Eduardo Porto Carreiro began his career at Grace in Los Angeles, working with Chef Neil Frazer, then opened Lukshon before heading east to join Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group in New York. In May of this year, he opened Untitled at the Whitney, working with Chef Michael Anthony of the Union Square Hospitality Group, in a glassed dining room at the base of Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum of American Art.
On European Wines for a Locavore Menu
Here’s the thing. When this space was designed, Renzo Piano had a very particular point of view. When Mike Anthony was designing the menu, he wanted to echo and honor that point of view of brightness and lightness and clarity. When I was writing the wine list, I wanted to echo that point of view and had only 215 wines to do it. It ended up being a list that had Burgundy and Loire and Beaujolais on it.
The wines from NY that appear on the list all follow suit and are true to those points of philosophy. But it happens that the vast majority of wines that made the short list are from the Old World. Since we opened eight months ago, we’ve seen 500 wines go through the list. We’re reprinting it several times a week; I want to stay as flexible as possible. So I am not shutting out any particular region. Who knows, later this year, the list might be focused on the wines of the Finger Lakes, if the menu needs that and the guests are asking for that. It’s the exciting aspect of having such a fluid list, to be able to improve and adapt to the seasons and what’s happening on the plate, and what’s being called for by our guests. I always go back to the short list, in air quotes, that make the food taste better.
Wines of Chablis have had this renaissance; there are people excited about the region and the buzz has become contagious. If you are smart in the producers you are working with, Chablis can be some of the most versatile wines. They play well with our menu—which is vegetable focused, leaning toward white wines with purity and minerality, as well as red wines with elegance and brightness. For guests with several plates and dishes, all with a variety of flavors on the vegetable side of the spectrum, Chablis will be one of our recommendations.
On Guests Guzzling Gamay
When I saw two Beaujolais in the top ten, I thought I must be doing something right! The list is a big page that is folded over so it ends up being a front, two panels on the inside and a back. The front page ends up being a banner or a spotlight for wines we are excited about and that we think are appropriate for the season. The front page right now spotlights syrah. In previous iterations, we had Champagne, before that it was cabernet franc, and before that it was gamay. I think it has to do with what is spotlighted on the wine list—that we put fourteen gamays on the front page.
On Surprising Conversations at Table
It’s something people keep talking about, almost on a yearly basis, that guests are much more open and appreciative of recommendations. At least here, our clientele has embraced a chat about wine and working together to find the perfect bottle for that evening. We haven’t taken any steps back in terms of wine consuming in this city and country. It’s just been getting better over the years. I would never have expected there to be two cru Beaujolais in the top ten. When someone looks up to me and says, ‘I tend to prefer Fleurie over Morgon,’ that’s not a conversation I would have had five years ago. And if someone asks me about the Ardeche versus the northern Rhône, that’s not something I would ever have expected.
On the USHG No-Tipping Policy
We’re calling it Hospitality Included. The Modern is the first. By the end of this year, the rest will follow suit. We are all eagerly awaiting our turn It’s going to be an interesting transition but I think New York is ready for it. If one goes to Paris, to France, we sit down, we order, we have a great meal, we pay and everything is included. In terms of cities and expectations, New York is on par with the traditions of service-included pricing and I think people will be able to go with the flow.
The interesting point of discussion is, what if people suffer sticker shock from opening up a menu and seeing prices that have service included. I think the intelligent clientele we see here will be able to appreciate that everything is included and won’t bat an eye at shifting their mental calculators to see where they’re at the end of the meal. I’ve spoken to people who have dined at The Modern and they all comment on how easy it is, no mental addition at the end of the meal. They’re stoked about it. I think this restaurant will be an easy transition for this initiative. In terms of a cultural shift with the type of team members we have here, I think everyone will be working together and appreciative of the fact that we’re now on a more equal footing and in a more constructive space.
photo by Melissa Hom