Cornelius Gallagher made his name as chef at the original Oceana and left in 2006, hoping to parlay terrific reviews into a place of his own. Thanks to the recession and a Nolita space that fell through, it’s taken six years, which Gallagher spent in a catering kitchen and overseeing a Long Island restaurant group. He’s finally landed on the Upper East Side as chef-owner of Dragonfly, his personal riff on the Asian flavors he first encountered cooking at Lespinasse and later explored firsthand in Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.
They’ll show up in dishes like snapper ceviche with tangerine and red curry, Thai beef cheeks with spiced tomato and toasted bread crumbs, and huckleberry cheesecake with Saigon-cinnamon streusel. The onetime Arriba Arriba space has been given a Colonial Vietnam-inspired renovation, which features a cleaver mounted on the front door, and the bar will dispense thematic cocktails like a Saigon Crush, with passion fruit and yuzu. Here’s a look at some of the dishes, which Gallagher thinks of as Asian-American rather than pan-Asian.
Dragonfly, 1463 Third Ave., nr. 83rd St.; 212-203-5518