- scene: Blink and you are in Paris
- sip: Any crafted cocktail, wine, etc...
- savor: Cheese soufflé; crab salad; burger, uni spaghetti
- sit: With a date you want to impress; with another fun couple; with a girl friend for some quality time over wine and fries
- spend: $$$
- address: 5 Beekman Street
- phone number: 212-375-0010
- website: http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/the-beekman
It’s been a while since I have been out and about with the beautiful people on a Monday night, and to be honest it felt fantastic. I air-kissed and smiled my way through several unexpected run ins with old friends at the Beekman, and I enjoyed every minute it. The Beekman is one of the most talked about openings in New York City this Fall, and from what I experienced, every ounce of hype is earned, especially where design is concerned. As you may know, Husband is hype-adverse, but the lack of attitude and pretense at the Beekman won him over as well; also, there is a lot to be said for a whiskey neat in a hefty, carved glass.
The Beekman is a Thompson Hotel, deep downtown on Beekman Street (not to be confused with precious Beekman Place, which is in midtown and unlikely to see a new hotel any time soon). There are two restaurants in the Beekman, Fowler & Wells, which is helmed byTom Collichio, and is affiliated with the hotel, and the Keith McNally creation Augustine, which is more of a tenant and does not provide room service, etc.
We first had a drink at Fowler and Wells, which is one of the best looking rooms I have seen in a while; everything detail is carefully articulated, but stops just short of feeling Disneyian. Fowler & Wells and Augustine are separated by a door, and it is impressive how perfectly the vibes of each restaurant match their designated themes, the door a virtual porthole between two different worlds. Fowler & Wells feels like a proper vintage cocktail lounge, with plush seating, jazz, and retro classic cocktails. Augustine is Paris-lite.
It is hard not to be smacked in the face with a bout of nostalgia for Pastis when you walk into Augustine, with the amber lighting, large bar, and chic women eating frites. The managerial staff at Augustine was superb- proactive, accommodating and friendly; we watched them politely turn people away several times. Our waitress was a bit dizzy but effective, no complaints there either. We were seated in the front bar area, which did not thrill me at first, but it was good people watching and a bit of a relief from the slightly more cramped back room. The bench seating was a little hard on my tush, but there was wine for that.
Bottom line: The food is as good as it needs to be. Short of the cheese soufflé, there was nothing on the menu that tickled us as being new or novel or much different from another McNally menu, but everything we ate we enjoyed. We had heard good things about the crab salad, which was properly light and fresh, punched up by a healthy hit of citrus, which I love. The oysters were mehhh, not worth much tummy real estate, which would be better occupied by the aforementioned cheese soufflé, served with a horseradish sauce. Do not get too excited and pour the sauce into the center of the dish, like you would do with a creme anglaise with a chocolate souffle, but rather save it for dipping at your own discretion. Also- the bread basket is a thing of beauty, and the complimentary grougeres with caviar are the ideal way to start a meal.
Our main courses were all about the meat; our table saw a burger, two orders of steak au poivre and the lamb (there is always one in every group). The lamb was lacking in presentation, with some oily veggies and undercooked beans, but the meat was well seasoned and cooked properly. The steak au poivre was simple and straight forward, and everything is better with McNally’s fries to soak up the sauce. The burger is a looker, and the caramelized onions may recall the Black Label Burger from Minetta Tavern, but these onions are braised in single malt scotch. The burger is topped with comté and accompanied by fries and a shot of whiskey, which is either to hammer home the scotch flavors or make it easier to stomach a $26 burger.
Friends stopped by our table and insisted we try the uni spaghetti, which was tasty, the salty brininess cutting through the fattiness of the meat dishes that we were devouring.
The chocolate dessert was a perfect ending to our meal, and our Monday. The lighting in Augustine, especially when supplemented by the glorious haze that can only be brought on by red wine, great food and fun friends, makes everyone look sexy and glamorous, which is exactly what we all need this winter.