Some New York hotels are far more than just a playground for locals or a home-away-from-home for visitors. These superior hotels offer much more: out-of-this-world dining experiences, unique decor and artwork, and unforgettable events. The Upper East Side’s epochal Carlyle Hotel, is one of those special places, that has a rich history and can offer a stay—whether for dinner or longer—with unparalelled service. Dowling’s at The Carlyle will treat you to a stay you will always remember.
The 35-story hotel was named after British essayist Thomas Carlyle and was designed by the architectural firm, Bien & Prince and was completed in 1930. A newspaper of that time described the design as a “diversified setback style,” which provides private terraces for certain guest rooms and suites. Despite the ever changing Manhattan skyline during the past 80 years, The Carlyle continues to be a key destination in the Upper East Side and continues to have a guest list consisting of major players. In the past, U.S. Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan considered The Carlyle Hotel their “unofficial” New York home. The Royal Highnesses, such as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, stayed at the hotel on their first visit to Manhattan in December 2014. Of course, you can’t forget celebrities such as Bono, Mariah Carey, Cyndi Lauper, Liza Minelli, Billy Joel and John Mayer making spontaneous appearances at the piano in the prominent Bemelmans Bar.
Hobnob had the opportunity to experience an extravagant evening at The Carlyle for a dinner at the newly opened Dowling’s—and some cocktails at the ever glamorous Bemelmans Bar. We took advantage of it being restaurant week, a twice-yearly event when more than 300 of New York City’s best restaurants offer a prix-fixe menu at a down to earth price.
Dowling’s is the latest space at The Carlyle and was named after Robert Whittle Dowling, who was the former owner of the hotel. Dowling was a well known urban planner who was recognized by his passionate efforts over half a century ago to revamp Manhattan. He took over the hotel in the 1940’s and was a major key to converting the hotel to the place it is nowadays, whilst placing it on the map as a glamorous place that drives celebrities, politicians, royalty, and tastemakers through its doors. Through Dowling’s fanciful vision, The Carlyle incorporates a clear-cut sense of place, offering a welcoming, intimate and universal atmosphere for New Yorkers and visitors alike.
The Carlyle opened this new restaurant honoring timeless dining, where decor is spotlighted with five newly acquired original Ludwig Bemelmans paintings. The menu at Dowling’s is brought to you by Executive Chef Sylvain Delpique, formerly of 21 Club, who curated a menu featuring his own contemporary interpretations of iconic New York favorites and throwback dishes from past eras. When arriving at Dowling’s, you are entering a chic and state of the art space where one will savor a taste of an American and European-style cuisine while offering memorable tableside preparations for your very eyes.
At Dowling’s, Restaurant Captain Charles Wojciechowski, took care of us for the night. He started us off with a warm buttery bread and a side of butter and hot lattes. As three of us attended dinner, we each ordered different courses to start, such as: a warm Lobster Bisque, a refreshing Chicory and Shaved Carrot Salad, and a House Made Smoked Salmon. All three starting courses were light and ideal, as we were ready to order the first course.
For main courses, we ordered two savory Steak Diane dishes, which consist of the steaks being flambéed with Cognac by Wojciechowski right in front of your very eyes and a side of whipped mashed potatoes. The other first course we ordered was the Faroe Island Salmon, which is a piece of salmon crusted with toasted parmesan and a side of fingerling potatoes with Cream of Sorrel. These first courses were comforting and mouthwatering, as we really wanted to go for seconds. Afterwards, we ordered the three different desserts available for the restaurant week menu: a creamy Creme Brulee, New York Style Cheesecake topped with a tart and sweet berry compote, and a rich and delectable chocolate tart with a scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream.
Cocktail bars are the rave nowadays, but this timeless cocktail bar is one of the locales that started it all. Many know Bemelmans as the sophisticated upscale piano bar decorated with notable murals of the children’s classic “Madeline” by Austrian-American writer and illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans. Bemelmans was commissioned by the hotel’s Managing Director in the mid 1940’s to paint the large-scale murals to portray all the four seasons of the year in Central Park.
Bemelmans Bar opened in 1947 and is a place where New York City’s best jazz pianists have graced the piano throughout its seventy-two-year history. The bar features live music seven-days-a week by favorite performers such as Emmy Award winning composer Earl Rose, Rob Mosci, Loston Harris, David Budway, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch. All of these performers have an aptitude for playing classics from the Great American Songbook, however, guests can also listen to songs from present-day artists as well.
The night we were there, the bar was packed as music by Rose flowed throughout the whole room and made the atmosphere at Bemelmans enjoyable as usual. While Rose entertained by playing the piano, patrons enjoyed their drinks and small bites.
After dinner, though we still sat at Dowling’s, our final cocktails were brought to us from Bemelmans and they were: two Classic Cosmopolitans and a glass of a Château Petit Vedrines 2007 dessert wine. This was one of the strongest Cosmopolitans I’ve ever sipped on and the dessert wine was perfect to have after all the desserts we had, as it’s ideal to pick a wine that’s sweeter than your dessert to avoid any bitter aftertaste.
Indeed, the night at The Carlyle was one to remember as well as to repeat. This is a perfect place to go out for a special dinner and drinks with your parents, a celebratory dinner, romantic date night with your partner, and a nightcap with the girls. Of course, you can’t forget that you’ll savor one of the most hospitable New York City experiences at The Carlyle and its venues. The Carlyle Hotel, known formally as The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, opened its doors in 1930. Since 2001, the hotel has been owned by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, as the Carlyle is a cooperative with 190 rental rooms and suites, and 60 privately owned residences.
The Carlyle Hotel, 35 E 76th St (betw Madison/Park Ave), Instagram: @rosewoodthecarlyle
Dowling’s at The Carlyle, 981 Madison Ave (SE corner 76th St ), Instagram: @dowlingsatthecarlyle
Bemelmans Bar, 35 E 76th St (betw Madison/Park Ave), Instagram: @bemelmansbar
See Hobnob’s post on other NYC CLASSIC RESTAURANTS.