I arrived in the city today to a warm welcome from Steve. Laguardia, as usual, was a mess. But, what are you going to do about it? We schlepped into the city to the wonderful confines of davidburke Townhouse, a restaurant on East 61st that seems to drive home the very feeling of the Upper East Side. David Burke is a chef I just recently ran into. Though his name probably rings several alarms for other foodies, I wasn’t familiar with his work. Now, to say the very least, I am.
Steve had, in the past, heard a little bit of buzz about Burke during his “& Donatella” days, but had yet to dine at any of Burke’s present restaurants. After i arrived in NYC (woo, I’m finally here!) Steve and I headed over to the East side for a meal at David Burke’s restaurant, Townhouse. As we stepped inside, we were immediately drawn to the bar, which is backed in rock salt; soft light diffused through it, especially after the sun set, creating a pleasantly warm atmosphere. We were seated, and, as the trips down several small flights of stairs left us feeling an “Alice in Wonderland” feeling, a great room filled with bright color, pleasantly loud conversation, and a closeness to other patrons not usually felt in a restaurant the size of Townhouse opened a spot for us.
The food, in a word, was brilliant. From the bread service (a take on a popover–more substantial and topped with a stem of rosemary–served with butter on a chilled salt block) to the exquisitely prepared seafood, we were sold on the dishes prepared by head chef Sylvain Delpique. Steve started with the pretzel crusted crab cake, which was delicious. We both noticed that it was on the previous Restaurant Week menu (from other reviews). I chose a freshly prepared market salad. Both were artfully constructed, and the wonderful crispy texture of the crab cake was a great balance (of course i stole a bite) to my tender, well-dressed salad outfitted with a wonderful piece of goat cheese.
We both chose entrees headed by seafood–maybe we were feeling a bit full from the wonderful bread and appetizers–and were both pleasantly satisfied by the dishes. Steve chose a john dory (a daily special) which was simply prepared and pan seared. We both loved the firm texture of the john dory, and the Flowers Chardonnay we chose paired beautifully with the accoutrement–tomato brown butter and artichokes–of the fish. I chose the sea scallops with morel mushrooms, which was wonderful. The entree could have used more salt–which is ironic, as salt seems to be a running theme in the restaurant–but was still quite wonderful with perfectly-seared scallops.
For dessert, we chose the cheesecake lollipop tree. A signature of Burke, the tree is a must-have at many of his restaurants, and we felt almost obligated to try the playful take on chocolate covered cheesecake. They were magical–it was a really fun adventure to try the different variations together, mixing and matching the types of chocolate with the lightly-flavored bubblegum whipped cream. We also loved the take-home petit fors (we still haven’t tried them, but they look like delicious little confections)–much like Tom Colicchio’s take-home treats, it’s a great reminder of the time we spent at Townhouse.
Overall, Steve and I were definitely pleased with Townhouse. While the food was playful, it was definitely approachable, and we both enjoyed the flavors very much. The room was fabulous once the lights dimmed–the stark white, black, and red theme mellowed into a much warmer setting as the candles, held in salt blocks, again, began to light the room. We both left pleasantly full, but we know we’ll be dining with Burke and his executive chef Delpique again soon.