Jean Georges, NYC 3
March 18, 2014
On January 27, 2014, Linda and I returned to Jean Georges, which continues to be generally considered one of the top five restaurants in New York. We were seated at a corner table with a good view of the dining room and out through the door to the bar of Nougatine, the informal partner of Jean Georges. The tables were decorated with lovely arrangements of sweet peas. We ordered glasses of Champagne Gatinois Grand Cru Tradition Brut.
This was crisp and good.
We had planned to order the Winter Tasting Menu, but in a discussion with our helpful waiter it appeared that there were too many spicy touches in it for Linda. We then chose from the many selections in the four-course prix-fixe menu. The wine list also offered a challenge, which we discussed with the helpful sommelier. The wines with more than three years of age are very expensive, as are some of the young ones. He pointed out one which I would never have considered, a 2002 Maison Leroy Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire. He said that Mme Bize-Leroy had difficulties that year and put many of her better grapes into the ordinaire. We ordered the wine. It had an elegant flavor and we enjoyed it, but didn’t fill the mouth as one of her 1er crus would have.
The amuse-gueules were a parsnip soup with a dab of chili oil, a salmon spring roll and a mound of ricotta with a pickled beet and wasabi.
Linda’s first course was
Sesame Crab Toast
Miso-Mustard, Asian Pear and Shiso
She said that the long bar made of crab covered with sesame seeds had excellent flavor and was just crispy enough. The small Asian pear slices at the right in the photo and miso-mustard sauce to the left were nice accents, but the crab bar was the star.
My starter was
Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Black Bread, Jalapeño and Yuzu
The sea urchin had been enriched by its light heating on top of the solid brown bread. The dabs of jalapeño and yuzu on top helped to bring out the luscious flavor, but could have been more subtle.
Linda’s second course was
Char-Grilled Foie Gras Ravioli
Red Papaya, Passion Fruit and Spiced Red Wine
It was not clear to Linda to what the char-grilling applied, but the ravioli filled with foie gras and something crunchy on top were very good. The passion fruit and wine sauce gave a slightly tart contrast.
Seared Gulf Shrimp with Baby Artichokes, Lemon-Fennel Emulsion and Paprika Gel
The shrimp were very good. The crisp, grated artichoke on top was an appropriate garnish. The yellow lemon-fennel emulsion on the left was too tart. The red paprika gel and the crackle of white button mushrooms had little flavor; they added two additional textures, but were an unnecessary complication.
Linda’s main course was
Pan Roasted Sweetbreads, Glazed Chestnuts and Black Truffle Vinaigrette
We thought that this was the best course of our dinner. The truffle aroma and flavor from the sauce combined with the sweetbreads and chestnuts to make an excellent dish.
Crispy Confit of Suckling Pig, Rutabaga “Pudding” and Smoked Bacon Marmalade
The luscious suckling pig with its very crisp skin were excellent. The rutabaga underneath was good and added some needed bulk to the rich meat. The “marmalade” on top could have added an appropriate tartness to counterbalance the sweetness of the meat and rutabaga, but it was excessive in size and acidity.
Four little sorbets in pastry cups were served.
There are four theme choices for dessert; each includes four small desserts in the same theme. Linda chose
Caramelized Pineapple Sorbet, Passion Fruit, Brioche
Crème Caramel, Maple, Bacon and Pecan Powder
Caramel Apple Confit, Graham Crumble and Crème Fraiche
Peanut Torte, Caramel Mousse, Brown Butter Caramel
She said that he peanut torte was superb. The crème caramel was tiny but excellent. The other two good. A very clever presentation of caramels.
My desserts were
Spice Roasted Squash, Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Linzer Crumble
Caramelized Crepe Cake, Quince Purée
Poached Pear, Rose Cream, Passion Caramel, Candied Nuts
I enjoyed these. The pear was particularly good.
With my dessert I had a glass of Banyuls Reserva NV, Domaine La Tour Vieille (Roussillon).
The mignardises included macarons, nougats, gels and chocolates.
There were also two vanilla marshmallows, but we had already had a lot of sugar by then.
We enjoyed our meal and do not quarrel with Jean George’s high reputation in New York. The service and ambience were first rate. The pace was excellent. It was evident to me that this was fine cuisine in what has become the contemporary New York style. Spicy and acid elements were unannounced, unexpected, not subtle and sometimes overdone. We encounter this in fine restaurants in Europe or Japan only in occasional touches. It is a trend I regret for our palates, particularly for its effect on the wine. (I am not referring to various ethnic cuisines where one expects skilled use of various spiciness.)
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