The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

DB Bistro Moderne

"Mm, this is delicious," Kathryn said enthusiastically after biting into her spearfish.

I plopped a small, delicate, cutely scrunched up duck raviole (it probably had a more descriptive name, but my receipt simply says RAVIOLE, thus I am actually giving you more information than I'm obligated to for not having taken notes) into my mouth. Commence chewing.

...Hm. Okay Robyn, come up with something to say, preferably descriptive, or at least more so than, "Tastes like raviole", not that you would even say that due to a lack of raviole eating experiences.

"...This tastes good."

NO NO, Robyn, you failed! Chuck Norris is gonna ninja-kick your face in for such a lame description. Say something better.

"...This...tastes good?"

You still failed.


db Bistro Moderne
db Bistro Moderne

Okay, that's as good as I can do. I was looking forward to eating lunch at DB Bistro Moderne for Restaurant Week because as as the first expensive dining experience I've had in NYC (anywhere comparable would have occured NJ before I had a blog), I could have fun eating the food and writing something worthwhile about it. It also means that I have almost nothing to compare it to, since as you've noticed, my diet consists mainly of persimmons (the ones that make it all the way through my digestive tract), cookies, sugar, and carbs.

wall of horror

We were a bit late for our 11:45 AM lunch reservation due to evil medical practitioners (no offense to the non-evil medical practitioners; yer ooookay!) but we were still seated in the dining room, by the extra coveted space in front of "scary giant pictures of scary giant red flowers that might be carnivorous and would go really well in Satan's botanical garden".

[A sidenote: If I wasn't sure before, I'm pretty sure now that I'm not comfortable talking to adults, specifically of the maitre d' variety, more specifically of the tall maitre d' variety. While I usually fail at speaking skills, they get worse when I'm nervous and turn me into some unintentionally rude person who speaks too fast and doens't let the other person finish his sentences, perhaps like a nervous puppy, if the puppy were...oh, human. Whether I will ever rectify this simple rule of etiquette is unknown, but I'm thinking they won't since I'll be stuck in child-mode for the next 20 years. It's just a part of my genes.]

Scary flowers! What was I talking about? Oh

bread basket
bread basket/canister?

We started off with the complimentary bread. Ain't that pretty? Unfortunately, we only got to try one piece each. Surprisingly, I didn't dig into the bread and slather it all with butter right away, deciding instead to leave my stomach open for the real food (not that bread isn't real food, but you probably shouldn't do what I sometimes do and eat it as a meal). But the bread! MY GOD, I LOVE BREAD YET I ONLY ATE ONE PIECE (one of the two center-slices)! And it was a really good piece! I wish I could say more about it than that, but I can't. The bread was good. Obviously. If they screwed up something so simple, I'd worry. Or blame it on the Satanic flowers.

bibb lettuce salad with smoked salmon
bibb lettuce salad

I started with this bibb lettuce salad while Kathryn ordered a yummy smelling squash soup. It was a nice shade of yellow (just imagine what a nice shade of yellow is in squash terms) and had "surprises" in (well, the garnishes on top that Kathryn stirred in). I'm sure it was more satisfying than my salad, not because my salad was bad but because it was a salad. How often do you see me feature salads in this blog? Yeeeeah. I don't hate salads, but they're not in my "top ten non-sweet foods I'd choose to eat if I could eat anything I wanted". It's probably not in my top 20. ...Well, maybe a seaweed salad would be.

So, the salad! I wouldn't want to eat a bucket of it, but it was very nice and I naturally ate it all. The easiest way for me to describe anything is to say "there was nothing wrong with it". All the ingredients--lettuce, smoked salmon, sliced heart of palm, baby asparagus (or really thin normal asparagus?), baby tomatoes, and dill--were flavorful and nothing was too overpowering or weak. The vinegarette dressing was very light but gave just enough flavor (you know, of vinegar and oil; I probably didn't need to describe that to you). I really liked the dill, even though there was maybe a total of three pieces in the whole salad. But that's why it's not a "dill" salad...wait, maybe I would like a dill salad! Do people make dill salads? Make me one.


