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The Carlyle Reignites Its Restaurant With Burning Nostalgia and Flaming Sundaes

Former 21 Club chef Sylvain Delpique is heading up the storied hotel’s restaurant reboot

An ornate dining room decorated with paintings, chandelier, chairs, tables, and big mirror on one wall.
Dowling’s at the Carlyle is filled with mid-19th century nostalgia.
Alex Staniloff/Dowling’s at the Carlyle

After a 19-month closure, the restaurant attached to the storied Carlyle Hotel — a New York institution for decades — is back in business.

The Upper East Side hotel, located at 35 East 76th Street, near Madison Avenue, first opened nearly a century ago in 1930. It temporarily closed due to the pandemic, and though it reopened in November 2020, and its famed Bemelmans Bar followed in May, the main restaurant, formerly known as simply the Carlyle, has stayed shuttered. On October 12, it is finally reopening with a new name, a new chef, and a new, highly interactive menu.

Dowling’s at the Carlyle — named for Robert Whittle Dowling, an urban planner who acquired the hotel in the 1940s — is all about mid-19th century nostalgia. It is helmed by Sylvain Delpique, the former executive chef at the legendary, now-shuttered 21 Club. The atmosphere in the 80-seat room, and many of the new dishes, are a nod to throwback Manhattan fine dining traditions in the 1930s and 1940s, with Dover sole and salt-crusted branzino filleted tableside. A flambe station adds dramatic flair to dishes like steak Diane, set on fire with a pour of cognac; and a flaming Grand Marnier sundae.

A chef pours cognac into a frying pan with steak, lighting it on fire.
Steak Diane.
Alex Staniloff/Dowling’s at the Carlyle

A “butcher’s cut” section of the menu includes three cuts of steak alongside roast chicken. A pumpkin ricotta raviolo in hazelnut sage butter, containing egg yolk that bursts in diners’s mouths upon contact, is Delpique’s play on a much-lauded favorite at now-defunct Manhattan fine dining spot San Domenico. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a carving station for prime rib — a weekend brunch highlight.

“We are bringing back dishes that might have been forgotten,” says Delpique. “And there is a lot of interaction with guests, which is something many places don’t do anymore.” Under Delpique’s watch, the restaurant is making everything in-house now, from the bread to the smoked salmon, and foie gras terrine.

Five dishes on colorful plates are laid out on a table with wine glasses set in between.
A spread of dishes from Dowling’s at the Carlyle.
Alex Staniloff/Dowling’s at the Carlyle

The hotel with its adjoining restaurant, cafe, and bar is a NYC celebrity hotspot, having hosted such bold-faced names as Tom Cruise, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Anthony Bourdain, Lenny Kravitz, Princess Diana, and — just last month — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Controversial filmmaker Woody Allen has not only featured the hotel in his movies, but he has regularly performed with a jazz band at Cafe Carlyle on Monday nights. Prints and paintings from Ludwig Bemelmans adorn the walls in both the bar and — in a special addition for the reopening — the restaurant, too.

Dowling’s at the Carlyle is open daily from 7 to 10:30 a.m.; 12 to 2 p.m.; and 6 to 10 p.m. The restaurant is open on Friday and Saturday until 10:30 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are available via Tock.