The last time I went to Jean-Georges, the eponymous restaurant of Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, was in 2002 and I remember that I promised myself that I would go back. At the time, it was the first restaurant where I got to eat a modern take on dishes, with, from what I recall, a fish served with a strawberry foam. The place changed for sure with three main areas: The bar, the small dining area next to the open kitchen and the main dining room where we were seated.
Atmosphere wise, it was a bit stuffy, but I admit that the staff made everybody comfortable, showing the difference between service and hospitality.
We went for dinner: they are proposing 4 prix-fixe menus:
- One where you have the choice of three dishes among a large number of them, but no dessert.
- Jean-Georges' menu that is Chef Vongerichten's assortment of signature dishes (I chose this one).
- The Spring menu composed of seasonal ingredients.
- The vegetable menu that Jodi picked.
After we sat, they brought to the table some bread (not all of them are made in house). Throughout the meal, I got to try: the pretzel bread, the olive and rosemary bread (my least favorite as a bit rubbery) and the Swedish rye bread.
Then came an amuse bouche composed of three items: yellowfin tuna with a yuzu and garlic soy sauce, avocado on crispy rice with chipotle and a bonito and mushroom soup, served in a glass.
For the first dish, I got the egg caviar, that was beautifully presented, like an oeuf a la coque. Inside was like a scrambled egg, and I loved the saltiness that the caviar, sitting on top, gave to the dish, mixed as well with a cayenne pepper and lemon zest vodka mousse that added some acidity.
For her first course, Jodi got the pea shoot dumplings, served with black pepper and sweet soy.
Second course was for me the diver scallops accompanied by caramelized cauliflower and a caper-raisin emulsion. I was curious to see how the caper-raisin emulsion would play out and it was perfect, the caper definitely taking over and adding a saltiness that paired well with the perfectly cooked scallops.
For Jodi, it was the market mushroom salad with wild greens and herbal pine nut dressing, one of her favorite dishes of the evening.
For the third course, I got a quite interesting dish: the young garlic soup with thyme and sautéed frog legs. There is nothing more French than frog legs, but I admit that it is the first time that I see it served that way: the soup and the frog legs came separately. You then put the frog legs in the soup and will eat them with your hands (they explain to you how to do it and bring you a towel after to rinse your fingers after). The soup was good, not too garlicky and I wished there were more frog legs, a delicacy not that common on menus, even in French restaurants.
For Jodi, another favorite for her: green asparagus with morels and asparagus jus.
The towel mentioned before came after that and was quite a funny stunt, not only because of the way they wet it, but also because the staff told us that some people thought it was...food!
Fourth course was, for me, the turbot with Château Chalon Sauce, an homage from the Chef the region he is coming from. First of all, the colors were beautiful, from the sauce to the tomato and zucchini on top. Then, the fish was perfect cooked, moist, bathed in a sauce with caramel notes, thanks to the wine used. If you like fish, I totally recommend this dish.
For Jodi, it was the Roasted market carrots served with avocado, sprouts and seeds.
Fifth course was, in the Chef's menu, the lobster tartine prepared with a lemongrass and fenugreek broth, as well as pea shoots. The lobster, perfectly cooked, was sitting on a thick piece of bread (hence the tartan) that was soaked in that delicious broth that had Asian influence.
For Jodi, it was the parmesan risotto served with crispy artichokes, lemon and parsley.
Last main dish (number six) was for me the broiled squab and foie gras. That was an interesting combination and a delicious one in fact. The foie gras was sautéed and served on a corn pancake. The squab was well cooked, moist, with some crispy skin.
Jodi got the tender Spring vegetables with green curry, another dish representing the Asian influences Chef Vongerichten likes to use. This was her least favorite dish.
To accompany my meal, I decided to have a glass of Riesling , Cabinet, Vollenweider Wolfer Goldgrube, Mosel, Germany 2014, that was refreshing and delightfully sweet.
Before dessert, they brought us a palate cleanser made with a sablé topped by a grapefruit meringue and champagne sorbet that for sure delivered.
My dessert was a chocolate tasting composed of several variations on chocolate, from a fantastic chocolate mousse to chocolate and peanut butter, to a lava cake. The only thing I did not like there was the passion fruit that was under the chocolate mousse...
To cut the sweetness of the chocolate, they also brought a macadamia nut milk that was surprisingly delicious and did it thing.
Talking about passion fruit, I did not expect it in my dish, but more in Jodi's as it was the tropical dessert tasting, a spectacular dessert that came as a coconut ball, stuffed with a bunch of tropical fruits that were colorful.
With our desserts came some chocolates (cherry blossom truffles, chocolate caramel truffles and kirsch truffles):
Some chocolate ganache with green tea powder and yuzu gel:
As well as the house rhubarb pie and housemate marshmallow:
Last, before we left, they gave us a little bag containing some chocolates:
This was a delicious meal: the dishes were very good, beautifully presented and the service on point. There is no question that Jean-Georges is one of the top restaurants in New York and I will probably not wait 15 years before going back!
Enjoy (I did)!
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