When Good Restaurants Go Bad

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The first sign was the asparagus. It’s December here in New York and on the breakfast menu at Untitled at the Whitney, a Danny Meyer restaurant which we frequent whenever we’re in the city, there’s an asparagus omelette. “Asparagus in December?” I asked and then Tweeted something about it, prompting a sarcastic response from the very funny Twitter personage BoobsRadley: “Outraged!” Ok, ok, maybe it’s not something to be outraged about, but it is a sign that something’s a little off, especially when a restaurant’s proprietor is at the helm of such season-oriented restaurants as Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.

The omelette that caught my eye was one with snow peas and ham and I can’t really tell you why I didn’t ask the same question about the snow peas that I asked about the asparagus: isn’t that a spring ingredient too? When the omelette came out–it’s the one you see above–it tasted like a warmed over rubber mat folded around greasy snow peas and chunks of ham. There was no cheese to fuse it all together; it was like the world’s most boring burrito. It needed a heavy hit of salt and pepper. The potatoes were dry and mealy, like little packets of cloth.

Craig didn’t mind his egg sandwich as much as I minded my omelette, but he did confess that the yolks were way overcooked and chalky:

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The restaurant, which is in a beautiful room underneath the museum, still packs them in at brunchtime. And I suppose that’s why the menu remains static and why the kitchen churns out such uninspired food. Normally I don’t write posts like these–I meet a lot of restaurant people these days, and I don’t like to ruffle feathers–but there’s something sad about a really good, beloved restaurant going so far off the rails. When we left Untitled, I said: “Let’s not go back.”

With all of the excellent brunch places to choose from here in the city (Allswell and Calliope, for example) there’s no reason to spend good money on poorly cooked, under-seasoned eggs. Untitled, we had our good times, but I think for now we should go our separate ways.

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