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The foodie world got a preview of chef John DeLucie’s new uptown restaurant, Crown, when he hosted the Met Ball after-party in May. But after that speculation-fueling glimpse, the boite has been closed for business — sort of. From time to time, DeLucie has held private dinners for a handful of bold-faced names, including Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in July and, on Monday, he served roast organic chicken and zucchini cake to John Demsey and Carolina Herrera at a private preview hosted by Alina Cho.
“After the Met Ball party, we figured it was almost summer and this is the Upper East Side, so we said, ‘let’s hold off and open in the fall,’” says DeLucie, in Crown’s basement-level library, which is located behind a secret door that doubles as a book case.
It’s just the kind of thing you would expect from DeLucie, formerly of The Waverly Inn, known for its Graydon Carter-approved seating chart and unlisted number, and lately The Lion, which serves VIPs through a secret e-mail address and counts Dan Abrams and David Zinczenko as part owners.
With summer over and Upper East Siders trickling back from the beach, DeLucie will open Crown’s doors to the general public on Sept. 9. And they will be open. DeLucie insists Crown will be less exclusive than his previous haunts. No big name editors have signed on as investors, the phone number will be listed and it will be easy to find. (Certain readers may want to note the restaurant’s plans to host a late night, post-Fashion’s Night Out seating on Sept. 8.)
“I think you’ll see a lot of people that have been friends of The Lion, The Waverly but will it be the same kind of crowd? I think it will obviously have a more uptown bent,” says DeLucie. “The people that are really important, though, are the ones living on 81st Street [the restaurant is at Madison and 81st Street], or 80th or 79th. It’s the kind of place where you’ll see the same people coming in two to three times a week.”
The sprawling two-level French Deco-inspired restaurant is housed in the ground floor of an apartment building that dates to the 1890s. Art remains from that period, as well as design notes of zinc, a mirrored bar and lots of black lacquer. Inside the kitchen, Jason Hall from Gotham Bar & Grill has signed on as executive chef, Heather Bertinetti from Marea as pastry chef and Jordan Salcito from Daniel as sommelier.
The menu hasn’t been finalized but DeLucie calls it “accessible.” “We’re not really going to challenge anyone,” he says. “There will be a great roast chicken, a dry-aged steak.” What about those biscuits? “We’ll have something similar to it.”
“This is very different than what we’ve done before,” DeLucie notes. “I feel really good about this project. I probably wouldn’t have said that a month ago.”