Jean-Georges is the jewel of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s expanding empire, tucked on the side of the Trump International Hotel in Columbus Circle. The restaurant has been mentioned over the years in several sitcoms and I know it to have the best value three Michelin-starred lunch in the USA, offering two plates for $58, with additional plates at $29 each. A tasting menu is also available at $158. I opted for the former as I didn’t feel that I could handle the full version after the Cronuts from Dominique Ansel’s bakery.
I arrived a few minutes ahead of my booking and was swiftly accompanied to the bar by the host while my table was prepared. Strangely enough as a solo diner, both the host and barman asked if I’d be more comfortable seated at the bar for my lunch over the main dining room; I told them I’d booked my table as a solo diner, intended to stick to it and was comfortable dining solo. Due to this, my experience at Jean-Georges began by annoying me, but this soon changed once I was sat at my table. The dining room was bright and airy and I was given a table with a view of the entire dining area: a great people-watching spot and perfect for a solo diner.
I started off with a glass of rosé, Domaine de Marquiliani, France 2015, which was at a reasonable $18 per glass. This rosé was so light in colour that it could almost be described as clear. It was a good choice as it didn’t overpower my food and was refreshing; just what the doctor ordered after the long walks that morning.
The trio of amuse-bouche’s that day were a rye crispbread with a chilli and avocado mousse, a spicy salmon in soy, served with radishes and a coriander tea to finish off. First things first, avocado is the new Marmite: you either love it or hate it. I’m quite strange in that I dislike avocado, but love guacamole. Seeing as avocado is the rage at the moment, I’m trying to learn to embrace it, and embrace it I did with this dish: the chilli avocado mousse had a great balance of flavours. The salmon was delicate, but I felt that the soy unfortunately masked its subtlety. I won’t comment on the coriander tea as it was something that wasn’t to my liking at all.
For my meal, I chose Yellow Fin Tuna Ribbons (feature picture), Foie Gras Terrine (extra dish at $29, plus an $8 supplement), and for my main, Sourdough Crusted Wild King Salmon.
The Yellow Fin Tuna Ribbons with avocado, spicy radish served over a ginger-soy marinade mixed with kaffir lime syrup: this was a clean, well balanced dish, with the fish being just as tender as the salmon from the amuse-bouche.
The Foie Gras Terrine was served with strawberry granola, aged balsamic and chilli. This was a dish I found strange and felt compelled to order to see what a rich dish would taste like with sweet, acidic and spicy additions to an ingredient which could, and often is, just be served as is. After ordering this dish, I did have second thoughts, expecting this to be a dish where the foie gras played second fiddle to the elements, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. The strawberry granola, with the chilli and hit of balsamic, transformed the foie gras into a rich, silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture, making it a stand-out dish for me.
For the main, I settled on the Sourdough Crusted Wild King Salmon with creamed Fava beans and lime. This dish was a delight, with the sourdough crust protecting one side of the pan-seared salmon. My only complaint on this would be that it was only a small serving of salmon. Jean-Georges Review
Jean-Georges are also famed for their $12 Dessert Tastings, and the choices that day consisted of Chocolate, Strawberry, Tropical or Stone Fruit. I went with the chocolate tasting, which were as follows:
Dark Chocolate Mousse, Milk Chocolate Ganache and Passion Fruit Gelée
Mini Warm Chocolate Cake, Hibiscus Sorbet
Crystallized Rose, Peanut Caramel Jean-Georges Review
Olive Oil Powder, Fraises des Bots and Macademia Nut Milk
I can’t do this dessert justice by describing it, but all I can say is it has lifted the bar for desserts everywhere for me. I’ll let the picture do the talking – unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the macadamia nut milk, but it was a nice way to finish such a chocolate-heavy dessert. The sweets weren’t over just yet; next followed the Truffles and Vanilla Bean Marshmallows cut at my table. Jean-Georges Review
My view of Jean-Georges was that it was a great experience: the food was very good and reasonably priced; the service (after the initial issues highlighted above from the host and the barman) were faultless. Would I go again? It ‘s a yes from me, and I’d like to go for dinner next time and try the tasting menu with paired wines. Jean-Georges is opening a casual-dining restaurant at the Connaught in Spring 2017, I’m looking forward to a visit, especially if he introduces the dessert tasting plates!