Few words run a shiver of dread through the spine of a restaurant critic quite like museum restaurant. (Guy Fieri beats it by a hair.) They’re at best stately, at worst flippantly thoughtless, often sapped dry of personality or frosted with a gallery-like chill. Untitled—Danny Meyer’s glass-encased, Renzo Piano–designed dining room carved into the side of the recently relocated Whitney Museum—oddly falls somewhere in between.
The room is slightly dated but airy, with 30-foot ceilings, white-oak tabletops and cherry Saarinen cushion chairs that match the red straps on waiters’ aprons. The neutral-heavy minimalism keeps the gaze on Michael Anthony’s painterly plates, brushed with the focused seasonality the James Beard Award–winning chef is known for through his work at Gramercy Tavern.
If only the food delivered the wows of its looks. Flatbread mosaicked with sweet spring onion and nubby cubes of thick-cut bacon is plagued by an offputting layer of grease between bread and topping ($13), while a neat file of fluke slips colored with radish slices and sorrel leaves is overdressed with lime and salmon roe that tastes of fish, not freshness ($15). The experimental-sounding roasted-and-fried chicken ($24) ends up being a puny bird haphazardly adorned with frizzled fowl nuggets over snap peas and undercooked creamed kale.
But there is art to be had, and in a surprising form: a chocolate-chunk cookie ($8). Pastry chef Miro Uskokovic folds 72 percent dark, 38 percent milk and 31 percent white Guittard chocolate into the oven-warm round for a fudgy core encased inside a textbook-crisp, sea-salted hull. Served with a glass of Madagascan-bourbon-vanilla–infused milk, it’s a gorgeous display of the formal meeting the familiar, a meeting of the minds that pops up all too rarely at Untitled.