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#31
Posted May 25th 2012, 11:11am
David Hammond wrote:I wonder what the "we miss Rosebud" crowd actually misses? What is "really Italian food" by their interpretation? Large steaks, steaming bowls of pasta, what?


Perhaps this (from Rosebud)?

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#32
Posted May 25th 2012, 11:15am
David Hammond wrote:I wonder what the "we miss Rosebud" crowd actually misses? What is "really Italian food" by their interpretation? Large steaks, steaming bowls of pasta, what?

Side salads. 8)
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#33
Posted May 25th 2012, 11:20am
jesteinf wrote:
David Hammond wrote:I wonder what the "we miss Rosebud" crowd actually misses? What is "really Italian food" by their interpretation? Large steaks, steaming bowls of pasta, what?


Perhaps this (from Rosebud)?

Image


I have to wonder what was going through your mind when you shot this. I'm guessing not "This looks fantastic! I want to remember it forever!"
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#34
Posted May 25th 2012, 11:22am
It was more in the spirit of "Never Forget".
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#35
Posted May 25th 2012, 11:35am
David Hammond wrote:Observations about local push-back notwithstanding, there did seem to be a lot of locals there the night we were there: couples, girls night out crowd, families with a few kids in tow, big range.

I wonder what the "we miss Rosebud" crowd actually misses? What is "really Italian food" by their interpretation? Large steaks, steaming bowls of pasta, what?

I don't think it's mostly about what is or isn't perceived to be Italian, though, that is clearly part of it. I think it's more about not being able to get large portions of known dishes (not too challenging) served in a straightforward manner. As you know, Moderno doesn't necessarily dance to that tune. I'm also guessing that Moderno's fare doesn't appear to be as healthful as Rosebud's was, even though I think that's a matter of perception. Still, for a significant segment of the local crowd, that's a big factor.

I'm glad to hear about the diverse crowd there. As I posted upthread, Highland Park is a big community and I'm guessing that Moderno will find its regular diners eventually, even if they're not the same folks who were fans of Rosebud.

=R=
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#36
Posted May 25th 2012, 1:25pm
Stopped into Moderno for a quick bite last night after meeting some friends at Michael's. Walked in at about 8:30 and had no problem sitting at the bar. Ordered a Cocchi Soda (at the recommendation of the bartender) and the Sardines. The soda was nice and refreshing and a good drink for the weather. The sardines were tasty and I really liked the preserved lemon it was paired with. Although I wasn't in love with the fennel on top. The pizza puff things that came with the food were pretty tasty, too. Quite excited to return for a full meal.
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#37
Posted August 9th 2012, 10:50am
John des Rosiers and Phil Rubino will be doing a dinner at the James Beard Foundation in New York on Friday, October 5, 2012. It'll be a combination of Inovasi and Moderno. It looks like a great dinner. Jan and I have already signed up. You can find the information here.
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#38
Posted August 11th 2012, 11:07pm
Went to Moderno last night with my daughter (18), my oldest friend and HER daughter (16) who wants to be a chef. I thought a chef-driven place would be educational and inspirational for her. I was sorely disappointed with her attitude but LOVED everything I tasted.

Not adventurous diners, but we had an assortment of appetizers including the crispy potatoes which we all loved, and the arancini which I loved. The marscarpone with herbs that accompanied it was delicious, and since our friends had eaten all the cheesy bread puff thingies before we arrived, we had to ask for more so I could dip them! We also had the ham with figs and arugula, that was really good too though I would have liked a bit more of the dressing/sauce, whatever it was that topped the greens. Chef-girl refused to try a fig.

We had pastas and a pizza as well. I had the garganelli because I was dying to taste the anchovy/garlic puglia tomatoes. The pasta was very tasty and toothsome but I would've liked a bit more anchovy flavor to the saucing. There was a strong red pepper kick that I wasn't anticipating. Would have liked to know it was coming, but overall I thought the dish was successful. The four cheese pizza was great, each individual cheese could be identified and the crust was crispy thin perfection. Our friends shared the gnocchi and didn't care for it at all. I was able to snag their uneaten roasted tomatoes from that dish and they were great...really flavorful.

I had a tuscan tea which was interesting but not amazing. My friend had a glass of wine. I think our bill was $130 all in. Portions were not large but I was satisfied. The room is beautiful, really REALLY different than what I recall from Rosebud days. I would return in a heartbeat and am already thinking of excuses for being in HP around lunchtime soon. I'm pretty sure my friends would not return. I sure hope it succeeds, I can't wait to go back. Wouldn't object to it being a little less expensive.
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#39
Posted September 13th 2012, 12:17pm
Moderno has begun its carry out operation. Originally billed to have somewhat of a different menu, it appears to be the same as the dinner menu in the restaurant. The portions are supposedly different though. They are offering a 20% discount (doesn't say for how long) to inaugurate the carry out service. I will be placing my first order on Saturday for daddy daughter night with the not-quite 3-year-old :-)
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#40
Posted December 18th 2012, 10:02pm
Moderno's last service will be Saturday, December 22.

