Pork chop with garlicky clams and chorizo (Image: David Burke Hospitality Management)

When we are children, we are told not to play with our food. I’m guessing that young David Burke ignored that dictum. In fact, the chef and restaurateur has never stopped playing with his food, judging from the menu at his latest creation, Park Ave Kitchen by David Burke. How many other restaurants can you name that offer blowtorch-cooked bacon on a clothesline or a chocolate cake pop tree with bubble gum whipped cream? Actually, you can name several, but they are also owned by David Burke.

Park Ave Kitchen, which bills itself as a “modern American” restaurant, is actually two eateries in one, each with its own distinct personality and entrance. The more formal of the two is an inviting 106-seat brasserie with walls tiled in a geometric pattern or constructed of warm backlit pink Himalayan salt. Seating is on plush brown leather booths and banquettes or green velvet chairs.

Among his other pursuits, David Burke is an art collector, and you will find whimsical expressions of this passion — a Humpty Dumpty cast in bronze, a vintage electric blue “baby” Bugatti pedal car — tucked into nooks in the windows. A life-size maître d’ fashioned from driftwood holds court at the host stand.

Locate your own inner child by ordering a crock of tomato soup au gratin, a velvety basil-perfumed bisque under a blanket of browned and bubbly Gruyère rimmed by a hieroglyph of alphabet pasta. For many, the dish will conjure up memories of tomato soup and grilled cheese, though associations with French onion soup are also plausible.

Tomato soup au gratin with melted Gruyère, croutons, alphabets, basil (Image: David Burke Hospitality Management)

For something decidedly more grownup, consider salty planks of bright orange smoked salmon joined on a length of flatbread by horseradish, ricotta, pickled onions, capers, and avocado — a stimulating starter. Rock shrimp “cooked” by coconut leche de tigre are the central player in a brightly acidic ceviche that also includes shaved onion, avocado, and wisps of heirloom tomato.

Smoked salmon flatbread (Image: Howard Portnoy)

Assiduously browned sea scallops and butternut squash-filled ravioli glisten under a perky pesto of pumpkin seeds and watercress. The dish is dotted for a little intrigue by pickled blackberries.

Sea scallops with butternut squash ravioli (Image: Howard Portnoy)

A tender two-inch-thick knob of juicy pork reaches the table harpooned by a fish fork that has also speared a half dozen littlenecks intensely perfumed with garlic. The two proteins recline in a lemony broth studded with crispy disks of peppery chorizo and tiny pasta rings. I heartily recommend the dish, but if you order it, plan to get messy.

A couple ladles full of creamy jack cheese polenta form the foundation of another meaty production, this one starring slow-braised bison short ribs. The production is augmented by a couple of fried squash rings and a moat of BBQ essence spiked with strong coffee.

Bison short ribs (Image: David Burke Hospitality Management)

If you prefer beef as your red meat, the house offers several steaks, the most notable of which is a 40-ounce tomahawk for two. The monstrous slab of beef is delivered swinging from a crossbar — which, when you think about it, is what any good tomahawk ought to do.

Desserts lean heavily in the direction of chocolate and the menu even delivers a couple musings on the dark stuff by the likes of “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz. Among the offerings in this category is the afore-mentioned chocolate cake pop tree. There is also a very rich confection styled the “tiny dancer triple chocolate mousse cake,” so named because a pair of shapely cookie legs rise from the confection. The sweet presents a dilemma you probably haven’t found yourself on the horns of for many years — namely, do you eat the legs first or last? A generous slab of tangy Key lime pie is served with golden berries.

Not so humble “Key lime” pie (Image: David Burke Hospitality Management)

The less formal half of Park Ave Kitchen alluded to earlier is a 50-seat self-serve European-style café designed for grab-n-go or, if you are so inclined, grab-n-stay. It is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From Monday through Friday, the café offers a three-course “Line and Dine” dinner for $33.99, gratuities not expected. Main courses include steak frites with maître d’ butter and unlimited herbed fries, which are served to you in a church collection basket. Did I neglect to mention that David Burke is an ordained minister?

Price range (in the brasserie): $17 to $30 for appetizers, $33 to $56 for main dishes, and $12 to $14 for dessert.

Park Ave Kitchen by David Burke, 514 Lexington Avenue (at 48th St.), 646-847-4166, is open seven days from 7 a.m. to midnight.

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