Celebrity chef and former Top Chef judge, David Burke, known for whimsical dishes like clothesline bacon, has opened a new 6,000 square-foot Manhattan restaurant.
Park Avenue Kitchen, a two-pronged restaurant in a corridor stocked with high-dollar new spots, is now open at 514 Lexington, at the corner of 48th Street, near Grand Central. In one entrance, it’s casual to-go or quick sit-down, while the other side is a brasserie with a range of offerings, including a “swinging tomahawk,” delivered hanging from a hook, aged in a Himalayan curing process that Burke has patented.
“We went with the two-concept model to address our vibrant Midtown Manhattan location in one of its most prestigious office buildings, 277 Park Avenue, which has just completed a $120 million-plus renovation to update and amenitize it,” says Burke via press release.
Burke, who lives at the Jersey Shore, established his reputation in the Manhattan restaurant scene starting with River Cafe 35 years ago. In Manhattan, he currently runs David Burke Tavern on the Upper East Side. Over in New Jersey, he runs a bit of a fiefdom that caters to locals and summer tourists in the archipelago of shorefront towns, ranging from Drifthouse, the restaurant for a beach club in Sea Bright, to Dixie Lee Bakery in Keyport.
Across the tri-state area and internationally, Burke has his name on 19 restaurants. This year, Park Avenue Kitchen is his sixth restaurant opening.
Back in New York, the chef’s fast-casual, 50-seat cafe touts a menu of a dozen salads and sandwiches as well as made-to-order items from an open kitchen, including burgers, the Road Runner chicken sandwich consisting of an entire chicken leg, and a clothesline-bacon BLT (an adaptation of the dish that Burke first debuted over a decade ago, when bacon was having a moment). The location serves as an option for the building’s office workers, nearby hotel customers, and commuters. Prices range from $12 to $20; beer, wine, and cocktails are also on offer.
The 106-seat brasserie on the other side features Burke’s take on classics: Instead of French onion soup, it’s tomato gratin, with a raft of garlic bread smothered in cheese. There’s also the crab cake pretzel raft, as well as clothesline bacon; spinach ricotta duck egg ravioli; and straight-ahead mains like salt-brick chicken with Job’s tears grains, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. (Appetizers run $17 to $30; mains $33 to $55; beef is $25 for a burger, and up.) Perhaps the showiest of the dishes come from the steak side of the menu, with items like a Tomahawk for two delivered tableside, hanging from hooks, with a smoking bed of hay under the steaks adding to the tableside drama, for $160.
Mancini Duffy — who orchestrated the looks of Corner Bar and the Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Tin Building — is behind the design of Park Avenue Kitchen. The brasserie doesn’t take itself too seriously, as illustrated by a giant Humpty Dumpty at the entrance (after all, this is a chef who has a mini-me sous chef puppet cooking show.) Inside, the dining room is aligned with brown leather booths and seafoam green velvet chairs. Pink Himalayan salt wall accents and sculptural chandeliers are decorative signatures here as well as in Burke’s other restaurants. The salt wall is a reference to his dry-aging process: As beef ages in the humidity controlled room, it’s apparently seasoned by the salt. The cafe is black, white, and gray, a brighter spot with marble tables.
Park Avenue Kitchen opens for dinner on December 7 with hours from 4 to 10 p.m. nightly except for Sunday, with kitchen service until 9 p.m. The bar is open nightly until midnight. Lunch begins December 12.