Danny Meyer's newest venture, a cafe for the Whitney called Untitled, takes the coffee shop of the '60s as its inspiration but manages to incorporate what's best about most of Meyer's operations: locally sourced, seasonally fresh fare, prepared by talented hands (Executive Chef Chris Bradley, formerly of Gramercy Tavern) and offered at reasonable prices.
The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch during the week (with both menus offered all day), and for dinner on weekends; we stopped in for a late breakfast on a quiet Tuesday, when the kitchen is open despite the galleries being closed to the public, and started our day with a chocolate egg cream ($5)--chocolate syrup, seltzer, and milk. However, a more traditional start is also available, with coffee from (who else?) Stumptown roasters, or a selection of housemade juices.
One could probably be satisfied with a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, or yogurt and granola, but we jumped right to the egg dishes and tried the namesake breakfast sandwich ($8), composed of sausage, egg, and cheese on a roll. The pork sausage patty is thick enough to make this resemble a mini-burger, and leads the charge when it comes to the sandwich's flavor. Well-seasoned with thyme, sage, and pepper, it's delicious enough to overlook any overbearing quality (although you better enjoy sausage). A fried egg, perfectly done with a slightly runny center, sits atop the patty and a thin slice of cheese disappears into the roll--which resembles an English muffin with extra cornmeal (only it's better).
Next up was the bowl of Poached Eggs over Cheese Grits and Chard ($13). The grits were creamy, but not so much as to obscure their rich corn flavor. The poached eggs, once broken to release their yolks, made the whole dish taste almost buttery--in perfect contrast to the bright, and slightly bitter, lightly-sauteed greens. This dish comes with a side of toast, butter and housemade preserves. We tried the extra-nutty Bourbon Wheat from Brooklyn-based Scratchbread (dried bourbon soaked currants, sprouted spelt, whole grain oats and toasted pecans), which came with a small, tart serving of rhubarb preserves, but which went equally well with the eggs and grits as a serving device.
They were out of the French Toast, but you'll hear no complaints here, as the Huckleberry-topped Buttermilk Pancakes ($12) were delicious. I was a bit concerned at first: the kitchen sent out the order early (the service was slightly disorganized) and without the huckleberries; so often, when pancakes are made to sit, they turn to mush. They smelled fantastic, however, and fortunately tasted just as good (and remained light) once the topping arrived. Similar to blueberries (but slightly more tart), the huckleberries added enough flavor so as to render maple syrup unnecessary. Just beware of their staining spray as you attack the plate with your fork!
The restaurant's suppliers are proudly listed on a chalkboard over the bar: Milk from Battenkill Creamery in Salem, Oats & Grains from Cayuga Pure Organics in Ithaca, and Apple Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn--just to name a few. The inspiration may be coffee-shop classics, but the quality results seem anything but.