Augustine…and the return of downtown NYC

Downtown NYC has changed a lot over the past decade as it has rebuilt itself in the aftermath of 9/11.  The city as a whole is a very different place but it is Brooklyn and downtown NYC that rules the roost in regards to transformation.

imgres-1The Beekman Hotel, the new hub for Keith McNally’s new restaurant Augustine and Tom Collichio’s Fowler and Wells, was built in the 19th Century.  It has remained vacant for much of its life which serendipitously ended up preserving the original atrium of the building.  I saw this building years ago when it was on the market to buy.  I was blown away how beautiful it was.  The good news is that the owners renovated vs destroyed.  It is really wonderful.

fowlsWe walked into Fowler and Wells when we arrived.  The place was packed!  The main room has a long bar on the right and the entire room is filled with comfortable sofas.  Really loved the vibe and design.  The dining room is separate but you can eat in the bar.  Will return for a bite.

imgresWe were dining at Augustine.  If you close your eyes you might think you are in Paris but no you are in a Keith McNally restaurant.  He knows what he knows and he gets it right.  The one thing that rang loud and clear is that the man knows how to run a restaurant.  Only open a few weeks and the staff hums.  Sat down at the right time, the food came out timely and it just works.  I would have thought they had been open for a year.

caviarpuffsSo how is the food?  It is what you would expect.  Not many OMG’s but quite good and he gets the vibe.  Reminds me of Pastis in the good old days.  We split everything and that worked.  A nice gougeres sliced in half and stuff with creme and caviar.  Not a bad way to start a meal.

cheesesouffleWe started with the souffle au fromage.  Quite good with a little horseradish dipping on the side.  How can multiple melted cheeses be bad?

crabavacadoAvocado, crab, grapefruit and hearts of palm salad.  Simple.

tunasaladBlue fin tuna with anchovies, Meyer lemon, cherry tomatoes and nicoise olives.  The souffle was the best thing of the bunch.

knifeI love when they bring over the big knife for the steak you are about to indulge in.

meatPorterhouse for 2.  It is really 3.  This is what you go for here.  Steak and fries.  He knows how to do it well.

sidesCreamed spinach and citrus glazed carrots are nice for the side.

duckTried the duck too.  Duck a la orange with turnips and greens.

friesFries are key.

peardessertDessert of course.  Mille-Feuilles with poached pears and prunes.

chocolateDark chocolate terrine.

We had a great time.  Makes me pine for Paris.  Love the atmosphere more than anything else.  Saw many people we knew too.  It is a welcome addition to the Financial District of NYC.