Kathryn's spearfish (garnished with chickpeas and some kind of celery chutney, a little salad, and whatever that puddle-y sauce around it is) reminded me of tuna steak; it's a meaty fish. An unfishy fish. A fish that crosses the species barrier into POULTRY, perhaps. Anyhoo, I don't have much else to say besides that it was very tasty stuff and I wouldn't have minded eating it as my entree. Obviously, I forgot what the seasoning was exactly. "Tasty and inoffensive."

duck raviole
duck raviole

Ah HA, it's my indescribable duck raviole. The first impression I got before actually ingesting anything was of cheese. A pleasing, lightly cheesy scent wafted (oh man, don't you love that word?...okay, maybe not) into my face, which implies it went up my nose since that's a good place for smells to go. Unfortunately, I can't say much about the raviole (man, I just wanna call them "really cute dumplings") because I CANNOT INDENTIFY FLAVORS, making me wonder if I'm a nontaster, or if I'm just not familiar enough with flavors to be able to identify them. Well, whatever the flavors were (nothing easily recognizable I suppose, and nothing spicy or pungent), they well well together. The mashed duck filling (I like the word "mashed", alright?) nor the pasta skin was heavy. Once again, "there was nothing wrong with it". I guess that also means that nothing wowed me out of my pants (...I don't have an aside for this one) but the amount in the dish, the size of each REALLY CUTE DUMPLING (harhar, I said it!), and the consistency and density (I feel like there's a better word for that) of the filling all agree with me. Again, I cleaned my plate.

And what comes next? Only the BEST PART OF THE MEAL EVERRR!

chocolate mousse tart thing with cherries and vanilla ice cream or something
chocolate mousse with...well, you can see

Kathryn and I got the same dessert, whose official name I don't know (the receipt descriptively labels it "Cherry"), but it's basically chocolate mousse in a chocolate crust with fresh cherry halves (not preserved or uber-sweet, thankfully) in some kind of cherry sauce accompanied by vanilla ice cream something-or-other.


I feel awful for not knowing the "real" name of this frozen accompaniment, but it seemed to be listed as an afterhought on the menu. You know the subdued italic line of text below the ALL IN CAPS title that a dish has? You're like, "Oh, it comes with the thing in italics; that's nice." It's like a bonus, but the bonus isn't supposed to overpower the main thing. Is it? IS IT? Well. This little, lovingly shaped frozen vanilla blop was easily the best part of the whole meal. I think my exact words were:

"Oh my god, I love it." [blah blah blah, repeat 10x] It truly excited me.

We were perplexed because we didn't really know what it was made of. It wasn't ice cream, but not gelato. It didn't seem like sorbet either. But certainly it of those? It reminded me of something made of nut milk but I'm pretty sure it wasn't. Our spoons cut through without any effort. I wanted to savor it, but frozen things have that problem of melting, which changes it from "delicious blop" into "inedible puddle that I would lick up if that weren't so unsightly". The blop rested on a bed of what Kathryn called "chocolate soil" (or [something] soil) which we thought tasted like an Oreo, but surely wasn't. If not for the vanilla blop, the dessert probably wouldn't been more disappointing than the other dishes, but instead it was SO AWESOME.

Overall impression: definitely worth $30 to have a three-course lunch with a good friend. The food was really fast and service was...efficient, maybe a little too much. Not that I planned on lingering, but since we were late we certainly wouldn't sit around and nibble our food for hours, but I was kinda surprised when one waiter (I'm not sure how many people served us; it probably wasn't that many, but I wasn't paying attention) moved my plate away seemed random. It was a subtle way of shouting, "MAKE WAY FOR THE NEXT PLATE!" Anyhoo. Food was good, but I'd be happy just eating dessert and bread.

On a random note, I went to the Green Bakery and could've sworn I bought four cookies (three for a friend, one for me), but looked in my bag (long after I had left the bakery; hey, I stuffed it in my backpack and I was in a rush) and saw three. Hm. My first thought was, "NO WAY, I definitely paid for four!" but not I'm not sure because god knows my memory isn't exactly set in stone (more like an Etch-A-Sketch). However, after thinking about it for WAY TOO LONG, I really think I paid for four. Which is odd. Maybe the clerk was out of it. I'm going back tomorrow morning to see if I can REGAIN MY LOST $2 and shall let you know the demise of my oatmeal cookie that I longed for with all my tastebuds.

