By Elissa Gilbert
With a collection that spans centuries and continents, exploring the Metropolitan Museum completely could take a lifetime. For those of us who can’t devote quite that much time, spending an entire day at the museum—especially a day when it stays open late—gives a taste of the collection. With five restaurants open to the public, you can have all your meals at the museum without eating in the same place twice.
Start with continental breakfast in the American Wing Café. Diners look outside to enjoy views of Central Park; the indoor view of Englehard Court includes the façade of the Branch Bank of the United States, fountains, and sculptures. The café serves a light menu. Early in the day, muffins, pastries, and coffee are available. Later the menu includes soups, salads, and sandwiches.
The café is a great place to take a break. It’s conveniently located for exploring the American Wing or the Temple of Dendur and Egyptian exhibits a few steps away. You can also venture to the upper level from the courtyard to reach the museum’s musical instrument collection.
The Cafeteria at the Metropolitan is in the basement, with no view. Lunch here includes kids meals served in NYC taxi containers. Choices for adults include sushi, pasta, sandwiches, salads, and the grill. You can buy a small bottle of wine to have with your meal. After you finish eating, explore the Lehman Collection, in its own wing right by the cafeteria.
To make sure you see some daytime sun during your visit, head up to the Roof Garden Café. From the spring through the fall, the rooftop café offers views of the New York City skyline, Central Park, and special sculpture exhibits. On Friday and Saturday, there’s a Martini Bar in the afternoon. You can also escape art overload by spending time on the roof and watching the sun set.
In the winter when the Roof Garden Café isn’t open, take an afternoon tea break in the Petrie Court Café. A statue of Perseus holding Medusa’s head points the way towards the restaurant in a quiet corner of the European Sculpture Park. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner. Unlike the museum’s other cafés, this one offers table service. The menu changes with the seasons and includes entrées like duck, salmon, or veal with wine pairing recommendations. A little tip for this restaurant is you won’t be dragged away from the table when the museum closes. If you enjoyed a leisurely dinner, you can have a few moments in a darkened, quiet museum free of visitors as you make your way out.
End your day at the museum with a drink at the Balcony Bar. Overlooking the museum’s Great Hall, the bar serves drinks, cocktails, and mocktails along with appetizers. A special menu is currently being served with tapas inspired by the exhibit, “El Greco in New York.” Musicians play classical music which makes ending the day here a treat for at least two of your five senses, if not more.