December 1, 2007

Jean-Georges Vongerichten was one of the first big celebrity chefs. He now has fifteen restaurants scattered about. The most ambitious is Jean-Georges in New York, which gets the top rating in both Zagats and Michelin, although we didn’t like it the one time we went a few years ago. His original restaurant is JoJo on East 64th Street in a converted brownstone townhouse. It has a Michelin star and a good Zagats rating.  Linda and I went for dinner with George and Julie on November 27, 2007.


We ordered aperitifs and a bottle of the 2005 Robert Sinsky Vineyards (Los Carneros) Pinot Noir, which was very good.





Julie started with the Sweet Potato Ravioli, marjoram and balsamic brown butter. She loved its rich smoothness.







Linda’s first course was the Foie Gras, green peppercorn terrine, haricot vert and lemon zest salad. She thought the foie gras was moist and good. The combination with green beans was very good. 






George ordered the Butternut Squash Soup with black trumpet mushrooms. He liked the contrast of the mild soup with the strong mushrooms.






My starter was the Goat Cheese and Potato Terrine, mesclun salad and arugula. The goat cheese had a slightly bitter taste to it, but the fresh mesclun was dressed in a delicious oil, walnut I would guess.






Julie and George went on to the Duck with sweet and sour shallots, leg baked in a brick pastry. Brick is a Tunisian wrapper somewhat like filo; I use it frequently when cooking in France where it is sold in most grocery stores, but I have never seen it in an American restaurant before. The leg meat of the duck had been ground into a filling like a good sausage.






Linda’s main course the Venison “poire au lard, » savoy cabbage, pomegranate seeds and fingerling potatoes.  The combination of pears with venison was very good.





I continued with the Lobster, poached, lemon risotto and caramelized fennel. The lobster pieces were nice, but the risotto was too mushy and didn’t need the touch of Tabasco on top of the lemon.





For dessert Julie and Linda shared a Passion Pavlova, whipped cream and passion seeds.






My dessert was the Crème Fraîche Cheesecake, poached figs and concord grape sorbet. Very nice.




The cuisine was good, but the whole concept didn’t seem to hang together.  On the one hand you have an old shoe ambience: a renovated Upper East Side townhouse and dishes which are basically familiar, nicely updated, but still mostly American. On the other hand you have tables crammed too closely together; efficient, fast, but abrupt service. The welcoming little touches which would have really helped the atmosphere, such as amuse-bouches or mignardises, were missing. I am glad we went to JoJo, but we are still looking for the good cozy neighborhood restaurant which every diner would like to find. (click on JoJo.)

One Response to “JoJo”

  1. George Says:

    Well said, Michael.
    You captured our sentiments exactly. While it is not what we would find in Santa Barbara and it was definitely a delightful culinary diversion, we can see why in Manhattan you would still be looking for the gem you described,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s