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Saturday
May142011

Desmond's

Note: Desmond’s closed in July 2012. What were originally described as mere “renovations” turned out—as is so often the case—to be permanent. The space is now a gastropub called Brinkley’s Station.

*

Suppose you’re teleported into the dining room of a random restaurant. Could you take one look, and guess what neighborhood you’re in?

If it’s Desmond’s, you probably can: the Upper East Side. Situated in a gorgeous alabaster neoclassical townhouse that was once a bank, and later a design studio, the room makes an instant impression, with a soaring double-height ceiling, skylight, and a witty modern-art chandelier.

Comfortable banquettes line either side, with white tablecloths and pineapple-shaped silver lamps on each table. It has the same clubby look as other successful places in the neighborhood, like David Burke Townhouse and The Mark by Jean Georges. (See the slideshow at nymag.com.)

This is the first solo venture for the chef and co-owner, David Hart, who was previously at Soho House and Claridge’s in London. The place opened quietly in early March, with little notice in the usual media sources and no professional reviews to date.

According to Eater.com, the opening press release described Desmond’s as “suave and clubby”; Time Out calls it a “supper club,” a term likely to repulse more diners than it attracts. As far as I can tell, it’s simply a restaurant, albeit one that the downtown crowd will probably not find very appealing.

If you’re more broad-minded than that, Desmond’s is an easy restaurant to like. It’s a beautiful space, service is just fine, and if the menu strikes you as unadventurous, at least it is executed well, and fairly priced for the neighborhood, with appetizers and salads $11–18, entrées $22–34, side dishes $9.

We were there late on a Friday evening and ordered only entrées. Crab Risotto ($29; above left) was wonderful. Double-cut Lamb Chops ($34; above right) with mint sauce were tender and flavorful. There was no bread service.

Tables are rather close together, and even with the restaurant less than half full at 10:00 p.m., it was a shade on the noisy side. I am not sure I would want to be there at prime time. There is a mezzanine with just a few tables that looks to be a bit quieter.

The proffer at Desmond’s falls a bit short of destination cuisine, but there are never too many refined, dependable restaurants, and this one delivers on its promise with considerable charm.

Desmond’s (153 E. 60th Street between Lexington & Third Avenues, Upper East Side)

Food: *½
Service: **
Ambiance: *½
Overall: *½

Reader Comments (2)

Having eaten at Desmond's twice now I can tell you its well worth a visit, The staff are young & pretty and while the service is more downtown than USE its more than passable. The menu straight forwards but cooked well i also had the crab risotto which was light and tasty and my hushand went for the halibut again very good. Overall a hit but not cheap and the music was to loud and uninteresting , make the tables larger and turn the music down and I'll be back.

May 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEastside foodie

I've been to Desmond's a hand full of times, the service is good and the food well seasoned and tasty. I wish the chef would be more wild with dishes when they first opened he was doing Veal cheeks which were perfect and now it seems they are toning the menu down.... Come on chef show us your skills and think out side the box.

On the downside the music is to loud and many of my friend will not return and the lighting is to dark, It feels like their trying to be a meat packing restaurant on the upper east side, guy's understand this will not work and you will close your doors by the new year.

Turn the lights up, the music down and play more with the food.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterUES foodie

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