When you visit David Burke’s sophisticated and intimate outpost, nestled on East 62nd Street, you can do more than devour steamed lobster dumplings and porterhouse dry-aged steaks, you can feast your eyes on contemporary art from Burke’s personal collection and exchange a glance or two at rows of celebrity signed salt bricks tightly layered in a covert pink Himalayan salt room too. David Burke Tavern, a modern American restaurant situated inside the first two floors of an Upper East Side townhouse, is a contemporary gastronomic hot spot that aims at offering an adventurous showcase of revolutionary culinary techniques and creative presentations that are outside of the box.
In his latest chat with Manhattan, Burke gave us an insider's look at his elevated Upper East Side eatery, his personal collection of art and what guests have to look forward to this spring with the launch of the spot's new menu.
You recently announced that you would be launching a new spring menu at your Upper East Side outpost, David Burke Tavern—so tell us what we can expect to see on it.
DAVID BURKE: We’re always changing the menu at David Burke Tavern because we are inspired by seasonality, but this time we’re launching a new really creative menu that will have that "wow" factor. We’re bringing back a few of the classics, like my swordfish chops and then adding a few newer dishes like a pork shank and a whole roasted seabass.
David Burke Tavern has become a Manhattan hot spot on East 62nd Street. What originally encouraged you to open this Modern American Restaurant?
DB: I’ve been on the Upper East Side since 1992, when I was at Park Avenue Café, so I had a following up here and our 62ndstreet townhouse is beautiful. It was a natural fit.
The tavern’s intimate backdrop also highlights select works of art chosen from your personal collection including pieces by early modernist Marc Chagall, the sculptor Livio de Marchi and artist Mitchell Schorr. What made you bring pieces from your personal collection at home into your restaurant?
DB: They’re beautiful works of art and there is no reason to have them in my house or in storage, so I have them where I can share them with others. I like to enjoy them too and I spend far more time at work than I do at home.
Tell us more about Michael Schorr's “Hot in the Kitchen,” which depicts you cooking in your own kitchen. What were you making?
DB: I don’t quite remember, but I was likely at the Beard House. It could have been my angry lobster dumplings!
One of the most unique things about your restaurant is the pink Himalayan salt room, where you dry-age the spot's beef. Tell us why you patented this process.
DB: The venture came about when I was tinkering with another idea, and the salt-aging process happened to be a result. We trademarked it because we wanted to be the first to market; its proprietary, but we are flattered when people copy it. We just don’t want to lose the importance of where it came from and it’s pretty neat to have a U.S. patent.
When you're not dining in at your own restaurants, where do you like to grab something to eat?
DB: I still like the River Café, that’s my go-to. Or I’ll stop by at J.G. Melon after work for a burger.
Do you have your mind set on opening another David Burke outpost?
DB: In the garden of the Garden State!
Photography by: David Burke Tavern