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db bistro moderne

I dined at db bistro moderne a couple of years ago, but my only memory is their $29 gimmick hamburger. A couple of Saturdays ago, I went back with my friend, determined to try anything but that hamburger.

The restaurant caters heavily to a pre-theatre crowd — and I must say that it’s a far higher-class dining experience than most Theater District restaurants can offer. The décor is stylish and comfortable: a “modern bistro” indeed. We arrived at 7:30 to a busy, bustling room. By 7:45, it was practically deserted. A few more diners came in later, but clearly their busiest hours were behind them.

No one seems to have told the serving staff that a couple who arrive at 7:30 probably aren’t going to the theater. The appetizers couldn’t have taken more than five minutes, and the entrees came out pretty fast too. In all, we didn’t spend more than about an hour at db, and that included the time we spent lingering over our bottle of wine at the end. Although the staff didn’t suggest that they were eager for us to leave, it seems the kitchen is geared up for turning out food in a hurry, and they don’t change their rhythm after the theater crowd has departed.

The food, however, was wonderful. I had a great tuna tartare followed by duck confit. My friend had duck pâté followed by coq au vin. All four dishes were prepared in classic style and were flawless. If there was nothing particularly imaginative, there is much to be said for executing old favorites to near perfection. The wine list mentioned that the sommelier was highlighting syrah and granache this month, so we tried one of the recommendations in that category, and were pleased we did.

The bread service was underwhelming, and not up to the level of the rest of the food.

db bistro moderne (55 W. 44th St. between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)

Food: **½
Service: **
Ambiance: **
Overall: **½

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