On a last note, my appetite is still in it's waned state. Despite what I just said about the cookie I "lost", cookies aren't that tempting when you're not hungry. But I'll still go back for it.

EDIT (1/25/06): I just remembered something that bothered me about the restaurant; the reception desk was in the middle of the room. Kinda. There's a pathway through the front dining room that leads to a raised reception and bar area and goes further to another dining room. Is this pretty common or am I right in thinking it's somewhat awkward? In order to get seated you first walk past tables of diners. During our lunch, there was a long line of people right by us waiting to get in (well, they were inside know what I mean). I'm wondering why they'd plan the orientation that way; so far I've figured that at least with the desk far from the door, people will wait inside and not huddle around the entrance, but isn't it still an odd orientation? give me other reasons.

I thought more about the lack of bread eating and remembered that when I eat bread at a restaurant (which is rare since most restaurants I go to don't serve bread) it's because I'm waiting for my actual food. How to spend the time? EAT! However, the food was quick (not too quick as though the plates were being shot at us, but I was surprised by how fast it was) so I didn't give much thought to eating the bread. Also, I wasn't that hungry...but it's bread!

Another thing: I got my cookie! I probably shouldn't have felt so weird/embarrased about it, but...I did. I mean. IT'S ONE FREAKIN' COOKIE. The guy working at the bakery this morning (same guy I saw yesterday) was nice had no problem giving me another one after I told my "I though I bought four cookies" story, which probably made me look insane/stupid/cookie monster-esque. Sadly, I found that the oatmeal cookie isn't nearly as good as the chocolate chip cookie one, but it's hard for anything to be as tasty as that. I EXPECTED PERFECTION! *sobs* Oh well, more on that later.


Allen Wong / January 25, 2006 12:17 AM

Oh no, I totally forgot restaurant week. Blahh.

The food looks good. The problem with going to high(er) scale restaurants for me is the price not justifying the taste. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that that 3-course meal would have left me with a longing for something a bit more intensely flavored. Then again, I've never eaten for more than $15~20. I'd bet that duck ravioli was great, though.

I'll second your "dessert and bread." :)

sean / January 25, 2006 1:17 AM

::gggwwwaaahhh:: (my new favorite over used internet expression) funny thing that you should post about Restaurant Week in New York because this whole month long San Francisco is conducting something similiar. It's called SF Dine About Town (swanky title eh?) ( This Friday my friend Jesse and I are heading into the city to try out Citizen Cake (, they're the ones who own Citizen Cupcake. I can't wait! Let's hope they're as good as they sound, I can't wait for dessert! hehe, oh golly!

serena / January 25, 2006 5:15 AM

great to have you fooding again & (hopefully) recovered from evil stomach bugs?

i think part of the appeal of street food (& bakeries) is that it doesn't matter who you are & how much you paid for it - the yummiest street food can rival the best restaurant. it's utterly democratic eating. of course, being southeast asian (where street food totally reigns) i'm biased, but there you go.

your dessert does look great, i have to say!

santos. / January 25, 2006 10:39 AM

maybe vanilla blop is a frozen bavarois? it's like, milk, cream, and sugar set with a bit of gelatin. although, i'm not sure bavarois are supposed to melt.

Wei / January 25, 2006 11:25 AM

Did you guys have to dress up for that place? I hate walking into any type of establishment wearing what i'd term "comfortable clothing" and be stared at because its "lower class" than what their average patron is wearing. >_Did you guys have to dress up for that place? I hate walking into any type of establishment wearing what i'd term "comfortable clothing" and be stared at because its "lower class" than what their average patron is wearing. >_

The food looks good and the plateing is I think what people pay for. I've ate at higher end restaurants and I'm not extremely wow'ed by the food. I'd rather have portions? At least they didn't give you 2 peas and a tiny bit of ketchup and call that the meal. XD

Lai-Yee / January 25, 2006 4:22 PM

Aww, if only it were going on this weekend! Oh well, making the trip to NYC (I'm in Albany) is soooo worth if for chinese new year with the grandparent. *drools thinking of all the tasty foods to be consumed*

roboppy / January 25, 2006 7:44 PM

Allen: BAH! Well. This is my first time actually taking advantage of RW. There will be mooore!

