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While we're devoted to the Upper East Side for countless reasons--museums, Bemelmans cocktails, Ralph Lauren boutiques--we have to admit, the food scene has become a bit stale.

That's about to change with Crown, John DeLucie's dazzling new restaurant tucked away on a picturesque block just steps from the Met.

DeLucie, who hails from The Waverly Inn and The Lion, brings his old-New-York aesthetic to the townhouse-turned-eatery with framed charcoal sketches, dimly lit rooms and cozy banquettes.

The menu blends decadent dishes like chicken-liver pâté with lavender marmalade ($16) and chilled scallops and lobster topped with mint leaves ($21) with beautifully plated comfort foods like roast chicken with caramelized onions ($27) and seared halibut in vermouth sauce ($36).

While dinner hours afford unrivaled people-watching, be prepared to navigate the sea of town cars parked outside. We prefer stopping by in the afternoon, when the restaurant is free of crowds--save a few ladies who lunch--and when you can truly appreciate the glass-ceilinged dining room.

Speaking of dessert, don't skip the fig cake, topped with a spoonful of chocolate mousse, or the "apple degustation," a cider doughnut and candied apple served with spiced-cream-cheese ice cream.

Crown, 24 E. 81st St. (between Madison and Fifth aves.); 646-559-4880 or crown81.com

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