The restaurant will close for three weeks and reopen as a new concept from the same culinary team and staff. I'll wait for them to announce the new restaurant, but it will fit the space and location better.

I hate having to write an obituary for friends. We loved Moderno, especially the creativity of some of the pizzas and the care that went into the dishes. But as I said at its opening, the thing that had to happen for Moderno to be successful in Highland Park was for Ronnie's stepfather to take it at face value - which was never gonna happen. I knew within weeks that it was going to struggle, when I heard servers offering "we can adjust the ingredients if you don't like something." There was a core group of suburban foodies like you and me who liked the place, but the average Highland Park diner just couldn't get past the unusual. As Chef Desrosiers said to me, not only did they have to translate the names of the pasta shapes ("Farfalle - bowtie"), diners would actually display negative emotions of frustration and anger at the fact that they weren't familiar with "strangozzi." And in that big of a space, they couldn't afford to run the restaurant for the core group of us who loved it. On a recent Saturday night they had 350 covers, but weeknights were sparse.

The new concept sounds cool and I admire John for making a quick decision not to throw good money after bad. They are doing interior redecoration so it won't just be the same space with a different menu.

The suburbs won; we lost. At least Inovasi/Lake Bluff is only 15 minutes away :-)
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#41
Posted December 18th 2012, 10:13pm
Jeez, this really blows. Highland Park just lost a gem of a restaurant. I have no doubt that whatever John decides to do with that space will be equally great. However, it really sucks that a place of Moderno's quality can't succeed because too many people equate Italian food with getting served a pound of pasta as a serving.
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#42
Posted December 19th 2012, 1:20am
Hi,

I am not sure insulting locals is a winning strategy on behalf of Moderno. As I recall, John didn't want to serve salads and other dishes clients might have expected. I remember some people thinking this was not a great idea.

BTW - if the waiter was explaining to customers that farfalle means bowtie, then the waiter needs educating. Farfalle is Italian for butterflies, which is pretty much what this pasta shape looks like.

Within two blocks or less, there have been closings of four restaurant establishments in the last six weeks. Clearly restaurants are stressed in this immediate area and it cannot all be blamed on local tastes. Perhaps Moderno's original concept might have worked better in another time and timing sometimes is everything.

I respect his willingness to reconsider his strategy, because we certainly want him to succeed.

Regards,
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"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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#43
Posted December 19th 2012, 7:24am
Excellent points Cathy.

Mrs. P and I have been fans of John since his Bank Lane Bistro days and will continue to follow him at Inovasi. I will say, however, that since BLB I have been less than thrilled with the service at his places. In general, I find it to be a scoosch too casual with plates arriving on top of each other, servers having to be reminded of orders or even having to request basic things like silverware. In my two stops at Moderno, which admittedly were early on, I found these problems particularly frustrating, and ultimately was never that excited about returning as the food wasn't sufficiently great as to overcome these issues.

While I'm all for piling on the pedestrian tastes of the local hoi polloi, and certainly Moderno was a vast improvement over the vile offerings belched out by the Rosebud kitchen, it also remains true, in my view, that Moderno was not up to John's standards. I do look forward to the new concept and hope that a keener attention to the diner experience will accompany it
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#44
Posted December 19th 2012, 8:14am
"Farfalle - bow tie pasta" was an example I made up, it's not even on the current menu: http://modernohp.com/wp-content/uploads ... r-Web8.pdf
But strangozzi is.

I don't think John ever set out to insult anyone. I think he had hoped he could broaden and educate. It's not like they were complex dishes - most things on the menu had only five primary ingredients. It was an attempt to break out of the family style red sauce genre, and unfortunately, there isn't enough of an audience for that. I probably contributed to any sense that the restaurant was too unusual for those who like things the way the diner wants them. It's interesting, e.g., that there was never a tasting menu on offer at Moderno, whereas its a mainstay of Inovasi and usually our best experiences there.

Regarding the other closings in HP ... M was always going to fail, Stash's/2nd Street looks like something shady might have been going on, Corner Bakery was a corporate rent issue. It is a confluence of timing and bad factors, but I think the primary one is that the size of the Rosebud/Moderno space is just too big for anything other than mass appeal.
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#45
Posted December 19th 2012, 10:39am
edb60035 wrote:I don't think John ever set out to insult anyone.

I didn't interpret Cathy's remark to mean that John was insulting anyone. I interpreted it to mean that certain posts here ascribing the failure of the restaurant to the benighted tastes of Highland Parkers could be taken as insulting.
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#46
Posted December 19th 2012, 10:44am
Well, I for one am going to get while the gettin' is still good -- I'll be there tonight at 7.
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#47
Posted December 19th 2012, 10:52am
riddlemay wrote:
edb60035 wrote:I don't think John ever set out to insult anyone.