As for the price justifying the taste, I have that feeling too, but I'm used to eating inexpensive food. Hehehe. With an expensive meal, I'm looking for...above average taste, ingredient quality, plating, and overall environment (friendly service would be nice too, haha). I don't usually like to pay more than $20 for a meal (the idea of every spending $100 on a meal boggles my mind) but I have taken restaurant related classes and costs so much to run a restaurant. I'd never do it, that's for sure.

I'd always prefer simple inexpensive food (I guess everyone would say the same thing, but some people eat expensive food a lot, which I can't imagine doing even if I were rich) but I'm interested in seeing how "worth it" pricier food is. With cheap food, if it's not that great then at least you didn't spend much on it, but with expensive food I'd just be like, "GOD DAMMIT I wasted a gazillion dollars."


Sean: HAHAHA...good reaction. Man, cupcakes sound awesome. Tell me how that goes!

Serena: Yup, I've recovered! Kinda. My appetite is way down; it's almost perplexing.

I agree that bakeries and street food = the awesome. I wish street food here were as cool as in Asia. When I lived in Taiwan there was this truck on the corner that made these really cool sammiches and some crepe-ish meat filled things that I REALLY WISH I had a better description of but...god, whatever they were, they were great. It wasn't really an Asian thing but I don't know what category it would fall into. There was also the dude who made uber-oily scallion pancakes that were sinfully good.

santos: Oo, I've never heard of that before but I don't think there was any gelatin in the dessert. Where do I get this frozen bavarois? MRAAH!!!

Wei: We didn't have to dress up, although I made it a point to leave my backpack in my locker. Then again, I had to carry my camera around with me so that was still a big of baggage. I totally agree with you on the dressing up thing though; I avoided any restaurant that was listed on opentable as having a formal dress code. First off, that would require me to buy a new wardrobe (the last time I wore dress shoes was for prom). Second, I don't want to eat while wearing clothes that make me feel uncomfortable (not that you can't wear nice, comfortable clothes...but anyhoo).

As for dress codes, last semester in my Food and Society class, we had a small discussion about that. Some of my classmates said that they'll get treated differently depending on how nicely they're dressed up. Hearing things like that make me wanna just stick to my cheap eats. I don't want to go anywhere for a scene...gimme good food!

Yup, you definitely pay for the plating. :) However, I don't want huge portions. I want ENOUGH food, but I really like it when I eat good food that doesn't make my stomach explode, hehe! My stomach might not be that big though. I mean, I get the same portion as the 40-something year old dude on the other side of the room. Hm.

Lai-Yee: Aw, you have a tasty CNY to look forward to? I wouldn't mind having some fun family tradition, but I don't really like spending time with my extended family. :P Grandparents aren't known for food, that's for sure!

Liz / January 26, 2006 3:04 PM

Ooh, restaurant week! I missed it down here! Argh. Next year I'll do it in NYC, definitely. DB Bistro Moderne looked fantastic Satan's botanical garden-

Way to branch out from sweets. Also I really don't think you're a nontaster, I think you probably just have a giant sweet tooth and it chokes out the savory teeth. Or maybe you just don't write like a supertaster- you're less pretentious and funnier :D

roboppy / January 27, 2006 8:08 AM

Liz: GIANT SWEET TOOTH! Yes. It chokes all. My favorite savory foods are Japanese, hehe. I can't explain it. Dooh. HOORAY FOR UNPRETENSIONNNNessnuhnuh.

Tokyo / January 28, 2006 5:01 PM

I've been a little dissapointed with some of the restaurant week places. I think my new plan is to only go to places that are serving a subset of their normal daily menu. I think my dissapointments have been with places that concoct some lesser version for their lesser seasonal restaurant week customers.

Also, your blog is awesome.

roboppy / January 29, 2006 7:26 PM

Tokyo: Thanks for reading! I guess I can't be too disappointed since I don't have much experience with RW restaurants, but I wouldn't be surprised if RW customers were given "lesser" food. :\ Not that I'd like it either., not like I'm going to go back to DB Bistro Moderne. It was good, just not good enough.

...okay, I would like more of that ice cream.

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