My foodar was amped up on my return from Europe.
I had read about Augustine, another Keith McNally auspicious restaurant opening in the FiDi district.
The area is usually not one of my prime destinations.
We were suffering from agonizing jet lag so Sunday we hit the #2 train at 9am.
The ride was fast and, thankfully, very few straphangers.
We disembarked at Fulton Street and I had no idea where I was.
Google maps told me I was 4 minutes away so we strolled down the narrow streets named Nassau and Beekman and lo and behold a phoenix rose from the ashes.
The luxe Beekman Hotel is stunning. The hotel-condo conversion of a landmarked 1880s office building with architecturally preserved details and a soaring nine-floor atrium, beckoned us in.
We followed the restaurant signs as the hotel houses two big names in the restaurant world, McNally and Colicchio.
I was more drawn to Augustine than Fowler & Wells.
Augustine started brunch service last Sunday so it was auspicious timing.
The entrance from the lobby was closed.
I opened the door to a Parisienne wonderland.
Was the jet lag that bad that I had only dreamed about flying home?
The french brasserie interior is gorgeous.
McNally has teamed with long-time collaborators, architect Richard Lewis and co-designer Ian McPheely.
They furnished the 90-seat establishment with brown banquettes, vintage mirrors and Art Nouveau tile.
The usual McNally attention to detail is evident.
This is Keith McNally’s 14th New York City restaurant.
The empire includes Minetta Tavern, Cherche Midi, Schiller’s, Balthazar, Morandi, Lucky Strike and the soon to be resurrected, Pastis.
We were warmly greeted and immediately seated.
Arnold, the animated master of ceremony, made us feel welcome as he exuded warmth and excitement. Previously, he ran the house at Minetta Tavern.
Our french server, Melanie, had moved from France to Miami for law school and then on to New York. She is smart, gracious and lovely.
The kitchen is helmed by Daniel Parilla and Shane McBride, the chefs that also run the show at McNally’s Cherche Midi on The Bowery.
McBride is a veteran of Colicchio and Charlie Palmer kitchens. Parilla cooked at Café Boulud and Bouley in New York. A 10-day trip to Europe and almost two years were invested in nailing down the extensive menu.
The menu is outstanding. If it wasn’t 10am, I would have had a go at the hamburger or uni spaghetti.
We opted for three shared courses.
We started with double espressos and the Soufflé Fromage which was fabulous…light, airy with a memorable horseradish sauce ($19).
We followed that with Egg In A Hole with smoked salmon, arugula, the eggs layered over delicious french bread ($17).
The piece de resistance were the Ricotta Pancakes with blueberry preserves. The pancakes were crispy along the edges and the hint of citrus along with the compote was exquisite ($17).
By the time we left, the restaurant was in full swing.
Afterwards, we wandered the South Street Seaport and strolled on through Tribeca, SoHo and the west village on an incredibly gorgeous Sunday in December.
The perfect day was mired by a hideous display of incompetent football by the NY Giants against the Pittsburg Steelers…so much for stepping up for the BIG game.
McNally named Augustine after the fourth-century Christian theologian and philosopher. Besides being the patron saint of brewers and printers, Augustine also had a hand in formulating the doctrine of original sin.
Breaking delicious bread at Augustine on Sunday was appropriate as my original sin is my unwavering love for the NY Giants.
At least I experienced great satisfaction at Augustine.
Put Augustine on your Bucket List and enjoy a sinfully delectable meal.
Augustine 5 Beekman Open for Dinner Monday-Thursday 5:30-11pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30-midnight, Sunday 5:30-10pm. Lunch daily, Brunch Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10am. Breakfast service begins January 3rd.