1 Central Park West, New York, NY
Feb.27 2013, Website here
Following our dinner at Eleven Madison Park the night before, we fancied ourselves up for the final 3-star Michelin experience of the trip at Jean-Georges. As our dinner schedule was already jam-packed, we decided to do JG for lunch. Located on the ground floor of the Trump Tower, and only a stone’s throw from the Time Warner Center and Per Se, Jean-Georges would end up being one of the most outstanding meals on our trip.
After dropping off our jackets, we were seated at a secluded table tucked into an alcove near the back of the restaurant. Ultra-cute and private, this table was perfect for us to take photos and write notes without disturbing other diners or staff.
Having already eaten multiple tasting menus on our trip, we went ahead with the 3 course Tastes of Spring Menu, rather than the 6 course lunch tasting. We were also given a complimentary additional course, and with the trio of amuses, mignardises and dessert, we were thoroughly stuffed after this 3+ hour lunch.
Starting with the 6 o’clock position on the plate was beet, walnut, microgreen and creme fraiche served on a small piece of rye bread. The sweetness of the warm beet combined well with the walnut to provide a clean start to the meal.
Next was fluke with citrus snow. The tangerine, elderflower and buttermilk snow was bright and clean while the fluke had great texture. Fabulous balance of salinity and acidity from the citrus.
The final amuse was sweet potato puree with dashi foam and parmesan. Good flavour, this was a warm and comforting dish on a cold, rainy day in New York.
Although not intended (we asked the server), this amuse trio felt like a progression of seasons with the fall beets, wintery sweet potato and bright citrus in spring/summer. This was a great start to our meal.
Pierre Peters Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru MV
Seeing a seafood heavy menu in our future, we decided on a Blanc de Blanc to pair with our meal. A super light style, this Champagne was nearly transparent. Fine mousse, lemon, slate, clean and with massive acidity, this paired well with the lighter fish courses and also cut through the creaminess of later ones. Stylistically this is like Lanson and other very light Champagnes.
The egg, caviar, creme fraiche, gold leaf dish at Joel Robuchon is easily one of our top 5 dishes of all time, and thus we always have to choose any combination of egg and caviar when it appears on the menu. This version featured lightly scrambled egg topped with vodka/cayenne whipped cream and American sturgeon caviar. The creamy sweetness of the egg and whipped cream were balanced by the salty caviar and the cayenne provided a lingering touch of heat on the finish. Excellent.
Left: Sea scallop, caramelized cauliflower, caper-raisin emulsion.
Right: Peekytoe crab dumplings, celeriac-meyer lemon tea.
Halved and seared, the scallops were topped with crunchy caramelized cauliflower. The curry and Indian spices in the caper-raisin puree provided pop to this well balanced, rich dish.
The Peekytoe crab dumplings were rich and buttery with a lovely, thin wonton wrapper. Small pieces of julienned meyer lemon, apple and celery again gave great acid to the dish, while the tea base was light and delicious.
Left: Seared Gulf Shrimp with Kabocha squash
Right: Parsnip ravioli, beet jus, olive oil
These courses were complimentary (seems to be common when you take notes) and were both unique and unexpected in flavour profile.
Cooked perfectly, the Gulf shrimp had great texture and were amazingly sweet while the Kabocha squash was infused with curry, cajun and chipotle. Sweet, rich, spicy, one of the best dishes of the day.
The parsnip ravioli was an off menu course with a sweet flavour profile from the beet, parsnip and small pieces of coconut jewel scattered throughout. The brunoised white beet was infused with citrus, but overall I found this dish needed a bit more acid to balance the multiple rich/sweet components.
Left: Black sea bass crusted with nuts and seeds
Right: Arctic Char, spiced jade emulsion, tender white asparagus
The sea bass was cooked perfectly, flaky and moist. The maitake mushroom broth was rich with earthy mushroom flavour and cut by the acidity of citrus infused pearl onions. There were also squash, potato and celery pieces in the broth, again cooked just right.Overall a lovely dish, though I found the bites without the citrus onion to be overly rich.
One of my favorite fish, the massive piece of arctic char was served with celeriac, microgreens and a jade emulsion. The vibrant green of the emulsion was visually stunning, and the flavour was unexpected and awesome. Infused with spicy chili peppers, shrimp base and celery, the sauce provided great heat and bite to balance the rich char. The ratio of fish to sauce was excellent, such that every bite was enjoyable. Fantastic!
Winter dessert: Poached pear and butterscotch caramel with green apple granite
Part one of the dessert duo was a poached pear coated in rose petal and crushed pistachios. The presentation before the warm caramel was poured over the pear was beautiful, and about half of the pistachio pieces fell off with the caramel. The caramel and poached pear were good, with the highlights of the course being the whipped cream center of the pear (where it had been cored) and the crunchiness provided by the pistachio coating. Overall solid, though not spectacular.
The butterscotch caramel w/ green apple granite was less successful, with the buterscotch tasting grainy and a little bit burnt. The green apple granite was acidic, light and improved the butterscotch.
Fresh Marshmallow and Mignardises
One of the famous JG items is the fresh marshmallow cart. Trolleyed around on a cart, one server cuts the large marshmallows into four for each guest. Soft and delicious, I could eat a lot of these.
The mignardises tray was also above average, with nougat, a gelee, chocolates, and macaroons.
The service was excellent at JG, with our Captain being very gracious and interested in our experience and particularly how JG compared with other places on our NYC food tour. We told him JG was excellent, especially compared with Per Se.
Water and wine were refilled quickly and quietly, plates were cleared immediately and other than one snobby server, it was great.
Jean-Georges proved to be one of the most consistent meals of our NYC dining experience, and falls in with Bouley, Momofuku Ko and Jungsik as a top 4 meal of the trip. Highly recommended.