Museum eateries are, by and large, airy, pretty, tasty-and exceptionally well air-conditioned. New York boasts many, a handful of which are much less well known for their culinary accomplishments than they deserve to be. Here’s a few, along with a look at what’s on view before or after the meal.
The Neue Galerie
1048 Fifth Avenue
The Neue Galerie has two impressive cafes, both run by Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, of Michelin-starred Wallsé fame. Fledermaus, the bigger of the two, is on the lower level and is inspired by an eponymous prewar Viennese Cabaret. Checkered floors and marble walls give an Old World authenticity to the lunch, tea and viennoiserie served. (Try the spaetzle, or the apple strudel, above.) Fledermaus is something of an insider secret, as it lacks the lines of its upstairs, fancier counterpart, Café Sabarsky, but the menu is the same. Hours are noon to 6 p.m Friday, Saturday and Sunday. An Otto Dix exhibit is scheduled to end Aug. 30, but the eateries are open without a museum admittance fee. www.neuegalerie.org
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue
Midtown chic. The Morgan’s cafe is a airy, Minimalist-inspired dining area that looks over the museum’s central court. The food is American-style, and the cafe is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., though on Friday it’s open until 8 p.m. On view through Aug. 29 is an exhibition of works by figures whose work intersects with 19th- and 20th-century Romanticism, including J.M.W. Turner.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
The Met’s American Wing Café (one of several eateries at the institution) sits within a light-filled atrium, flanked by the grand pavilion’s sculpture and its Tiffany stained-glass panels. Central Park is also within view. Just down the hall from the cafe are two American Wing treasures: Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware; and a spectacular view of the Catskill Mountains, Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirts, owned by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton and on loan to the museum. Cafe hours are 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, with a later 8:30 p.m. closing time on Friday and Saturday. http://www.metmuseum.org
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
In the New York neighbourhood dubbed Carnegie Hill, Sunday brunch is an institution, and Wright, at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim, is a popular place to have it. At the swanky, brightly colored eatery, the curvilinear walls and counters seem to arc in tandem with the host museum’s own. A tony brunch menu (brunch is served every Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) features gazpacho sorbet, Maine lobster salad and eggs that it promises are “gently cooked.” The restaurant (adjacent to the museum) is also open for lunch and dinner most days. On view at the museum through Sept. 7 is a gorgeous show that pairs two Russian Abstract Expressionists: Vasily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich. http://www.guggenheim.org
The Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
Sunny and serene, this Park Avenue museum’s light-infused courtyard, dotted with trees, is a popular luncheon spot, both for its looks and its unique fare. The menu offers a selection of unusually flavored homemade ice teas, plus curries, fish and vegetarian options. The Michelin-starred Garden Court Café is open in the summer from noon to 2 p.m. every day but Monday. (Museum admittance is not required.) The show on at the museum now, through Aug. 15, is “Rivers of Ice,” photographs of the glaciers of Himalaya.
58 Park Avenue
A little-known gem. Closer than Ikea and far more tasty, Scandinavia House’s Smörgås Chef serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with separate tea and dessert menus for the hours in between. The first-floor cafe, open to all Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., serves Scandinavian delicacies from caviar to gravlax and the much-fêted Swedish meatballs. Scandinavia House’s current exhibit on Swedish fashion will run through Aug. 21, and it has an active film program with a dinner-and-a-movie option. www.scandinaviahouse.org
The Museum of Art
2 Columbus Circle
The swanky eatery, on the top floor of the museum, has floor-to-ceiling windows and a great name: Robert. Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., can be had at tables overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park, or on nearby sofas. Evenings, Wednesday through Saturday, a live pianist entertains the diners. (Museum admittance is not required.) At the museum, an exhibition on bespoke bicycles runs through Aug. 15.
The New Museum
The New Museum’s lobby cafe is called New Food, and is accessible without paying the museum’s entry charge. Specializing in sandwiches, salads and artisanal chocolate, it is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., and Thursday and Friday, noon to 10 p.m. A retrospective of the works of contemporary Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander will be on display at the museum through Sept. 19.