Restaurateur Keith McNally’s latest venture is set to be as sainted as his legendary Balthazar.
When Augustine opened this past winter, the timing could not have been more ideal. Located in the renovated Beekman hotel in Manhattan’s Financial District, the Francophile restaurant is entirely in sync with a recent rise in the popularity of classic French cooking. But that was to be expected. Restaurateur Keith McNally has been opening Left Bank–worthy brasseries across New York for decades, from Balthazar to Pastis, and Augustine (augustineny.com) is the ultimate expression of his expertise. The setting—mosaic and art nouveau tiles, distressed mirrors, wrought-iron chandeliers, leather banquettes, and a burnished gold ceiling that glows—feels distinctly upscale bistro. The menu is a master class in French technique perfected. Executive chefs Shane McBride and Daniel Parilla call their leg of lamb and duck à l’orange—each slice of bird seamed by a golden ribbon of crispy skin—house favorites. But you won’t want to miss the cheese soufflé, an airy cloud of Gruyère, Parmesan, and horseradish fondue; or the refreshing avocado-and-crab salad enlivened by a grapefruit vinaigrette. For dessert, the textbook tarte Tatin is proof enough that the French table, and McNally’s passion, will never go out of fashion.