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Kieth McNally Beekman Hotel FiDi

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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 09:38 PM

It's sort of a waste writing up Augustine.  Not only do you already know what it's going to be like, but you already know if you'll like it.

 

The room is like Cherche Midi in that it's a little brighter than the old McNally standard.  But I think this one's a little nicer.  It's lined with distressed floral tiles that are quite pretty.

 

The Executive Chefs are Shane McBride and Daniel Parilla, the same guys who took over Balthazar last year (was it?).  Probably because it's new and everybody's paying attention, the food is better than Balthazar, while not hitting the heights of Minetta Tavern during its Golden Days.  It's good solid bistro fare, and really hits the spot.

 

Well, as far as I can tell -- since, as you'll see below, I had the burger.

 

I walked in on a Wednesday around 15 minutes before their 11 PM closing time.  I asked tremulously if the kitchen was still open, and the hostess responded as if she couldn't understand why I was worried.

 

I had planned, of course, to eat at the bar.  But the bar was slammed.  So, much as I hate to do so, I accepted a table.  One of the very few tables available, I hasten to add:  late on a Wednesday, this place was hopping   (The bar started to empty about five minutes after I got there -- and they were still taking food orders.  So the play here may be to walk in at 10:50 PM instead of 10:45.)

 

It's interesting how things sort themselves out.  The average age of the people in the dining room of Fowler & Wells right next door seemed north even of my (new) age (my date -- who was doing her best to bring the average down but couldn't by herself -- asked why the menu was printed in such tiny type if everyone eating there was so old).  The average age of the diners at Augustine was a good 30 or 35 years younger.  The restaurant nevertheless played a typical Keith McNally playlist, seemingly composed for hipsters in their 60s, the high point Wednesday night being the Tim Rose version of "Hey Joe."

 

It was late, I'd spent the day writing, and I didn't want anything too big.  So I started with the "salt-baked" oysters (only three of them, I whine) with I guess you'd call it a Mignonette but with peppers and stuff in it.  Cooked oyster dishes can be risky, but this one was fine.

 

And then, instead of a substantive main course, the burger.  The burger here is topped with Compte and onions sauteed in whiskey.  I actually find cooking with whiskey to be another risk, in that the flavor is much more assertive than you think it's going to be.  Here, the accent was just right.  I didn't like the roll it was on, which was too hard.  Why people don't just stick with potato buns is a mystery to me.

 

Here's a curiosity:  in the run-up publicity to the opening of this place, it was explained that originally the burger was going to come with a shot of whiskey to complement the whiskey in the onions, but, we were told, that idea ultimately was nixed as imprudent.  Soon after my burger was delivered, which was also soon after Francois the bartender stopped by my table to say hi, a shot of whiskey appeared.  When I later thanked Francois for the shot, he said it came with the burger.  I wonder what's up.

 

Dessert was a roasted blood orange that could have had my name on it.

 

I loved this place.  But I would.  You know if you would, too.

 

COMP DISCLOSURE:  Maybe the shot.  But probably not.


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#2 rozrapp

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 10:50 PM

Yes, it's definitely a restaurant we'll love.  I was concerned that it would be a schlep for us to get there, but turns out it's an easy trip for us on the 6.  Looks as though you have to call for a reservation as it's not on OpenTable. 

 

By the way, while we've always enjoyed the food at Cherche Midi, I found the burger there disappointing.     



#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 10:53 PM

I would not want to try to get a reservation there at this point.

 

ETA -- Well, you guys like eating early.


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#4 rozrapp

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 11:34 PM

I would not want to try to get a reservation there at this point.
 
ETA -- Well, you guys like eating early.


It's not that we "like" or prefer to eat early. We only do it when the situation warrants it. Actually, we more often reserve between 9 and 10 p.m.

#5 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 11:38 PM

Ah.


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#6 Sneakeater

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 04:00 AM

On the up side, there is almost no chance you won't enjoy it.
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#7 Neocon maudit

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 01:11 AM

Will I like it, Sneak? ^_^



#8 Sneakeater

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Posted 06 December 2016 - 01:29 AM

Absolutely you will.
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#9 Sneakeater

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Posted 05 January 2017 - 09:11 PM

The food here (right now, while everybody's paying attention) really is quite good.  I had a cheese souflee with horseradish cream, and an extremely tasty leg of lamb, with a side of citrus-drenched carrots, and more of that wonderful roasted blood orange for dessert.

