by Serena Dai
Tom Colicchio's highly anticipated new restaurant in the Financial District's Beekman Hotel now has a name: Fowler and Wells. It's named after a couple of phrenologists — or pseudoscientists who studied the shape of the head as a basis for personality traits — who used to work in the building, Colicchio says, and it's just one aspect of the restaurant that's inspired by the property's history.
The food, too, will be inspired by the past. Fowler and Wells's menu will feature classic New York dishes that were popular at the turn of the century, with specials like lobster Thermidor and beef Wellington. It's more in line with what he was doing at the original Gramercy Tavern than at his later restaurant, Craft, Colicchio says — iconic American food, but with French technique.
The historic space demanded a menu that was more traditional, he explains. "For me, I always felt that the space should go hand-in-hand with the food," Colicchio says. "For some reason, when I look at what we've done design-wise, that's what it feels and wants. It doesn't want anything super modern." It will also have a robust cocktail menu with rotating specials each month, with spotlights on different spirits, also inspired by menus of the past.
The lounge, which seats about 70, is nestled at the bottom of a multi-story atrium of the hotel, an impressive space that will serve a more casual menu, Colicchio says. The 90-seat restaurant is slightly off to the side and will be more upscale, but it's still open to the atrium and will benefit from its historic vibes, he adds. He'll be serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the nearly 290-room hotel, where Keith McNally will also have a restaurant.
It's a big project for Colicchio, and so much of the restaurant's focus is on history because it's the landmarked building that convinced him to pursue it in the first place. He even hired the same person who designed the hotel to design the restaurant, a man named Martin Brudnizki, he says. It's not "a period set," but it is strongly influenced by the property, Colicchio says. "The building is spectacular," he says. "That's what sold me. I want this. I want to be here. It's really special." He expects Fowler and Wells and the accompanying lounge to open in late May or early June.