Word circulated this summer that John DeLucie would team up with the St. Regis Hotel to help revamp its storied King Cole Bar, and this week the Times confirms the news, while a rep for the 55th Street hotel sends a release with more details.
Here's what you should expect: First up, the place is getting a new name, sorta. When the space is unveiled in November after an expansion and renovation, it will be rechristened the King Cole Bar & Salon. Maxfield Parrish's Old King Cole mural will still be above the bar, but, per the release, the new décor will "draw inspiration from the jazz lounges of the 1920s with an upscale speakeasy vibe, sumptuous seating and a dramatically designed open fireplace."
Here's how DeLucie is involved: He'll create "a dynamic epicurean experience for New York's social elite and a new generation of luxury travelers." How will he do that? Here, again from the release, is what you can expect on the food front:
Masterfully combining the freshest seasonal ingredients, the menu will feature contemporary American cuisine with an international twist, reflecting the cultural mix that is New York City. The new King Cole Bar & Salon will offer a tailored selection of small plates including a unique seafood platter featuring individually composed bites of fresh oysters, clams, lobster and caviar, recreating a classic specialty from the hotel’s early days. For heartier fare, a Borollo-braised short rib with celery root puree served alongside grilled ciabatta and a savory au jus designed for dipping. Chef DeLucie will also introduce his signature truffled mac-and-cheese, a perfect pairing for The King Cole Bar’s legendary Red Snapper.
DeLucie's historical revamps have, of course, been met with what you might call lukewarm reactions. Adam Platt said of Crown on East 81st Street that it looks "like a Broadway set designer’s idea of what a grand New York restaurant ought to be." However, Bill's, DeLucie's revamp of the Bill's Gay Nineties space, was generally met with a poor reception after opening last fall, including zero stars from Platt.
But, depending on how you feel about DeLucie teaming up with a hotel bar known for $22 Bloody Marys, this fit either makes perfect sense or it's just another historic NYC location that will lose some of its charm in the process of trying to update for the times. The place will probably never be able to re-create the glory days when Salvador Dalí and his ocelot used to show up every Sunday.