ARMONK, N.Y. -- When the Livanos family first bought the site for Moderne Barn in Armonk four years ago, it was nothing more than a rundown farmhouse.
The space, which had once been the Yellow Barn Furniture Store, could have been renovated extensively to the point where you would never know its humble beginnings.
However, the Livanos family, a group of restauranteurs who also own City Limits Diner in White Plains, decided they wanted to keep an element of rustic charm to the space.
"We wanted to keep a bit of the history," said one of the owners, Nick Livanos of Armonk. "So we named it the Moderne Barn because it sold contemporary furniture."
According to Livanos, the space was lackluster and made entirely of cinderblock.
"We had a vision of putting windows in here, and we left some of the old farm elements because this part of Westchester is very country," he said.
Livanos explained his family wanted to open a restaurant in their town of residence because of their observed lack of sophisticated dining options.
"We all live in Armonk and we felt there was a void in this town. There weren't too many dining options. So we really wanted a restaurant that catered to the different whims of dining with the proper touch of sophistication," he said.
Now, with its rich contemporary decor, menus jam-packed with interesting flavors, sweeping bar, 750-item wine list, rooftop garden and more, Moderne Barn has not only filled the void, but outgrown it.
Chef Ethan Kostbar, executive chef, has been with the restaurant since its inception, and was given free rein in designing the menu.
"When I first came to see the space, I knew that this was going to be somewhere that appealed to locals. We have a lot of regulars as well, so I wanted there to be a variety on the menu," he said.
Kostbar is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has worked previously in New York City and Washington D.C.
His main mission is to create fun and interesting dishes you won't find anywhere else.
Just two weeks ago he added the Escargot Tortellini to the menu, which is served with a spinach puree, shaved grana padano cheese and tomato lemon garlic butter ($18.)
A seasoned favorite is the Thick-Cut Berkshire Pork Chops, served with provolone polenta, roasted red bell peppers, spanish onions and balsamic vinegar rosemary sauce ($29.)
However, Kostbar admits the top best-selling dish that keeps people coming back for more is the Barn Salad, which is served with black ceci beans, chickpeas, black olives, orange segments, cucumbers, pistachios, eggs and blue cheese, topped with your choice of grilled chicken ($18), tiger shrimp ($21), Atlantic salmon ($21) or Hanger steak ($22).
You read it right before, Moderne Barn carries 750 different bottles of wine - curated, studied and tasted by beverage manager Matt Christoff.
The 28-year-old Hudson Valley native is only beginning his studies to become a sommelier, but his knowledge and approachability goes a long way.
"I don't want to be seen as the snobby sommelier," he said, "Our wine list is huge and intimidating, and I want to be available to customers to help them navigate."
The wine is kept upstairs in three chillers, and each of the 750 has been purchased at least once.
Christoff emphasizes supporting local business, and thusly featured extensively on the spirits menu is COMB of Port Chester and beer from Captain Lawrence of Elmsford.
Moderne Barn is located at 430 Bedford Rd and is open for lunch on Monday to Friday from noon to 2:30 p.m., dinner Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., dinner Friday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m, dinner Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday Brunch from 11:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
All major credit cards are accepted, and parking is available onsite.
Check back with The Daily Voice for our weekly restaurant feature series.
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