Let’s Do Brunch

by Alex R. Travers

For bon mot-tossing Upper East Siders who prefer the term le grand petit déjeuner to brunch, John DeLucie’s take on New York’s most social meal delivers new delights. Crown (the name comes from the red and gold crown above its wrought iron entrance at 24 East 81st Street) oozes exclusivity. It’s housed in a pre-War brownstone just a stone’s throw away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By day, a large glass window lets in natural light and offers a view of the neighbor’s garden. By night, warm candlelight accents the collection of drawings of women in flapper dresses and men in tuxedos. The pictures hang against dark wood paneling with soft shades of gray that give the dining room a speakeasy glow. Speaking of speakeasies, in Crown’s basement you’ll find a swinging bookcase-door that acts as the façade for a private bar and V.I.P. table. (Hint: pull the hardcover furthest to your right.)

Mr. DeLucie—the chef and proprietor of Crown and The Lion, as well as an Oceana and Waverly Inn alum—happily tags Crown’s cooking, “comfort food for millionaires.” Bicoastal oysters, golden ostera caviar, eggs-your-way, and bold cocktail concoctions—don’t miss the Bull’s Blood—all dot the fancy-fonted midday menu. But along with the de rigueur brunch items, Mr. DeLucie sprinkles in some surprises. The ricotta pancakes alongside huckleberries and Vermont maple syrup are weightless and yield tremendous flavors. The homemade penne paired with black trumpet mushrooms, smoked bacon, and farm egg is pure breakfast bliss.

With DeLucie at the helm, expect formal and accommodating service. The servers lift away each course as stealthily as Pierce Brosnan’s Thomas Crown stole Monets. After all of this, if you still have room, try some desserts by Heather Bertinetti—Mike White’s former pastry chef. The milk chocolate soufflé is life changing. Bon appetit!

For more information visit Crown’s website.