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Jean Georges – Lunch, November 9th

Jean Georges has been on my radar for some time now. It’s widely renown as one of the best lunch values in the city, as far as high-end dining is concerned.

Steve Dublanica of Waiter Rant met me at 1:00 in Colombus circle and the dining experience was everything I’d hoped it would be. Contrary to popular conceptions about the lunch here, we were both full when we left. That might have had something to do with the fact that the tasting menu allowed two courses for $26, but there was no way I was walking into this NYC landmark and not enjoying everything I was even a smidge excited about.

Steve was rapping with the doorman as I arrived, doing research on his new book on tipping. He’s definitely a people person, which helps in this line of work. He did a post recently on the 100 things that waiters should never do (obviously right up his alley) and I had to agree with most of his sentiments. I can’t speak for him, but I couldn’t see any flaws in the service, aside from the issue I have with being a messy bread eater; no waiter can keep up with the crumbing at my place setting.

We had a few cocktails each, three courses of lunch and two desserts. Here’s the rundown:

Amuse Bouche: (this isn’t on the menu, so this is from memory) Duck consumme with a tiny ravioli (kind of like an upscale wonton soup), a strawberry over raw salmon, and a highfalutin’ jalepeño popper
First Course: Tuna ribbons with avocado, radishes, and a ginger marinade – Foie gras brûlée , dried sour cherries, candied pistachios, and white port gelée
Second Course: Maine Halibut with a chili-garlic emulsion, cucumber and lime РSkate with Ch̢teau Chalon Sauce
Third Course: Roasted Sweetbreads with pickled peach, wild arugala, and pink peppercorn – Red snapper crusted with nuts and seeds, sweet and sour jus
Dessert: Cocoa noodles and white chocolate sorbet in peppermint broth, Chocolate cake with a vanilla bean ice cream – Beet and spiced poached pear with walnuts, sour cream ice cream, and textures of cranberry
After dinner confections: Marshmallows and chocolate

The highlights for me were the Skate and the sweetbreads – Steve loved the tuna ribbons and the halibut. The skate had the most gorgeous salty butter sauce to accompany it and the consistency of the sweetbreads (crispy outside, soft an moist inside) was otherworldly.

The thing that surprised me the most, however, was the marshmallow. Yes, the marshmallow. They were most certainly not an afterthought to the meal . . . more like a parting gift to leave you looking forward to the next time you’re here. Airy and ever-so-slightly firm with a light dusting of the finest confectioner’s sugar that’s ever come across my palate. A parting shot to remind us of life’s simplicities turned extraordinary.

I get the feeling that was the whole goal of eating here.

I’d like to thank Jean Georges for hosting Steve and I today – the entire experience was exquisite. This is the kind of place that bolsters your faith in the Michelin ratings system. If you need to impress someone, I don’t know a more enjoyable time to be had without feeling imposed upon by either the intricacy of the dishes or the efficiency of the staff. Everything seemed effortless. When excellence is practiced to becoming rote, that’s what you get.

Jean Georges
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
(212) 299-3900