I hope it was as good for you as it was for me ;-)
Jean-Georges and Nougatine at Jean-Georges
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
Both the formal Jean-Georges dining room and the less formal adjacent Nougatine at Jean-Georges restaurant are located in the Trump International Hotel and Towers building, right in Columbus Circle, across from Central Park. I have dined twice at Nougatine at the bar, and it has been a lovely experience on both occasions. They offer both Nougatine and Jean-Georges menus at the bar, and I have opted to dine from Nougatine twice thus far. I hope to try Jean-Georges' menu another time (it has three Michelin stars after all), but I have found when I'm dining alone it makes more sense to save that extra money for future special occasions where I might find myself splurging more. As a matter of fact, the night I dined at Nougatine last week, shortly after I left the restaurant I was told that Cindy Crawford showed up (I guess there's only enough room for one beautiful woman at a time and I had to leave before she could enter... at least that's what I'll tell myself), sat in the formal dining room, but dined from the Nougatine menu. I guess I'm not the only one keeping it real, haha.
Now that I've got you all in the Jean-Georges mood, I can share what I ate most recently on my visit. I chose to "splurge" and enjoy the Nougatine tasting menu which consisted of an amuse bouche and five courses including a dessert tasting ($68 compared to $148 for a tasting off the Jean-Georges menu). I also enjoyed a perfectly-made (thanks, Justin) lemon drop martini with my meal and some yummy vin santo dessert wine with my last course. First off was the amuse bouche which was a duo of peekytoe crab over creme fraiche, with green apple in the spoon and a shooter of apple and celery root soup with a touch of spicy oil to follow. Very tasty... the crab/creme/apple spoon was fresh and mildly sweet with the soup having a more sweet but delicious follow-up, not a bad way to start the meal.
Next I had their famous tuna tartare (which I had also enjoyed last summer at lunch). It is served over avocado (such a perfect pairing), topped with sliced radishes, and surrounded by a pool of spicy ginger marinade. The marinade has a very strong flavor, but it pairs really well with the cool and mild tuna and avocado, while the radishes add a nice crunch-factor.
The second official course was Nougatine's famous foie gras brulee, which is served over brioche and then paired with a meyer-lemon jam. This dish was probably my least favorite of those I tried. I like foie gras, but I think the flavor was pretty overpowering and the sugar crust didn't really add much (in fact it almost ruined it for me). I liked the jam though, and I did finish my plate (not gonna let perfectly good foie gras go to waste) but I probably wouldn't order this dish on its own in the future.
Onto the fish course (my favorite)... last summer I tried their seasonal red snapper dish which was a highlight for me, and their current red snapper did not fail to win me over either. It was sublimely roasted with an amazingly crisp skin, served over a sweet garlic-lemon broth and topped with broccoli raab. I was tempted to come back another time and order this dish again on its own. It was very very satisfying!
Next it was time for a good, old-fashioned meat course: Pan Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Miso Butter and Roasted Brussel Sprouts. The beef was cooked perfectly (which I think can be a challenge for a thinner slice of meat, but it was not over-cooked at all), the brussels sprouts were fairly charred, which imparted a very strong flavor. I personally love brussels sprouts and I enjoyed seeing them in a fine dining establishment, and also cooked in a way that adds an additional layer of flavor and texture to the dish. By this point I was so full, I sadly couldn't finish my food :( Alas, I took a short break before dessert was brought over so I could make some room for what was sure to be something special...
And onto dessert, a tasting trio: Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Blood Orange and Tamarind-Cider Sauce, and Meyer Lemon Sorbet. I couldn't finish any of the components (shame on me!), but I loved them all. The meyer lemon sorbet was what you would imagine, a refreshing sweet-and-sour palate cleanser, done well as is expected. The chocolate cake here I believe was the "original" molten chocolate cake (but don't take my word for it). It is wonderful with that perfect bit of vanilla bean ice cream to play off the otherwise hot temperature of the dish. Finally, the sticky toffee pudding was really delicious as well, nice and sweet, but not over the top. With a chocolate element and a citrus element on the plate, it was really nice to have something different to balance out those two extremes in flavor and it didn't disappoint. Yum!
All in all, this was a really enjoyable experience! I am definitely a fan of Jean-Georges and look forward to dining here (and at his other restaurants) in the future.