Today is day 2 of my parents’ visit, and I’ve just returned to work after a MARVELOUS lunch at Jean-Georges. It goes without saying that the service was impeccable, the room gorgeous, etc, so I’ll get right to the food!
All four of us decided to stick with 2 courses for lunch, since we are having an early dinner tonight. Between us, we ordered duck confit, garlic soup with frog legs, goat cheese gnocchi, tuna ribbons, skate wing, parmesan crusted chicken, and short ribs, along with the apple and chocolate tastings for dessert. We also ate plenty of their excellent sourdough bread with Normandy butter – I think this was actually BF’s favorite part of the meal.
-Amuses were a shot of edamame soup with a light lemon foam, a cube of mango with black olive dust and a little spicy shrimp ball on a skewer with a sliver of fennel. All delicious. The mango olive combination was surprisingly awesome.
-Duck confit – FABULOUS. I loved the playful take on this – an egg roll shaped log of succulent duck confit, dipped in a light batter and fried crisp, served in a bowl with 2 broths, a green one and an orange one, with white asparagus "noodles" beneath. The asparagus didn’t add much to the dish but the duck was amazing, and the tangy broths balanced out the rich fatty duck nicely. Excellent.
-Garlic Soup was rich and creamy, totally comforting, with plenty of mild garlic flavor and a tangy citrus kick. I also thought the thyme flavor came through nicely. Both BF and dad ordered this, but BF got it as his first course. Oddly enough, his bowl was a much thinner texture than my dad’s bowl (though both were delicious). The frog legs were also tasty, but IMHO didn’t have a whole lot to do with the soup.
-Goat cheese gnocchi were beautifully presented with frizzled artichokes on top. Very tasty, soft smooth texture, lots of tang. Nice dish, but not a standout IMHO.
-Tuna ribbons – WOW. This is tuna of a quality I’ve never experienced before. It melted in the mouth, but still had good texture, not at all mushy. The sauce/marinade was also delicious – a perfect blend of creamy avocado, spicy/sweet ginger, etc. Terrific.
-Parmesan chicken was my mother’s choice, largely because she is not a fish eater and there were a lot of fish options on the menu. She REALLY loved this, but I found it overly salty. The crust was nice and crisp, chicken tender, etc – just too much salt for me.
-Skate wing – WOW. Just, WOW. It didn’t look like much on the plate, until the server came and poured the Chateau Chalon sauce over. Even then, it just looked like simple skate wing in sauce. Um, no. The texture of the skate was tender, unctuous, divine. And the SAUCE. Oh my LORD! A perfect buttery emulsion with a flavor that I knew was “wine,” but not any type of wine I’ve ever tasted. From what I understand, Chateau Chalon is a vin jaune, which I’ve read about in magazines but never seen or tasted (it’s apparently very difficult to come by in the states). Unreal. It was winey/rich/buttery/savory/tangy and just PERFECT. If I hadn’t been with my parents, I would have licked the plate!
-Short Rib – another WOW. The meat had been cooked or marinated in a not-too-tangy vinaigrette and was paired with a sweet, earthy puree of peas. I love short ribs, and order them every chance I get, and I’ve NEVER had one this tender, flavorful and rich. The slight tang from the vinaigrette was offset and complemented perfectly by the smooth pea puree. A showstopper. BF should start ordering double portions of things because I keep eating all of his food!
-Apple dessert tasting consisted of an AMAZING apple-fennel sorbet with candied fennel and an apple confit tart with tamarind ice cream. I could have eaten a gallon of that apple-fennel sorbet – it was light and tangy, the absolute essence of Granny Smith apple, with chewy, sweet-spicy chunks of fennel. The apple confit tart was fine but not that exciting, though I really loved the tamarind ice cream that came with it. Haagen-Daas, please take note. Tamarind. Make it happen!
-Chocolate dessert tasting was their signature molten chocolate cake (probably the best of its kind I’ve ever had) with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream (again amazing, whoever makes their ice creams is an evil genius), plus a “chocolate gnocchi” with tangerine gelee. This was the only misstep of the afternoon. I love chocolate and citrus together, but this was just bad. The gnocco was bitter (and not in the good, 85% cacao way) and had a sort of strange, gluey texture. It was coated in what looked like crushed cornflakes, which were a little jarring. The tangerine gelee was good on its own, but it played up all the wrong flavors in the gnocco.
-Mignardises included chocolates, marshmallows and little meringue cookies, all of which were fine but nothing special. I’m not a fan of marshmallows or meringues, though.
Overall, I LOVED Jean-Georges. There were only a couple of elements that were less than amazing, and those would be easily avoided by ordering other dishes. The one thing I noticed was a slightly heavy hand with citrus – the sauce on my duck, for instance, was just a little tarter than I wanted it to be. Also, it seemed like almost all of the dishes incorporated citrus in some way, which just got a little repetitive (this probably could have been avoided by ordering differently). I felt that the portions were fairly generous, especially given the shockingly low price of $28. Each dish was at least twice the size of what I was served at Olana last night. I would probably add a 3rd course for dinner, but for lunch 2 was perfect (didn’t really need dessert, just couldn’t resist). Absolutely some of the best food I’ve had in NYC. I want more short ribs and Chateau Chalon sauce RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!