Daniel Boulud Opens Le Gratin at The Beekman Hotel
Images by Bill Milne
It makes our head spin a bit to realize it was nearly eight years ago that we first reported on what were to be the gastronomic goings on at the future and fabulous hotel The Beekman, in New York’s not exactly trendy Financial District. To be sure, the dueling star power of legendary restaurateur Keith McNally and celeb chef Tom Colicchio promised to bring Gotham’s epicurean trend chasers face to face with Wall Street big spenders. The hotel and restaurants officially opened their collective doors in August of 2016, with all three being showered with high praise.
Colicchio still lords over the hotel’s Temple Court. But Mr. McNally tragically suffered a debilitating stroke in 2017, forcing him to withdraw from the frontline running of his hospitality empire. But the latter’s Augustine restaurant remained such a sublime representation of his ethos (French food New York style, evocative design, with the famous and fabulous contentedly sitting side by side with the merely mortal), that it continued to be wildly popular, until COVID finally shut it down in 2020.
But now the many Michelin-starred Daniel Boulud has taken over the space, and his new Le Gratin is surely the most casual he’s ever allowed himself to be. The French culinary master grew up in Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, just about 30 km from the gastronomic holy land of Lyon – and here he brings the best of its traditions to 5 Beekman Street, 3800 miles away.
“Le Gratin is a special name for me,” he enthuses, “reminding me of many symbolic dishes from my childhood, overflowing with love and soul. It also connects me with the traditional bistros and bouchons of my hometown, with a menu inspired by some of the classic Lyonnaise cuisine.”
He also promises to recreate the homey ambiance and inviting service of those same bouchons, which is not an easy thing to pull off down in the high-expectations reaches of Stock-Market-Ville-NYC.
It also means proffering elevated versions of French working man’s (travailleur) cuisine to sophisticated Gotham palettes. Though we honestly can think of few things we would rather dine out on in the big city than the likes of Crabe Marie Rose, Moules Frites Sauce Poulette, Pâté en Croûte Gourmand, Steak Tartare A La Parisienne, Magret de Canard au Poivre Vert, or Côte de Bœuf Grillée au Romarin with a generous helping of calorie-packed béarnaise – all of which appear on Le Gratin’s copious and quite authentic menu. DB is even serving his mom’s (surely famous) Gratin Dauphinois Comme Marie cheesy and creamy potato gratin, for that special family touch.
The striking interiors, complete with traditional bistro chairs, painted coffered ceiling, and Art Nouveau style globe chandeliers, remain essentially intact. It’s almost enough to make you feel as if you’ve been whisked off to somewhere in the Vieux Lyon, save for everyone talking about their stock portfolios and the latest episode of Succession.
So yes, this is the perfect Daniel Boulud restaurant for these anxious times, one born of the cherished memories of youth, cozy and comforting, but just fab enough to remind you that it is truly a product of the contemporary DB ethos. And honestly, even though we may in fact be willing to travel those 3800 miles for a really good Pâté de Campagne au Poivre Vert, the arrival of Le Gratin certainly makes it all a lot easier.