Jean Georges. WOW!!!!!!!

3,853
12
Joined May 26, 2001
Last night for Paul's birthday we went to Jean Georges. We had the Autumn Tasting Menu, with a flight of wines to accompany each of the 6 (!) courses. I still have to write up the details, but for now I'll say: it was possibly the best meal I've ever had in my life. Ever. Save your pennies, guys!
 
427
10
Joined Jan 21, 2002
See mom, this is why I should accompany you to dinner more often. Where exactly was this place located. The City is too large for me to be knocking on every door. :D
 
3,853
12
Joined May 26, 2001
Soon, soon! You don't just throw a few words together to describe a meal like that.

Oh, all right: the amuse came as three "courses" on a beautiful white oblong plate. The first part was a tall, thin cordial glass with a warm apple soup: creamy but not rich, tart, subtly spicy -- and with little cubes of foie gras suspended in it. Oh, my.

The middle item was a 1-inch square of dark sour bread, topped with some sharp mustard sauce and a square of unctuous raw salmon -- which had more flavor than a whole mouthful of farm-raised fish. On top of the fish was a dab of a sweet-and-tart marmalade.

The last amuse was a slice of asian pear wrapped in proscuitto, all sitting on top of an herb purée and with tiny cubes of pear gelée scattered around. Crisp fruit, chewy meat, soft purée and gelée. And the flavors were as much a contrast as the textures.

Sorry, that's all you'll get for now. I promise to work on it tomorrow and get it all up as soon as I can. (Hey, ya know, I DO have to work sometimes!) ;) You guys will be the first to know!
 
3,853
12
Joined May 26, 2001
Sorry for the delays, but it's still in the works. Also, our DSL connection has gotten messed up, so I can only get online via dialup -- so I'm only doing little chunks at a time.

I promise, promise, PROMISE -- soon. :D
 
3,853
12
Joined May 26, 2001
Paul’s Birthday Dinner at Jean George, Friday, November 1, 2002

(Once again, apologies to my friends who are getting the identical story on different boards. Also to the wine mavens reading this; I was not careful enough to capture all the important information on the many, MANY wines we had. And finally, to those who actually know the menu – I did not keep a copy, and so may err on the composition of some of the dishes.)

Our reservation, made about two weeks before the date, was for 6:00PM. When I called, I asked if we would have to vacate the table by any specific time – No, I was told. Sigh of relief; at a dinner like this, we have been known to take one hour just to decide on our order (le Lion d’Or, Washington, DC, about 1978).

We arrived right on time. The reception staff were very pleasant, if a bit chilled. Physically, that is: the street doors open automatically and it doesn’t seem to take much to make them part. A gracious if not effusive welcome, in any case.

We were seated in a corner banquette by a waiters’ station, just inside the (open) doors that lead into Nougatine (the “café” attached to the restaurant). No doubt others would have considered it a lousy table, in that location. My response: eh? We got to play kneesies all night, and also chatted with the waiters more than we could have otherwise. The room was a bit on the crowded side (our standard is Chanterelle). And we had the massive new building going up on the site of the Coliseum hulking over our shoulders. But we were just there for the food. On a positive note, we did have a great view of a sommelier’s station; so we could check out what other people were drinking.

Service started off very efficiently – and stayed that way almost to the end of the meal.
We were presented with menus, and as soon as I asked, I was handed the wine list. (Points for that! Not that annoying French stuff we got hit with at Daniel.) To be honest, I never really looked much at it, beyond the Sparkling Wines by the Glass. Of those, we ordered a Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, which we know from Chanterelle and love, and a glass of Riesling Sekt from Pfalz, just because we’ve never had it. It was unexpectedly wonderful: full-flavored, fruity but without the characteristics I usually dislike in Rieslings.

