Danny Meyer’s newest restaurant venture on the ground floor of the new Whitney Museum serves clever, clear, and colorful dishes with local influences and broad appeal, making it your next dining destination in the city.
Not surprisingly, people come to me for individual restaurant suggestions quite often. Most of the time they’re looking for a place to eat in a certain neighborhood, and while I think my mind is naturally organized in relation to the city grid, I always like to remind friends that where you are shouldn’t dictate where you eat, rather, where you eat should determine where you are. Regardless, if you really need to find a place to dine in Midtown East, I can probably help you out.
But other times, people ask me to suggest just a new, fun restaurant that they should try for a casual dinner with friends and family. Lately, the only answer I’ve been giving to this question is simply, "Untitled."
Because Untitled will certainly be everyone’s Favorite New Restaurant and New Favorite Restaurant right after the first meal. It’s a restaurant that has a truly uncanny ability to make you think "I want to be a regular here so badly" the moment you walk out the door with a complimentary chocolate chip cookie to take home because you were too full after 8 courses to order dessert but were clearly pining for it when you saw it arrive on neighboring tables, and of course your waiter took notice and packed one up for you.
Untitled is able to capture this affect so well, because everything at the restaurant is already working nearly perfectly.
While some naysayers have commented on the harshness and sternness of the interior space, I have to politely disagree. Taste may be a matter of personal discretion, but Untitled is one of the most beautiful artistically and architecturally rendered restaurants to arrive in New York this year. Pops of red from the plush, deeply comfortable Saarinen chairs color the space, while round domes of soft yellow light guide the eye in a procession toward Renzo Piano’s sleek curtain wall that frames a particularly lush section at the end of the High Line. There is a warmth and ease in the energy around the tables and the bar, making the space inherently comfortable for grabbing a quick drink or enjoying a long, drawn out meal.
The transition from space to concept to food is seamless at Untitled, where Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern is leading the kitchen, and where the transparency to the exterior means the food is inspired by a bounty of bright vegetation and planting nearby, and the flavors are thus fresh, clear, and vibrant.
Rightfully so, vegetables are treated with a particular dynamic and imaginative energy. Our table eased into the meal with a bowl of chilled peas seasoned with salt, pepper, and chamomile for an ineffable, herbal air, and soaked lightly in a panna cotta butter, whose creaminess hinted at the silky texture of the chickpea hummus that we would next enjoy with bright cherry tomatoes.
Just like the visual experience of the museum and this corner of the city at the terminus of the High Line, there is both exuberance and sophistication in each of the plates. The Yellowtail Flounder with radish and roe was intensely citrusy, yet quick and light on the palette, while the Pole Beans with calamari and hazelnuts were quickly grilled, allowing the flavors to remain strong, nutty, and juicy.
There is a welcome contrast with the Corn Flatbread with bacon and okra, whose creamy, rich, southern flavors balance the more ethereal notes of the earlier vegetable plates while still remaining colorful and energetic. The Duck Sausage with mustard sauce was also tender and sweet with a distinct peppery bite, an elegant transition before the Smoked Spare Ribs served alongside apricots and caraflex cabbage. Each flavor manages to stand out with precision on the plates, particularly in the Artichoke Fettuccine, swirled around in a medley of swiss chard, black olives, and tomatoes, for alternating notes of richness, acidity, and bitterness.
The menu from which I composed my spontaneous tasting is indeed inventive, connecting these many distinct flavors with clarity, focus, and excitement, much like the city and the museum do themselves. The staff that guides each guest through the meal is also a special brand of charming, and eagerly tries to connect the diners to the food and its surroundings, though from start to finish, the restaurant is so conceptually, architecturally, and culinarily strong that their joy and authenticity just complete an already extraordinary experience.
So where should you eat next? Untitled. Because if Untitled isn’t the Best New Restaurant and New Best Restaurant on your agenda, I’m not sure what will be.