John DeLucie arrived with a splash in 2006 with the opening of Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter’s uber-exclusive, then semi-private Waverly Inn. He went on to found The Lion in 2010, which quickly became a similarly exclusive gathering spot for the town’s movers and shakers. Now, with the 2011 opening of Crown in a beautiful 1930s Upper East Side townhouse, DeLucie has aimed to create an uptown counterpart that serves “comfort food for millionaires”. He has brought in an impressive line-up: Jason Hall, formerly the chef de cuisine at Gotham Bar & Grill, as executive chef; Heather Bertinetti, formerly of a slew of Michael White restaurants (Alto, Convivio, Marea and Osteria Morini), as pastry chef; and Jordan Salcito, formerly of Daniel, as sommelier.
DeLucie has a romanticized view of Old New York, and decided to open Crown when he saw the posh prewar space. The townhouse leads through a narrow mirrored and zinc bar into a formal, elegant dining room swathed in wood molding and featuring lots of original detail and a vaulted limestone fireplace and finally to a casual, clubby dining nook blanketed in framed black-and-white photos and dominated by a huge slanted floor-to-ceiling skylight that lets in gorgeous evening light on the festive, blazer-festooned crowd. It is a restaurant of wonderfully contrasting interiors — there is grand formality and clubby informality yoked together. The clientele is mostly comprised of locals and the ambiance, contrary to what you might expect, is more low-key and family-oriented than celebrity-driven.
The menu is a compilation of largely familiar dishes, many superbly executed. You cannot go wrong with any of the cuts of prime dry-aged beef, including a 28 Day New York Strip and a 35 Day Dry Côte de Boeuf (for two), which can be served with an outstanding béarnaise sauce. Among the pastas, there is an excellent housemade penne with black trumpet mushrooms, smoked bacon and a farm egg, as well as a “silk handkerchief” pasta, made with a mixture of pork and veal stewed in duck fat, white Bolognese, parsley, hazelnuts and pecorino romano. Although Crown is an obvious place to dine if you live in the neighborhood or find yourself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we would also encourage DeLucie’s downtown acolytes to make a pilgrimage uptown to experience its classy, continental cooking.
24 E. 81st St.
646-559-4880 Dinner Sun -Thu 5:30 to 11 p.m, Fri and Sat to midnight; Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
RECOMMENDED DISHES See All
- Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine - black cherries, rhubarb, ginger, 50 year balsamic
- Grass-Fed Beef Crudo - arugula, parmigiano reggiano, truffle vinaigrette
- Housemade Penne - black trumpet mushrooms, smoked bacon, farm egg
- Silk Handkerchief Pasta - white Bolognese, parsley, hazelnuts, pecorino romano
- 28 Day New York Strip served with shallot marmalade, horseradish lardo, béarnaise
- Pennsylvania Rack of Lamb - rainbow swiss chard, chanterelles, baby carrots, ruby port bordelaise
- Roasted & Braised Muscovy Duck (For Two) - baby turnips, pears, mustard greens, autumn spice