Lunch at Jean-Georges
March 7th, 2013 by plumpdumpling

From the Vault:

This is a meal from April of 2011, with pictures taken on my old point and shoot camera and everything. I recently revisited Jean-Georges, however, and wanted to post my first meal there before I review my second one.

I went to acclaimed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s less-expensive restaurants The Mark and Nougatine. There were definite highlights to each–the beets, the souffle, the strawberry foie gras brulee–but overall, my socks were not knocked off.

Everyone told me, “You can’t judge Jean-Georges on those! Go to the real restaurant! It’s a different experience!” They all said, “The lunch at Jean-Georges is the best value in the city!” So I went to Jean-Georges. I had the lunch. I’m still not sure how this restaurant has three Michelin stars.

Jean-Georges NYC
ginger soda and spring herb soda

Still the best part about dining at any of the Jean-Georges restaurants, I think. I just love that they have to be stirred and that they’re so intensely flavored and that they make you realize how overly-sweet and underly-natural traditional bottled sodas are. My boyfriend wasn’t as impressed with his spring herb soda as with the other flavors we’ve had, mostly because there weren’t any actual herbs in it, but my ginger is still one of the best drinks in town.

Jean-Georges NYC
amuse bouche: mushroom cannelloni, radish over mustard on rye, carrot water

Jean-Georges NYC
sea trout draped in trout eggs, lemon foam, dill, horseradish

Jean-Georges NYC
foie gras brulee, pineapple jam

Jean-Georges NYC
parmesan risotto, mushrooms, herbs

Jean-Georges NYC
shrimp, cucumber pasta

I think this dish sums up the Jean-Georges experience. The shrimp was impeccably seasoned and cooked, and the cucumber “pasta” was a neat little trick that resulted in this bright, fresh, light plate of food. If I was someone concerned about lightness and brightness, I might describe this dish as “guilt-free” and talk about how it’s a “healthy swap” for a legitimate pasta. But I want all of my dishes to involve so much butter I could sculpt a cow out of them. I want to feel like I should feel guilty about what I’m eating (but then not actually feel guilty, because I’m a grownup). I want to be knocked out by flavor. This kind of food is nice, but it’s not gut-bustingly, tear-producingly delicious.

Jean-Georges NYC
slowly baked salmon, warm potato salad, sugar snap peas, horseradish

Jean-Georges NYC
sauteed veal scallopine, Flying Pig ham, mushrooms

Jean-Georges NYC
salted caramel tart, hazelnut streusel, creme fraiche, caramelized espresso ice cream, chewy caramel powder

Jean-Georges NYC

Jean-Georges NYC

One of the best things about the Jean-Georges experience is the marshmallow cart, which arrives bearing a jar of homemade marshmallows that the marshmallow-caterer deftly snips apart with her shears. You get one. You will want ten.

Jean-Georges NYC
Jean-Georges chocolate cake, vanilla bean ice cream, milk skin, peanut butter powder

Jean-Georges NYC
mystery dessert

Jean-Georges NYC
lavender French macarons

Jean-Georges NYC

Lunch at Jean-Georges is quite a deal at two plates for $38 with each additional plate at $19. If you want to say you’ve been to a restaurant with three Michelin stars but don’t want to drop $118 on the prix-fixe menu or $198 on the tasting menu, this is the meal for you. Despite the price, it has all the trappings of the three-star experience: the refined plating, the sleek decor with neutral colors and tons of natural light, the flawless service. For me, though, the food doesn’t measure up to that of the other restaurants with three Michelin stars. It’s like there’s one flavor missing from every dish, one thing that other chefs are including that Chef Vongerichten isn’t. (Butter.)

And yet my boyfriend and I feel ourselves being drawn to it every now and then. After this meal, we returned for the full tasting at dinner. And even when that wasn’t quite good enough, either, we still mention going back again every time we see an open reservation. We’re still trying to find that third Michelin star. We’re still trying to give credit to the chef who’s said to have influenced the way New Yorkers eat more than any other. We still love those homemade sodas.

1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023 (map)

13 Responses  
  • Erin writes:
    March 7th, 20132:05 pmat

    So it looks delicious, but you know what I’m over? Foam. Does this make me uncouth?

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 12th, 20133:25 pmat

      Nope! I think it’s hip to hate foam now. Wasn’t it this season of “Next Iron Chef” that the judges told Marcel it’s passe? I still like it when it adds to a dish, but it rarely adds to a dish.

  • Jessica R. writes:
    March 7th, 20133:38 pmat

    Home made sodas and a bunch of desserts would be enough to get me in the door!

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 12th, 20133:25 pmat

      If there was a marshmallow course with soda pairings, I’d be there every day.

  • thickcrust writes:
    March 7th, 20137:49 pmat

    You should track down the marshmallow sommelier in a sort of “where are they now?” series.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 12th, 20133:28 pmat

      I’m guessing barber or bris-giver. I’m sure there’s a name for that person, but I’m afraid to look it up at work. Wait, aren’t you slightly Jewish? This is a test, then.

  • Ash writes:
    March 8th, 201312:36 pmat

    Blech. How can there not enough butter in a (3-Michelin starred!) French restaurant. I’m so glad you told me about this before so we didn’t waste our money on it. I want to be BLOWN away if food is this expensive, and not be like “Oh, that’s refreshing!” For that I’d rather have a pint of sorbet.

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 12th, 20133:33 pmat

      We had taken a kitchen tour at a restaurant right before this where the chef had cooked at J-G and warned us about the butter situation, but we foolishly ignored him. I’d recommend this place as you get farther into your culinary adventures and want to have a well-rounded picture of what three stars looks like in NYC, but yeah, I’ll join you in that sorbet.

  • Megan writes:
    March 11th, 20139:17 amat

    I love reviewing food and restaurants. Do you ever use Yelp?

    Those macarons look amazing…

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 12th, 20133:36 pmat

      I live by Yelp. I don’t love it for really fine dining, because you get a lot of ya-hoos on there who just want to complain about the price, but it’s helped me get so much spectacular bubble tea and burgers and beer. I’d love to read your reviews!

  • spilledinkguy writes:
    March 11th, 20139:56 amat

    When I have no clue I often panic and say ‘foie gras’ in a last-ditch, desperate effort to help establish minimal foodie-cred.
    So… you know… foie gras.
    (Also thank you for spelling foie gras. So I didn’t have to ‘Google’ foie gras. Foie gras.)

    • donuts4dinner writes:
      March 12th, 20133:58 pmat

      You are hilarious. I have to note, though, that I think all of the “Real Housewives” of everywhere do this, too. They like to pretend they love foie gras and know a lot about food, but then they go to whatever celebrity chef’s restaurant while on a girls’ weekend in Vegas (it’s always a girls’ weekend in Vegas) and freak out when it’s put in front of them. I expect you to eat your foie gras with gusto.

  • Sarah writes:
    March 12th, 20135:07 pmat

    What were the flavors like in the shrimp dish? That tomato foam? Looks absolutely delicious… was the cucumber raw or seasoned? This totally looks like something I could, with all my myriad of food issues, totally scrum up.

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