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Untitled works have always felt a little stiff to me, not that I’m an authority on art. But Danny Meyer’s Untitled restaurant on the ground floor of the Whitney museum seems a bit that way, especially when compared to his other cozily refined projects like Union Square Cafe and The Modern.
I guess sticking to the art reference, Untitled seems like, say, a Rothko to his many Monets. Both are substantive in their own rights, but they accomplish it in very different ways.
The most obvious deviation from the warmth exemplified at his USC and Maialino is Untitled’s colder, sunlit setting, encased in floor to ceiling glass. While it felt a little out of character, anyone not knowing it’s a Meyer establishment would likely appreciate how the restaurant is obviously made to fit the contemporary art museum that houses it — even the foods and the ways they’re represented are fillled with contrasting lines and colors.
So all this is to say that there’s a certain type of beauty in Untitled, even though it’s not quite up to Meyer standards. Take the fondue starter. The cheeses are in-your-face rich — the type of dish where the first bite is delicious and powerful but late one becomes a bit of a struggle.
No complaints about the chicken salad though. It’s a very unsalad salad because that fried chicken is really well prepared and steals the shows. The pretty greens are lightly dressed, and you’ll uncover a delightful scoop of…chicken salad…at the bottom that really ups the dish another notch.
So that’s a total gem at Untitled, and I’m sure there are some more peppered around its lunch menu. The key probably isn’t to go in expecting a typical Meyer experience, but more so an extension of an art museum where there will naturally be some pieces that astound and some that confuse.