I didn't interpret Cathy's remark to mean that John was insulting anyone. I interpreted it to mean that certain posts here ascribing the failure of the restaurant to the benighted tastes of Highland Parkers could be taken as insulting.

Correct.
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"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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#48
Posted December 19th 2012, 11:46am
I wasn't trying to insult anyone with "There was a core group of suburban foodies like you and me who liked the place, but the average Highland Park diner just couldn't get past the unusual" or "diners would actually display negative emotions of frustration and anger at the fact that they weren't familiar with "strangozzi"" and if I did, I apologize.

These are statements of fact, as proven by Ronnie's much earlier story about his stepfather and countless conversations I had in the last few months with neighbors trying to find out why the restaurant wasn't succeeding. The stories about diners getting angry about the menu are from the staff, but I heard it from three different people more than once.

I feel like I'm in a hole and should stop digging, but I didn't see how that could be insulting. It is all a reflection of the environment of the restaurant. And I personally admire John and team for not trying to follow the "Hi Ricky's Deerfield" route of changing the menu dramatically to account for suburban interests.
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#49
Posted December 19th 2012, 12:44pm
Hi,

A restaurant needs to please 80% of the people who walk in the door. The LTHforum audience often reflects the other 20% and maybe something considerably smaller.

There was a core group of suburban foodies like you and me who liked the place, but the average Highland Park diner just couldn't get past the unusual. As Chef Desrosiers said to me, not only did they have to translate the names of the pasta shapes ("Farfalle - bowtie"), diners would actually display negative emotions of frustration and anger at the fact that they weren't familiar with "strangozzi."


There is always someone who is unhappy, though I doubt the majority who walked in would be intimidated. It is human nature to remember the worst. I don't doubt it happened at least once, it is a great war story, though portraying it as a typical customer behavior I don't accept.

Frankly, I would have needed an explanation of strangozzi, too. Google translator didn't offer a hint. Food and Wine magazine did: "Strangozzi is Spoleto’s traditional long and irregularly hand-cut pasta. Strangozi means “strangled priests,” and the pasta clearly dates from the region’s rebellion against papal domination in the 14th century. Spoletina sauce is a peppery tomato sauce made from southern Italian peppers and parsley." I would hope any waiter would be pleased to fulfill my curiosity.

Moderno is reconcepting to something else, we will see if that works. They need all the good will they can muster to get people to try it again.

**I am sure Stash's blamed their original location for their business issues. However, RUB has done very, very well in their old space. When Stashes abruptly closed and behaved a bit crooked when they expired. I am sure they blamed their Highland Park clients, though failing to recognize their role. It is human nature.
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"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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#50
Posted December 19th 2012, 5:07pm
With all due respect to my fellow HP'ers, it speaks volumes that Moderno closed so quickly, but other Italian restaurants in it's immediate vicinity still do very well (at least it appears that way). Kinda sad if you ask me. Maybe I'm a little upset, as I liked Moderno a lot. Yes, it was a bit pricey, but I don't think there was an equal in downtown HP as far as quality of ingredients and preparation goes. My 2c, which clearly aren't worth very much. :oops:
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#51
Posted December 19th 2012, 10:18pm
So I had my first and sadly last meal at Moderno. Butternut squash soup was a nice start. An apple and spinach salad with Brien butter vinaigrette followed (terrific, but a notch behind the Waldorf-inspired salad at Vie).

We had the Moderno pancetta pizza next, which had the flavors of a Egg McMuffin: bacon, fried egg, crisp crust with cornmeal, plus sage... If only McD used such high-grade ingredients and care of preparation.

Last we had the cavatelli with lamb and farmer's cheese, also delicious. It had all the flavors of turkish Lamb Manti in a non-dumpling format.

Perhaps they could have survived if the prices were a couple bucks lower? The pizza was actually a pretty good value, but I felt like the cavatelli was a little skimpy of a portion for $16.

Anyway, we won't miss then for long: Royce opens with the same staff on Jan 8, more details in the OCCG thread.

(stupid autocorrect - fixed "coyote" to "couple"... and I don't mean I think the prices need to be lower, only that the general public may have been expecting a lower price point)
Last edited by JoelF on December 20th 2012, 5:47pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#52
Posted December 20th 2012, 5:00pm
Cathy2 wrote:...Moderno is reconcepting to something else, we will see if that works. They need all the good will they can muster to get people to try it again....


