Courtesy of David Burke
Okay, so I didn’t really write on the wall at the Upper East Side’s Tavern62, the latest from Chef David Burke. I wrote on a block of Himalayan sea salt that’s now stacked on a wall surrounding a specific booth.
In the past, this ritual was reserved for other chefs passing through some of Burke’s other restaurants, but now it’s a way to show guests just how much the restaurant appreciates their patronage.
The blocks do serve a practical purpose — they’re part of a patented dry-aging technique for steaks. They’re also used, in some cases, as serving slabs.
On a recent Friday night, we were invited to try everything from the crab cakes to the Dover sole, which was one of the most sumptuous fish preparations I’ve ever had. The process starts off simply enough, by steaming the fish, tail-on, trimming its fins, and skinning it.
Then — not surprisingly from a chef known for his lollipop cheesecake trees, clothesline maple bacon, and other creative takes on classic American dishes — things really get interesting.
“We butterfly the fish while leaving the tail bone on and the lower half intact, then sandwich the sides back together with sweet butter and lemon zest, tie it up, dredge in refined flour, and saute in olive oil,” Burke said. “This is finished in an oven and plated with grapes, mushroom, and soy ginger butter. This can be done for fluke as well, and flounder. It’s a very versatile approach to fish.”
Fans of Burke will be surprised to see the very comfortable and Old New York décor of this space, which is something he says is new for him “but very fitting for the Upper East Side.”
“We are making the experience more cozy and less flashy, transforming this unique townhouse space into something special.”