 

But that's not the appeal of this place.  The appeal of this place, as my date said, is being in this nice, lively room with all these highly attractive people.

 

(And, of course, what Ryan Sutton quoted that other food writer as saying in his Eater review.)


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#10 Neocon maudit

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 08:02 PM

Absolutely you will.

 

Indeed, I liked it very much.



#11 Sneakeater

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 08:22 PM

You almost HAD to.  Not that we've ever met, but it is so clearly what you seem to like.


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#12 voyager

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 10:31 PM

....The appeal of this place, as my date said, is being in this nice, lively room with all these highly attractive people.

 

 

  :huh:     


<p>A tavola non s'invecchia.

#13 Suzanne F

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 02:39 AM

Paul is there right now by himself as a walk-in,* having (and I'll bet enjoying) the leg of lamb. Will have a fuller report anon.

 

ETA: He said the lamb was "nicely cooked." It came with flageolets and escarole. He also had a glass of St. Emilion that he enjoyed. And enjoyed the amuse of a caviar sandwich in gougère. The room was packed, but not noisy. Good to know. When I told him it was from the same guy as Balthazar, he said this was a better-looking place.

 

*He had a meeting this evening on Broad Street, so I suggested he eat at one of the places in the nabe. I ate by myself up here. He definitely won.


[B]ragging rights are a side effect of hype. -- Sneakeater, 4 January 2017 - 02:21 PM

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#14 Wilfrid

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 01:24 AM

I know this would be better than Boucherie (Pastis alum, McNally pastiche), but you do have to be down there for a reason.

I guess I made a special trip for that Cardoz opening...

#15 joethefoodie

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 02:33 PM

To conclude (at least the fancy-ish dining-out portion) a birthday/anniversary weekend (as if I can believe we've been married 19 years), we decided, on a whim, to walk down to Augustine and see what we could see.  At the least, I figured we'd be able to grab a drink in the lobby bar, or at Fowler & Wells, if Augustine was a zoo. And I wanted to see that lobby.

 

So Saturday night, around 6:15 - 6:30, was just right for us to grab 2 seats at the bar.  Smallish bar, I might add, with probably two too many of those ridiculously uncomfortable stools tucked in there, but after I rearranged some stuff, it was fine. And who doesn't recognize a bartender or two from the McNally empire  - in this case, guys I remembered from the era when Schiller's was in our regular neighborhood rotation.

 

No cocktails for us tonight, though it looked like they were certainly being prepared with more care than at Beatrice the night before - all sorts of Cocktail Kingdom stuff was on hand and being used - but we drank some wines by the glass, in an attempt to remain somewhat sober.

 

As related above, the food was quite good. Those salt-baked oysters (now 5!), were fine, if a little too meek and mild for my taste. And the French onion soup, this one a little creamy and served with 3 small cheesy toasts, was right up Sig Eater's alley. Our 2nd courses included the avocado/crab salad for she, and the steak frites for me, and while the avocado/crab salad was okay (I've had better crab, to be honest), the steak frites was actually damn good. A nice piece of beef (probably invented by LaFreida), straddling the line between chewy and tender, cooked as ordered, but I don't know what cut it was, and I'm still mad I didn't ask. The fries, as always, were great. For dessert, the tarte tatin hit the spot.

 

At 8:00 PM, as we were leaving, they were quoting waits of 30-45 minutes for bar stools (they keep a mental list, which I like), and while it appears to be the "policy" to seat people at the bar who are there to eat, they didn't have a problem seating two women who appeared to be there only to drink.

 

My guess is that during the week, this is a much different crowd.

 

As an aside, a few weeks ago a friend was visiting from California, and asked me where she might go (solo) for a good, hot NYC restaurant experience. I suggested Augustine. After about 45 minutes there, she sent me a text telling me she was in the wrong bar, as she mistakenly thought the Bar Room in the lobby of the hotel was Augustine's. I told her to look for a different entrance - indeed, there's a small door leading from the Bar Room into Augustine, as well as a separate outside entrance. She had a fine time at Augustine, and was well taken care of by the bartenders.

 

And the lobby of The Beekman - stunning.







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