My boyfriend and I went to The Mark because the Times called it “unambitious” and the whole blogosphere was seemingly up in arms over the two-star rating they gave it despite that. I was prepared to be blown away, anyway, and to give it the many-doughnutted review it deserved.
homemade cherry yuzu and ginger ale sodas ($5)
These sodas were sort of an afterthought, and they turned out to easily be the best part of the meal for me. Ever since the major ginger ale brand in the U.S. started advertising that they use real ginger, I’ve become way more interested in the stuff; I don’t know what I thought was in it before, but it sure wasn’t actual ginger.
If you like drinking that super-commercial style of ginger ale, this might be too much for you to handle, because it is so unbelievably flavorful that you’ll never be able to buy a 2-liter ever again. The ginger was actually settling in the bottom of the glass between sips, which makes me heart pitter-pat just thinking about it. I wish The Mark was closer to my work, because I’d convince all of my co-workers to have happy hour at the bar every day just to get faux-drunk on this stuff.
black truffle pizza with fontina cheese ($21)
Obviously, this was good. A crunchy, airy crust with an earthy, umami middle and that fresh frisée on top. It wasn’t quite as earth-shattering as I expected, though, maybe because it was too easy. Or maybe because I’m becoming a snob who’s becoming too accustomed to black truffle.
market beets, endive, walnuts, grapes ($13)
This was a dish I’d definitely order again. I had never tasted beets until my boyfriend took me to Jules in the East Village three or so years ago, so they’re still a little foreign to me and therefore exciting. Having three different kinds on the plate was like Christmas, and I was pleased to find that they all had distinctive flavors.
The endive with walnuts and grapes was heavenly, and we were sopping that crazy cheese sauce up with our breadbasket.
branzino with couscous ($30-something)
parmesan-crusted organic chicken with artichokes ($25)
I’d be a liar if I said I wouldn’t eat this every day, because come on, look at that crust. The chicken was so moist inside, and the lemony butter sauce only enhanced that, although I needed twice as much of it. When I compare chicken to pork and duck and beef in my mind, it’s so flavorless, and I’m always happy when a chef changes that for me (even if just for a moment).
Grand Marnier souffle, mandarin sorbet ($10)
I’m as disappointed in us as you are for only ordering one dessert, but it was quite the dessert. I usually feel like souffles are more trouble than they’re worth, but this one was so crusty/creamy/orangey. My boyfriend was nice and let me clean out the ramekin, which I did with my finger when our server wasn’t looking.
I liked the formal yet not overly-romantic atmosphere, and the professional service (though our waiter did a double-take when I ordered a Riesling to accompany our meal, but I will not feel bad about my dessert wine love), but for someone with three Michelin stars, it definitely felt like an easy venture rather than a super-passionate one. We left feeling like we’d eaten a nice meal by an accomplished chef, but we didn’t feel wowed. I’m not writing Vongerichten off, though, and I do hope to write an our-socks-were-knocked-off review of his other restaurant, Jean-Georges, soon.
The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges
25 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10075 (map)