If you’re wondering what your Fridays have been missing lately, we have two words for you: martini lunch. The Don Draper-esque concept is making a comeback at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel‘s newly debuted restaurant, Dowling’s.To seamlessly meld with the atmosphere of the iconic Madison Avenue hotel, the new space is meant to evoke ’30s and ’40s glamour, which it does thanks to the meticulously curated art covering the walls from floor to chandelier-adorned ceiling. Some of the standout pieces, all selected by creative director William Paley and won at auction or poached from various collections throughout the city, include five recently acquired Ludwig Bemelmans prints — an homage to the famous bar next door — and paintings from local New York artists, like abstract work by Federico de Francesco. The artwork benefits from a striking backdrop, too — dark wood-paneled walls fragmented by sconces and mirrors that bring light to the restaurant’s sophisticated, bordering-on-sultry color palette.
And just when you think the mood couldn’t possibly get more Old World Madison Avenue, they offer you a martini at lunch. Not just any martini — a mini-martini, served in the daintiest possible glassware, so that you can dip your toe into the boozy lunches of the Upper East Side’s past (or, hey, present) while still preserving your final bits of post-lunch productivity.
The Carlyle is already known for its upscale, steeped-in-history Bemelmans Bar, which has a 75-year legacy on the Upper East Side, as well as live piano a few days a week. And while Dowling’s is certainly a newcomer in comparison, the cocktail prowess from next door carries over — with an impressive display of Manhattans, negronis, and of course, mini-martinis. Guests aren’t just here for the cocktails — regular-sized or miniature — but for the retro sophistication and culinary gravitas served up at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The restaurant is helmed by chef Sylvain Delpique, whose menu is packed with European-influenced decadence as well as NYC classics — from a croque monsieur or steak tartare to truffle eggs benedict and house-smoked salmon — and ultimately normalizes feasting on Wagyu skirt steak at 1 p.m.
The opening of Dowling’s is not only momentous for the martini-loving crowd, it marks the end of The Carlyle’s years-long renovation. Their refresh has brought in new suites and guest rooms, and the recently opened fine dining restaurant is the grand finale — though grand might be an understatement.