Haute Dining at Keith McNally’s Augustine and Tom Colicchio’s Fowler & Wells

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THE NEW BEEKMAN PLACE

Keith McNally’s Augustine and Tom Colicchio’s Fowler & Wells up the buzzy vibe at the Beekman Hotel, a stylish landmark property in the Financial District.

Augustine Restaurant
The interior of Augustine. Photos: Courtesy of Augustine.

AUGUSTINE

Mastermind: Keith McNally is the legendary celebrity restaurateur responsible for some of New York’s best-known spots: Balthazar, Odeon, Minetta Tavern, and Cherche Midi. The New York Times once described him as “The Restaurateur Who Invented Downtown.”

The crowd: Downtown personalities, Uptown machers, newbie Goldman partners celebrating their promotions. McNally pal Anna Wintour has, of course, stopped by.

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Keith McNally, whom the New York Times once described as “The Restaurateur Who Invented Downtown.”

Décor: French Art Deco.

Cooking style: Haute bistro. According to co-executive chefs Shane McBride (a veteran of Aureole, Lespinasse, and Balthazar) and Daniel Parilla (Café Boulud, Bouley, Cherche Midi), the food at Augustine is the “most detailed” of what they’ve done for McNally. “We still have steak frites and the killer whiskey burger, but dishes like roasted squab ‘chartreuse’ and halibut en cocotte are much more involved,” says McBride.

Chef’s favorites: Cheese soufflé, leg of lamb. “Our steak program is pretty badass too,” says McBride. “Pat LaFreida is sending us some magical beef.”

Most popular dishes: Halibut en cocotte, the whiskey burger, steak frites, and duck à l’orange.

Vegetarians should order: The rotisserie vegetable pavé.

When you want to eat light: Go for the avocado and crab salad.

When you want to go decadent: Try the beef Porterhouse and the porchetta.

Sweet talk: McBride says guests have taken to the apple tarte tatin and the roasted blood oranges. He and Parilla like the baba au rhum. A bottle of Rhum Clement is left on the table “so diners can spike it a little more if desired,” he says.

Drink up: Specialty cocktails and classics; five choices of marti- nis; French and American wines.

Address: 5 Beekman Street.

For reservations: 212-375-0010 (up to 30 days in advance). Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Saturday and Sunday brunch; augustineny.com.

FOWLER & WELLS

Fowler & Wells mastermind: Culinary star Tom Colicchio, who founded Crafted Hospitality, the group behind such popular New York spots as Craft and Riverpark. He is also well known as the chief judge on Bravo’s Top Chef.

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The Bar Room at Fowler & Wells  Photos: Courtesy of Fowler & Wells

The crowd: Tribeca creative, Condé Nast execs, Hugh Jackman, and other Downtown celebs.

Décor: Luxe industrial chic meets 19th-century antiques. “It transports you back in time, but it’s not a stage set,” says Colicchio of the Martin Brudnizki–designed space.

Cooking style: Modern takes on New York classics. Look for 21st-century versions of lavish mainstays like lobster thermidor and duck à l’orange, which were popular when the Beekman Hotel was built. “The menu was really informed by the original space, as was the decor,” says Colicchio, who uses traditional recipes as starting points rather than literal road maps, then lowers the calories, reducing ingredients like butters and creams to suit more contemporary palates. “We completely lightened things up,” Colicchio explains. He says that while the cuisine is very much American, he returned to classic French techniques— “using reductions for sauces, as opposed to vinaigrettes, and going back to real stock work, which is integral to this type of cooking.” Look for a modern-classic presentation too. “You won’t find a puree swished across a dish, or microgreens anywhere,” he says.

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Tom Colicchio says the menu at Fowler & Wells was informed by the space, as was the decor.

Colicchio’s favorite: The updated sole Veronique, on the menu as dover sole with green grapes, spigarello, and verjus.

Most popular dishes: Anything with lobster.

Vegetarians should order: Chestnut agnolotti; the winter vegetable pot au feu.

When you want to eat light: Opt for the diver scallops (with a mix of vegetables and black truffles).

When you want to go decadent (or taste the full range of Colicchio’s “new-old” cooking): Try the tasting menu ($135 per person), which includes venison “Wellington” (the reimagined beef Wellington with chest- nuts, black trumpet mushrooms, and huckleberries); Belon Oysters (the new Oysters Rockefeller) served with water- cress, spinach, and bacon; and lobster with chanterelles and tarragon (the modern lobster thermidor).

Sweet talk: There are plenty of updates here too—a millefeuille with lemon and star anise; panna cotta with quince, maple, and walnuts; baked Alaska; and baba aurhum with cinnamon pastry cream.

Drink up: The wine list focuses on Old World offerings (e.g., expect a French rather than an Australian Syrah) and classic cocktails, along with updated versions of them, like the Old Fashioned made with mezcal.

Address: 5 Beekman Street.

For reservations: 212-658-1848. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; fowlerandwells.com.

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