As we enter the new Beekman Hotel part of the Thompson Hotel Group, we feel like we have dropped into the sets of a movie from the Mad Men era. The Beekman with its jaw dropping architectural detail, is located in a historic building dating back to 1883. “WOW”, was all I could come up with as we stood in the dramatic lobby and stared up at the iconic nine story atrium. Located in the heart of the financial district in downtown Manhattan, the building boasts a diverse and rich history.
The lobby bar at the entrance of the hotel creates a romantic library setting, which is very emblematic, as the site(Temple Court) was once home to the NYC theatrical debut of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and was also known as a space where writers like Edgar Allen Poe refined their writing. The dimly lit bar/lounge takes you into old world New York with soft jazz playing in the background, combined with an eclectic mix of upholstery of rich velvets and plush leathers. Hand painted portraits flank the walls and book cases line the periphery of the lounge. Luscious period cocktails line the tables and bar.
The first of two restaurants to open in this historic space is Tom Colicchio’s most highly anticipated venture of the year, Fowler & Wells. Tom Colicchio, celebrity restaurateur and judge on “Top Chef” needs no introduction in the culinary world. The restaurant name Fowler & Wells, gets its inspiration from two phrenologist(Mr. Fowler & Mr. Wells), who practiced the pseudoscience of studying shapes of the head to determine personality traits. Gasping another “WOW”, as we walked through lush velvet curtains, and entered this gorgeous 90 seat restaurant. The dining space is long and narrow with high ceilings. The room exudes old world charm with its simple and elegant lighting, jewel toned stained glass art and dusky brass mirrors, all combined with a new world industrial vibe with exposed bricks and open ducts.
By now you are getting a sense of the rich New York history, architectural significance, and the beauty of the space, which are all factors that Tom Colicchio wanted to exemplify when creating the menu. Many chefs design a menu and then create a space that works for the cuisine. With Fowler & Wells, Colicchio worked backwards, as he devised a menu to represent the history of the building. Colicchio created a classically indulgent menu, with dishes reminiscent of old world New York City, like Beef Wellington, Oysters Rockefeller, and Lobster Thermidor, to represent the history of the building. The opulent menu is classically New York with intricate French techniques and fresh Italian ingredients. My favorite appetizers were the Chestnut Agnolotti with Celery Root and Black Truffles and Sautéed Foie Gras with Persimmon and Bitter Greens. For the main course, the Loin of Lamb with Niçoise Olives and Swiss Chard, was perfectly moist, tender and delectable.
The food was decadently delicious and service was impeccable. The entree prices were slightly on the high side, but the alluring ambiance and the rich history of this quintessential New York building, more than make up for the price tag. So come downtown and check out the Beekman Hotel and Fowler & Wells. The hotel recently opened its second restaurant Augustine, the new Keith McNally French brasserie. With names like Colicchio & McNally, The Beekman Hotel is sure to become a hot culinary destination.
Fowler & Wells
Temple Court Building
5 Beekman Street
New York, NY 10038