Why will "they need all the good will they can muster to get people to try it again"?
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#53
Posted December 20th 2012, 7:19pm
From today's Eater article about Royce (the replacement for Moderno)

"We're trying to do concepts that are more elaborate than what there is on the North Shore," Des Rosiers said. "People didn't like looking at menus that had words they didn't understand on it."
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#54
Posted December 20th 2012, 7:20pm
This article in Eater has more about the reasons for the reconcepting:

Moderno Reconcepting, Becoming Royce Next Month
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#55
Posted December 20th 2012, 8:15pm
jesteinf wrote:From today's Eater article about Royce (the replacement for Moderno)

"We're trying to do concepts that are more elaborate than what there is on the North Shore," Des Rosiers said. "People didn't like looking at menus that had words they didn't understand on it."

I don't want to stray to far off-topic here, but this just drives me nuts about friends of mine, and I have several that fit into this category. They get so bent out of shape when they read a menu and don't know food terms, types of food, etc. and they accuse the restaurants of being pretentious and refuse to dine there. Is it so embarrassing to not know what a menu term means? I have friends that refused to return to the Bristol for this reason, even though they enjoyed what they tasted. Anyway, sorry to stray off topic but I'll say from my own experiences that I see where Moderno is coming from.
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#56
Posted December 20th 2012, 9:26pm
Interesting that all of the blame is focused on the customers. We've eaten hundreds of meals in Italy and certainly weren't intimidated by the menu. We just felt the food was mediocre and the service lousy. In contrast, our meals at Inovasi have been enjoyable. I think there's a real disconnect between what Moderno actually was and what the owner thought it was.
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#57
Posted December 20th 2012, 9:46pm
Marija wrote:Interesting that all of the blame is focused on the customers. We've eaten hundreds of meals in Italy and certainly weren't intimidated by the menu. We just felt the food was mediocre and the service lousy. In contrast, our meals at Inovasi have been enjoyable. I think there's a real disconnect between what Moderno actually was and what the owner thought it was.

You seem to imply that everyone felt the same way about Moderno as you did, and that's just not true. We ate at Moderno several times and thoroughly enjoyed it, as did friends we brought on most of those occasions. Both the food and the service were consistently excellent. It's clear from the above posts that many others here liked it as much as we did. I'm sorry you didn't like it; you're certainly welcome to your opinion, but please don't assume that the rest of us felt that way about it.
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#58
Posted December 20th 2012, 9:56pm
nsxtasy wrote:
Marija wrote:Interesting that all of the blame is focused on the customers. We've eaten hundreds of meals in Italy and certainly weren't intimidated by the menu. We just felt the food was mediocre and the service lousy. In contrast, our meals at Inovasi have been enjoyable. I think there's a real disconnect between what Moderno actually was and what the owner thought it was.

You seem to imply that everyone felt the same way about Moderno as you did, and that's just not true. We ate at Moderno several times and thoroughly enjoyed it, as did friends we brought on most of those occasions. Both the food and the service were consistently excellent. It's clear from the above posts that many others here liked it as much as we did. I'm sorry you didn't like it; you're certainly welcome to your opinion, but please don't assume that the rest of us felt that way about it.

Marija is referring to the eater article where the blame was put upon the community rather than execution of the restaurant (or business plan).
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#59
Posted December 20th 2012, 11:01pm
Just reading the Eater article, I fear that Des Rosiers might be shooting himself in the foot by "dumbing down" his restaurant to the level he (patronizingly?) seems to think Highland Park wants. To paraphrase the impression I get: "You didn't want a menu with words you couldn't understand. Okay, now you're gonna get burgers. You know what burgers are, right?"

But the article might not be doing him justice.
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#60
Posted December 20th 2012, 11:34pm
HI,

I was pretty sure all the anecdotes on customer behavior were straight from the Chef. I wonder if he has taken his complaints to his blog, if it still exists. He used to document his irritation with his customers there. While goodwill is an intangible asset, it is spitting into the wind to publicly complain about customers you need to walk in the door.

Highland Park Patch has an article on Moderno to reopen as more casual restaurant, which Des Rosiers and his Chef were not available to comment:

In his glowing review of Moderno, however, Patch columnist Ed Brill predicted what may have been an insurmountable obstacle for the restaurant: its limitations on the guests control over their order.

"The success or failure of [Moderno] will depend on whether or not Highland Park diners will accept a place without a Caesar salad or fried calamari, or if they are willing to eat the dishes as the kitchen envisions them," Brill wrote.

In a press release sent out Thursday afternoon, Renaissance Place General Manager Christiane Fischer said that the transition comes as a response to customers.

"Moderno was a truly great restaurant, but the owners listened to their customers and decided to change the concept to give them what they want, which is a more family focused, affordable dining experience," Fischer said.
...
"Residents are looking for a more approachable, casual experience," Business and Economic Development Commissioner Alyssa Knobel said. "They wanted to address those wants and needs, and be more family friendly."


Regards,
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Cathy2

"You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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