungry art lover? Our friends at Art Club 2000 volunteered to explore just this very question. As it turns out, both the difficulties and rewards of art can be found in museum cafes as well. For instance, the cafe can be closed, or absent altogether -- a discouraging prospect. On the other hand, the food can be much like art itself -- to use some of the terms that appear below, it can be "nourishing, " "totally oily, " "comfortable" or "proto-military." Without further ado, ArtNet presents here the Art Club 2000 report of the state of the cafeterias attached (in one way or another) to 10 leading New York art spots. -- The Editors
The Brooklyn Museum
by Pieter Schoolwerth and Anne Kugler Food -- Anne: tuna salad sandwich, $5.45 "It was supposed to be on a croissant, but they didn't have any so they made it on a sourdough baguette instead. Actually the bread was the best part anyway. The tuna salad was very average, you could get it at any deli. I couldn't finish it though, if you were really hungry you might want the whole thing but it's just a little much."
Pieter: salad bar salad, $3.99/lb. "It's an imitation king crab salad, I made it myself with beans and lettuce, Italian dressing, corn, olives and gummi bears. It's very fresh tasting, and there were lots of options at the salad bar, like roasted zucchini, vegetables, potatoes." Service -- "I'd say the service was great because I was able to steal my salad. I would definitely come back." Atmosphere -- "It's not like MOMA, it's not too crowded. I could study here. There's only like six people in here and mostly employees. It's actually less depressing in the cafe than the rest of the museum."
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum
by David Karlin and Chris Sperandio
Food -- Two coffees and an assortment of six cakes and bean buns, $3.40. The Tenement Museum has no cafe, so we got coffee and pastries from Chinatown's Wing Wah Bakery, on the corner here.
Dave: "Dirt cheap...and great. My two favorite food groups: starch and grease."
Chris: "Love it. I used to eat this stuff when I was driving a truck. Cold coffee, too sweet -- Chinese style. My favorite was the peanut log sponge." Atmosphere -- Dave: "Oh yeah. Brown-baggin' it. This way you don't have to pay to get into the museum to eat, you just eat out on the sidewalk. It's clean, not too crowded."
Chris: "Great. New York at its best. When in the Lower East Side stop in at Wing Wah."
The Metropolitan Museum
by Liz & Val
Food -- Val: soft pretzel, $1.25, 16 oz. Coke, $1.75 "It's an excellent combination, the pretzel is fresh, with a fluffy, light texture. I'd recommend it to diet-conscious people. I'd recommend them to everyone, especially with Coke, it just goes great. Coca-Cola tastes better than Pepsi."
Liz: Breyer's almond ice cream bar, $2.00. "Pretzels are too heavy on your stomach, that's why I got an ice cream bar. I guess Val is into a more raw experience." Atmosphere -- "Fantastic, with all the people, it feels very cosmopolitan." "It's a people place." "I love sitting on steps. It's so nice out." Service -- "There was a line at the hot dog cart, but we didn't have to wait very long."
The Jewish Museum
by Tomoko Takeue and Hiroshi Sunari
The Jewish Museum has a cafe, but they were closed for Passover, so we tried to go to the Japan Society, but there is no cafeteria there. So we decided to get a sandwich from Blimpie on 2nd Ave. and 45th Street. Initially we were going to eat the sandwich in the Japanese garden in the Japan Society, but you aren't allowed to photograph in there. So we walked towards the East River on 46th Street, all the way to the end and we found a nice spot halfway up a closed ramp onto FDR Drive. You can see the bridge on 59th Street and a tall Citibank building on the other side of the river. It was like a picnic. Food -- Beefsteak and cheese sandwich with onion lettuce and tomato; Lemonade, Coca-Cola, and chips, $4.64 each. "It could be cheaper, considering the quality."
"I enjoyed a taste of beef, but after I finished half of it I was only enjoying the hot pepper."
"The lemonade tasted like it didn't have enough powder in it. And Blimpie should improve their bread, it's too soft."
"Maybe Italian Bread or French would be better. This sandwich has a lot of vegetables, the hot pepper makes you sweat; you get a burning sensation." Atmosphere -- "It's fun, much better than a museum cafeteria."
"It's a little cold, but spacious, and there's no other people, just pigeons."
"Trash, broken glass, some dog shit. It's okay to smoke, even marijuana is okay."
The Museum of Modern Art
by Andrea Fraser and Olivier Mosset
Food -- Andrea: 2 pieces of cheese pizza, $3.50, collard greens soup, $3.75, San Pelligrino water, $2.50, tea. "The pizza was totally oily, it's like soaked! The soup is pretty good but not really hot enough. The soup woman didn't know what the soups were. The tea selection is pretty good, I stole this one, it's Twining "Prince of Wales" tea."
Olivier: Croissant, $1.75, coffee, $1.00. "The croissant was well wrapped, and crispy. I'm not an expert on food, I eat what they give me. The second cup of coffee is free, but I got three cups. Theoretically, you could have endless coffee, if you sent different people." Atmosphere -- "These are cool chairs but they aren't very comfortable." "I'm surprised, these stools are actually more comfortable than the chairs." "I have to admit, I love the stools." "The lamps are classic." "I'm going to do that in my home. What I really like though, is straw hats as lampshades." "It's very clean. When they had the Warhol show here the cafeteria was the best part, they put up cow wallpaper." Service -- "Self-service, perfect, except I spilled the coffee." "There appears to be some management-labor conflict in the cafe. If employees have a problem with customers that's usually the case."
