Image by Ron Haviv
If you so desired, you could have a little fun with it, viewing it as something of a celebrity restaurateur showdown. Indeed, Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally both opening restaurants in the same hotel within a couple of weeks is as major as it gets in the food world. The former’s Fowler & Wells has been since lat month offering up unfussy, slightly modernized American classics – leaving the Beekman‘s historic interiors to do most of the dazzling.
Now McNally has arrived in the buzzy new Financial District hotel doing precisely what he does better than anyone else in the American restaurant biz: orchestrating a truly transporting French experience, from the bistro chairs to the distressed mirrors to the zinc bar to the retro pendant lamps. But what Augustine (for the record, we’re choosing to believe there’s a genuine significance to it sharing a name with the Roman Christian philosopher who gave us “priestly celibacy”) does best of all is whisk you off to La France via a menu (courtesy of Executive Chefs Shane McBride and Daniel Parilla) of perfectly realized saucisson en brioche, souffle au fromage, cassoulet de lapin and a tightly curated selection of wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace and The Loire.
Images 1 & 2 by Ron Haviv, Image 3 by Harry McNally
Of course, this comes close in the wake of the shocking demise of McNally’s beloved Pastis. But where that restaurant’s Meatpacking District localed meant that on any given day Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Sienna Miller and Marc Jacobs could be found dining amidst tables of lettuce-flicking model types, Augustine’s FiDi location (and its slotting into a trendy new hotel) means an international jet-set will likely be jostling for tables with Downtown financial power types.
Either way, expect great theater, and even better steak tartare.