There have been many heated debates between Jean-Georges and Daniel factions on these boards in the past. Before last night, I was a firm deciple of the latter. However, after a 4-hour dinner at Jean-Georges last night the experience is making me switch camps. This is not to say that I no longer enjoyed my meal at Daniel. However, the meal at Jean-Georges was that good. My dining partner (who had also been to Daniel) agreed.
We started with an amuse bouche of three: a watermelon radish lobster roll topped with sprouts, a parmesan cheese custard topped with a black truffle coulis, and a tiny square of tuna topped with a wasabe and possibly cheese relish served on top of a sesame cracker. The watermelon radish was okay--refreshing but not profound. The cheese custard however, was very good. The richness and muskiness of the cheese did not mask the earthy perfume of the black truffle. However, the tuna cracker sent our senses reeling--a wave of sesame, followed by a mave of the wasabe and cheese and all the while feeling the contrast between the brittle cracker and the cool tuna. Pure sensory overload. Of the amuse I had at Daniel, only the lightly poached oysters in a shallot vinegar sauce came close to the tuna cracker.
For an appetizer, my partner had the scallop tartar with black truffle brioche and I ordered the langoustines with black truffle and fennel risotto. My dish blew away the lobster risotto I had at Daniel. That sexy truffle scent caressed my face and I sat for a few moments just smelling the dish. The langoustines were cooked to perfection and almost silky on the tongue. My friend's scallop tartar was cubed scallop paired with identically sized cubes of what looked and tasted like beets (but the fact that it wasn't staining the milky white scallops made us question if they were beets). The mixture was tossed with sesame oil which almost, almost hid the sweetness of the scallops. It did however, accent the textural ballet between the scallops, the "beets", and the truffle brioche.
My friend ordered the duck for her entree and I had the turbot with chateau chalon sauce. The duck was very simple. I think it was seasoned only with salt and pepper, but the perfectly cooked breast (which was sliced tableside) needed nothing more. The waiters finished my turbot by drizzling the chateau chalon sauce on my plate. Again, I spent moments just smelling the sauce. It was assertive without being strong (if that makes any sense). The turbot was topped with finely minced zucchini for textural interest. Since I had veal at Daniel, it was hard to compare the two dishes. The turbot was by far more refined though.
Finally, for dessert, my friend ordered the chocolate souffle with vanilla ice cream and warm raspberries. I had the creme brulee tasting which consisted of white peppercorn, licorice, gentian, and two other flavors that escape me. The desserts were about the same caliber as the ones I had at Daniel.
Overall, the presentation seemed cleaner and more focused at Jean-Georges. The service would have been perfect if we didn't feel a little rushed towards the end. The room was more dimly lit and smaller than dining room at Daniel which made it more appealing (not necessarily more attractive though).
When we walked out 4 hours later, it was as if we were walking out of a dream.