For once, we both ordered a tasting menu. Normally we will, if possible, do one tasting and one à la carte, having the kitchen split the extra courses. But this time, the Autumn Tasting (6 courses plus dessert) was irresistible; besides, they tell you that the whole table must order it. A bit of a cop-out for the kitchen, to my mind (“sorry, we don’t want to have to coordinate your meal”), but then again we could never have tried so many different dishes otherwise. And I copped out on the wine, asking the sommelier to make up a flight to go with the meal. So.

Finally, she gets to talking about the food! The amuse came as three "courses" on a beautiful white oblong plate. The first part was a tall, thin cordial glass with a warm apple soup: creamy but not rich, tart, subtly spicy -- and with little cubes of foie gras suspended in it. Oh, my. The middle item was a 1-inch square of dark sour bread, topped with some sharp mustard sauce and a square of unctuous raw salmon -- which had more flavor than a whole mouthful of farm-raised fish. On top of the fish was a dab of a sweet-and-tart marmalade. The last amuse was a slice of asian pear wrapped in proscuitto, all sitting on top of an herb purée and with tiny cubes of pear gelée scattered around. Crisp fruit, chewy meat, soft purée and gelée. And the flavors were as much a contrast as the textures. Our Champagne and Sekt went quite nicely.

The first course was the Foie Gras Brulée. If I never eat another thing, I believe I’ve tasted heaven. This dish was sensational: contrasts of textures (soft, creamy foie on a chewy brioche crouton, topped with a crunchy disc of caramelized sugar) and flavors (salty foie, slightly bitter burnt sugar, and spicy, sweet-and-tart fig jam). With it we had a Belingard Monbazillac 2000 – not as syrupy as Sauternes, more muted sweetness, but a lovely match.

Second: peeky-toe crab salad with Granny Smith apples, cucumber gelée, and mustard foam. (Lots more foams yet to come). The crab was just a molded mound, wonderfully fresh and flavorful. The apples were NOT Granny Smiths, but some red-skinned variety. They were very thin slices, and obviously cut seconds before serving. Unfortunately they were topped with a bit of goo (not the cucumber gelée) that reminded me of hair pomade. But the gelée was undoubtedly cucumber, and the mustard foam with its bite was a good contrast. Wine: a dry Muscat: Bianco secco La Gazella.

Third: risotto with porcini and fines herbes. Very nice risotto, creamy with just the right bite. The porcini had the look and mouthfeel of having been cooked with a veal stock reduction, but the flavor was more of a mushroom reduction. Herbs were chopped fresh and as purée with oil; tarragon predominant, but balanced overall. Wine: a disappointing California Niebaum-Coppola Blanceneaux. The bouquet started off too reminiscent of acetone. The wine was just okay.

Fourth: slow roasted black cod with potato “pasta” (their quotes), lemon cream foam, and Osetra caviar. I must state my prejudice: feed me caviar on anything, and I’m yours for … well, at least the duration of the meal. Again, a dish of textural contrasts. The fish was rich and unctuous, but in a totally different way from Nobu’s marinated version. I had to explain to Paul that “black cod” is really the same as sable, a much-beloved Jewish “appetizing store” item of our youth (along with REAL lox and smoked chubs). The potato “pasta” was simply julienne threads of potato, barely cooked so they still had some crunch. Normally, this would be awful, but not here. And I wanted to mainline the lemon-cream foam. Tart, but not too; rich, but not too; just plain great. The about a tablespoon of the aforementioned caviar. And almost unnoticed, until I happened to taste it – a few tiny flakes of a very firey red pepper. Just enough to surprise. Wine: 2000 Grunerveltliner (my notes here are getting a little jagged, sorry). I think it was about here that the service stopped being so briskly-paced. Which was fine with us, except for having to wait for our wine to be poured before we could start eating the course.


