David Burke is back in the kitchen, and he’s turning back time to old New York.
The celebrity chef is opening his first restaurant in partnership with ESquared Hospitality, who launched By Chloe last year, this Saturday, Oct. 8. Tavern62 by David Burke (135 E. 62nd St.) brings something he says has been missing in the Upper East Side: “a luxurious tavern somewhat similar to Polo Bar and Nomad, with some of the sensibilities of PJ Clarke’s or 21 Club.”
So, polished but not too stiff. The location, inside a two-story townhouse, welcomes patrons into a casual bar area downstairs, while the second floor is a more formal dining room. The vibe is old New York, nostalgic without being sappy.
Burke, who had stepped away from the day-to-days at his other restaurants a couple years ago, says it’s been “great fun” to be back in the kitchen with executive chef Ed Cotton, who was previously turning out modern Italian fare at Sotto 13.
He describes the result of their collaboration as “more of the acoustic version, the unplugged version” of his usual “rock ‘n’ roll style.” The dishes are rooted in classic concepts, but all get a Burke twist: a surf & turf of roasted scallops and corned beef cheeks, Peking-style pork shank with plum sauce, and a Caesar salad with smoked trout dressing.
Then there’s Duck Duck Duck, which features the bird three ways, and the Chocolate Waffle Cake, essentially a brunch ice cream sundae made with a tableside waffle iron. Rest assured that Burke’s extravagance has not been tamed.
“We’ve gone from the really expensive experimental stuff to the molecular stuff to the barbecue and the Brooklyn food,” he says. “It’s time to settle in and get some serious, creative, solid American food.”
Lunch (coming soon) will be another experiment, skewing fairly traditional until about 3 p.m., then continuing into the late afternoon with a menu of toasts and flatbreads prepared behind the bar downstairs. A pair of open-faced sandwiches like smoked salmon, reuben and, yes, avocado, will run a modest $15 to pair with wine, craft beers or sommelier-curated cocktails.
“We want to create a lunch vibe,” says Burke, “but also we want the finesse of a great New York City restaurant.”