Dean & Deluca in the Guggenheim Museum
by Alex Bag and Tom Borgese
Food -- Tom: Chicken and string-bean salad, $4.95. Valencia orange cake, $3.25. Tea, $.90. "The salad was redolent of Cilantro and other fresh herbs, and garlicky too, almost like a pesto. The string-beans are really crisp. The orange cake is dry as a bone and again too small. I could've eaten three times as much. It's moister on the outside where the glaze dripped into the cake. A piece of chicken got stuck in my tooth and then later when I was eating my orange cake it fell out and got mixed in and it tasted weird. Overall, the portions are smaller than the Dean and Deluca downtown. Even the cake, it's a smaller slice."
Alex: Rigatoni with broccoli rabe and escarole, $3.95. Cappuccino, $2.25. Pumpkin bar, $3.19. "This is good, actually. I got a lot more rabe than pasta. I would've preferred more in general. The pumpkin bar was the only thing that was big enough. I'm still hungry. Can you smoke pot in here?" Atmosphere -- "Good Acoustics. Other people's conversations aren't grating on my nerves." "It's like a ship in here
portholes. They're playing cool jazz, Mr. Saturday Night. Dean and Deluded."
The Guggenheim Museum SoHo
by Jackie McAllister and Anastasie Croy
Food -- One soda, two pots of tea and an assortment of sandwiches and sweets: $60.00 (including tip). There is no cafe at the Guggenheim SoHo, so we had afternoon tea in the basement of their building on the corner of Mercer and Prince Streets, at a place called T Salon (since closed).
"The tea is very good, we got a Darjeeling." "Which is an Indian Tea, as opposed to Chinese." "I was talking to Angela Cumberbirch, who I believe grew up in Sri Lanka, about how to judge a pot of tea. One thing is that the pot itself should be hot. Here, the handle is even hot, that's good." "The china is coarse, especially considering how good the tea is." "There is lots of tea paraphernalia, it's like a head shop for tea." "It's not an inexpensive cafe." "Where are the cucumber sandwiches? They have some unusual combinations, a green tea chicken sandwich with peanut butter dressing." "Peanut butter is fine for Americans, I'm sure, but not in a tea house, thank you." "(Reading from menu)...Red radish and cucumber with goat cheese on black olive bread? Totally incorrect. Smoked salmon triple decker with scallion and black pepper cream cheese, blueberry pecan whole wheat scone, Earl Grey chocolate cake, that was kind of gooey; apple tart, seasonal fruits dipped in chocolate, missing, the fruit wasn't there." Service -- "The service was very good, quite attentive."
"Very accommodating." Atmosphere -- "It's comfortable."
"Sort of toney."
The Liberty Science Center
by Paul Myoda and Julian LaVerdiere
Food -- Dorritos, $1.00, French fries, $1.49, Poland Spring water, $1.00. "It's like a greasy plastic spoon." Atmosphere -- "Inside, numerous regimes of grade schoolers strangely suggestive of a proto-military-industrial workforce. The parking lot has more elbow room and less noise." Service -- "Orderly and efficient self-service. Line chefs, cashiers."
The Madison Avenue Cafe (next to the Whitney Museum)
by Roberta Smith and Jerry Saltz
Food -- Jerry: turkey on whole wheat toast with tomato and Russian dressing on the side, $6.75. "I should do a book, 'Turkey Sandwiches Around the World.' This restaurant is perfect for whatever diet you're on: high protein, high carbohydrate, and especially high fat."
Roberta: Caesar salad with grilled chicken breast, $8.45. "I order the same thing when I eat lunch in SoHo. Jerry was a vegetarian when we met." Atmosphere -- "Sarabeth's (the restaurant at the Whitney) is too leisurely for our pace on a gallery day, and a little pricey. When we eat someplace nice, that is, expensive, It's not in a museum. It's clean here. This is our uptown restaurant. Between here and SoHo, it's problematic. It's here, or Jerry's on Prince Street."
"This a good coffee shop, it's like Greek diner, but more. They just renovated. Before they redid it, they had signed pictures of Marlo Thomas, and Roy Schneider, and wood paneling, which we miss. Now it's less authentic, but more efficient. They moved the kitchen, there's more dining space, more light. Tasteful Pictures of Central Park." Service -- "The service is always good, obviously because they want in and out but they don't try to get rid of you, even if people are waiting. They're open to special requests, even though we tend to get the same thing every time."
Dinersaurus in the Museum of Natural History
by Helen Molesworth and Mark Dion
Food -- Mark: Dino-chicken nuggets, $3.80, coffee, $.95, Dino gummi bears, $1.50. "The chicken nuggets- I recognized some shapes, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, Duck-billed dinosaur, this one looks like a bear, could be a Triceratops. The Terodactyl and the crocodile, technically, these aren't dinosaurs. Oh, here's a hair. The coffee, it's okay, it's not bad. They must be the only people in the world making dino-shaped food."
Helen: Dino fries, $3.25, large Coca-Cola $2.15. "The Dino-fries are like dinosaur shaped Latkes, they have a little onion in them. They're getting greasier sitting here. I like it better at the whale's lair, they have a more seafood oriented menu, sandwiches, clam chowder, plus the whale bar has liquor. This place, they only serve Budweiser." Atmosphere -- "It would be hard to imagine worse."
"I've been to some Roy Roger's on the highway."
"It's totally environmentally designed to make you not want to stay long, the seats are uncomfortable, also the screaming child factor. It's kind of shabby and run down. The neon makes it hard to tell what color the food is and I'd have to subtract points for the dirty ceiling." Service -- "I guess you could compare it to getting money at the ATM. We had to wait for our chicken things. They weren't rude though. It's the only place open, the Whale's Lair, the Garden Cafe are both closed this late."
ART CLUB 2000 exhibits at American Fine Arts in New York.