Fifth: the most visually stunning dish: poached lobster with brunoise of Fall vegetables, tapioca, and Gewirtztraminer foam, finished at the table with a tiny drizzle of Thai-spiced passion fruit purée. Needless to say, the pieces of lobster were perfectly cooked, and outrageously flavorful. Vegetables were beets, butternut squash, zucchini, and yellow squash; the tapioca beads were clear and shiny. Of course everything was cut to a perfect brunoise, matching the size of the spheres of tapioca. And each was cooked à point, no doubt individually. The foam was most definitely WINE-based (hic!). But it was that little bit of spicy, tart passion fruit that pulled everything together. Wine: a Palette from Chateau Simone (rosé from Provence). When the beets bled into the sauce, they turned it exactly the same shade as the wine. Now THAT’s coordination!

Sixth: Venison with butternut squash and “almond purée” – gamier than I’m used to, which in fact was good. The squash is not one of my favorite vegetables, but it was good, of course. The purée was delicate and a good contrast. There was probably some sauce and something else, but by then, who could take good notes? (XXXXX) Wine: another surprise of the night: Bouvard Dézaley 2000 – a Swiss red, blended from 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Merlot, and 20% Syrah. Never in a million years could we have known about this one. It was perfect with the venison. Just perfect, even at this young age.

Desserts: We ordered the Autumn and Exotic dessert tastings, and received the Chocolate tasting as well. I have no notes but (almost) remember a few: a spiced chocolate soup; a “milles feuilles” of autumn citrus fruits, with white chocolate in place of the pastry and a layer of tarragon-flavored whipped cream (wow); chocolate mousse cake; something chocolate with a salted peanut-caramel sauce; Concord grape something; chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream; and the best best best of all: calamansi panna cotta. Tart from lime and buttermilk (?); creamy mouthfeel but not rich. A great way to end the meal. And of course mignardise: flavored marshmallows, truffles dusted with green tea powder, tiny meringue sandwiches, apricot jellies, and dark chocolate. Nowhere near as overpowering as at ADNY. (NOTE: Johnny Iuzzini, the pastry chef, was just named as a winner of New York Magazines first annual Chef Awards – in the 11/11 issue.) Wines: an Iced Apple Wine from Québec, and a 20-year-old Tawny Port (not our first choice, but just fine).

Having been seated at 6:00pm, we finally left at about 9:30pm.

So: thanks for sticking with me this far. I have no idea if we will go back on our own, but if anyone offers, I’ll be there!
 
4,508
32
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Dear Suzanne,

What a well written review.

Thanks for taking the time to share with us.
 
1,908
274
Joined Oct 28, 1999
Well, ma'am, that was certainly worth the wait. What a great adventure! Is it rude of me to ask what the brass-tax was on this meal?
Thanks for sharing!!
 
3,853
12
Joined May 26, 2001
As you can imagine, I'm kind of embarrassed to spend this much on one meal for 2 people (since it's about what I spend for 2 - 3 MONTHS on groceries), but after all, it was exquisite:

Tasting menus were $118 each;
Accompanying wine flights were $65 each;
Extra wines (sparklers before and dessert after) totaled $70;
Coffee + decaf espresso totaled $7.50

So pre-tax total was :blush: $443.50
Tax rate here is 8.25%
Tip was $100 (which is about 22.5% on food and wine)
 
53
10
Joined Jan 8, 2002
Excellent review- consider goin' pro ;).

My gal and I ate at JG in January of 2001 just before we moved from the Big Apple as a present to ourselves for having survived living there for over two years. Perhaps we set our sights too high, but we felt that it fell a bit flat. There was an excess of nutmeg in just about every course and we felt that the presentation was overly forced. We were seated about 20 minutes late (the complimentary champagne and profuse apoligies made up for that). The wai staff was extremely attentive and we really enjoyed receiving the details and recommended eating instructions from them as the meal progressed. But when it came time to take care of the bill, it took me another good 15 minutes to flag someone down.

I believe my gal had the seasonal tasting menu whereas I opted for the chef's tasting menu. Was probably just a bad night/time, as it sounds like you and yours had a splendid evening

Thanks for the taking the time!
 
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