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Jean Georges and Nougatine 2009 & Beyond


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Nice report, as always, Bryan.

A few thoughts:

1. Remind me why I DIDN'T order the Medai for lunch the other day. I had this dish last year, when it was presented with a tangy (think white gazpacho-sherry vinegary and sweet) herb emulsion. It was spectacular. I was very curious how the new/present presentation - with a buttermilk sauce tastes.

2. Am I imagining things, or is that duck actually crusted/dusted with dragées?

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I did not try the madai with the herbal emulsion, but I would imagine the two dishes are generally quite similar. What I liked most about the buttermilk addition was how it was simultaneously creamy and tangy. One thinks of sour cream or creme fraiche in this way but somehow the dish tasted more complex.

I'm not familiar with dragees beyond what a little Googling reveals, so I can't say what the crust is made out of. Still, the candied nature was fun without being cloying.

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I did not try the madai with the herbal emulsion, but I would imagine the two dishes are generally quite similar.  What I liked most about the buttermilk addition was how it was simultaneously creamy and tangy.  One thinks of sour cream or creme fraiche in this way but somehow the dish tasted more complex.

The herbal emulsion was creamy too. It was tangy and slightly sweet. I'm imagining the buttermilk emulsion to be a dairy equivalent - maybe even more like white gazpacho than the herbal emulsion.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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sorry for the drift, but looking at the menu above i'm reminded that the arctic char with jalapenos is probably my favorite fish dish of all time.

this remains the best 'cheap' lunch in the city.

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I did not try the madai with the herbal emulsion, but I would imagine the two dishes are generally quite similar.  What I liked most about the buttermilk addition was how it was simultaneously creamy and tangy.  One thinks of sour cream or creme fraiche in this way but somehow the dish tasted more complex.

The herbal emulsion was creamy too. It was tangy and slightly sweet. I'm imagining the buttermilk emulsion to be a dairy equivalent - maybe even more like white gazpacho than the herbal emulsion.

I got to try this dish and was surprised at the level of spice when I had the buttermilk emulsion on it's own. If you just dredge the fish through, eat a grape and some herbs, it's barely noticeable, but if you just take it in pure it's got a lot of heat. This reminded me of the raw fluke with sriracha buttermilk and poppy seeds at Ko, although it's definitely not as good.

Lunch was in fact almost an exercise in deception. The halibut & almond milk with the chilli oil poured all over it looking angry as hell? Not a single ounce of heat (kind of a weird dish in fact). The buttermilk emulsion that looks peaceful as day? Spicy. The Jalapeno that come served with the arctic char? Might as well have been green bell pepper. The tomato compote in the new tenderloin dish? Very spicy. Although now that I look at the photo of the menu, it does say "Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Crunchy Potatoes, Tomato Compote with Chillies and Garlic", so I guess that one was my fault... This dish also comes with sauteed spinach that has basil leaves mixed in so you can't really see them, but can definitely taste them. Not sure I liked it, but its in the running for most filling dish I've had for lunch.

Only other change to the savory menu was the veal, which I don't really ever care to eat. On the dessert menu, the Harvest dessert is off, which contained my favorite Armagnac-Prune Jam (accompanies the donut hole), replaced by a new rhubarb dessert which while cute in some sense has even less substance than other lunch desserts. We were offered fresh fruit for the first time, which we accepted - I got a plate with sliced kiwi, mango, pineapple, oranges, cantaloupe & a couple raspberries. My wife got a selection of berries (black, blue, straw & rasp) which came with non-sweet whipped cream. They were good, but I'll probably hold off until further in the season to order them again.

Alas, still no morels on the lunch menu...

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Lunch was in fact almost an exercise in deception.  The halibut & almond milk with the chilli oil poured all over it looking angry as hell?  Not a single ounce of heat (kind of a weird dish in fact).  The buttermilk emulsion that looks peaceful as day?  Spicy.    The Jalapeno that come served with the arctic char?  Might as well have been green bell pepper.  The tomato compote in the new tenderloin dish?  Very spicy.  Although now that I look at the photo of the menu, it does say "Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Crunchy Potatoes, Tomato Compote with Chillies and Garlic", so I guess that one was my fault...  This dish also comes with sauteed spinach that has basil leaves mixed in so you can't really see them, but can definitely taste them.  Not sure I liked it, but its in the running for most filling dish I've had for lunch.

I'll add to that deception the crab salad I noted above. I had not expected (nor was I disappointed) that the pacific-looking cake of creamy crab would nearly singe off my nose-hairs.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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2. Am I imagining things, or is that duck actually crusted/dusted with dragées?

Would JG mimic Passard's pigeon like that, I wonder?

The reason I brought that up is because I recalled seeing a recipe in one of Vongerichten's cookbooks for duck crusted with dragées (and, if I'm not imagining things [or mis-remembering], I recall seeing it on his menu as such a couple of years ago).

I just went through all of his cookbooks and couldn't find it. Then, I realized that I have one ("Simple to Specatular") on loan to a friend (but, for some reason, I don't think that recipe is that book).

Heading to Google, here's what I found.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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2. Am I imagining things, or is that duck actually crusted/dusted with dragées?

Would JG mimic Passard's pigeon like that, I wonder?

The reason I brought that up is because I recalled seeing a recipe in one of Vongerichten's cookbooks for duck crusted with dragées (and, if I'm not imagining things [or mis-remembering], I recall seeing it on his menu as such a couple of years ago).

I just went through all of his cookbooks and couldn't find it. Then, I realized that I have one ("Simple to Specatular") on loan to a friend (but, for some reason, I don't think that recipe is that book).

Heading to Google, here's what I found.

Yep, that's definitely Passard's pigeon/dragee/hydromel.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Comments on some of the new menu additions:

*The Madai sashimi treatment has changed - now served with a rhubard semifreddo and sichuan peppercorn vinaigrette. The semifreddo was quite sweet and the sichuan peppercorns were lurking imperceptibly in the background, so this was lacking the classic JG acid/heat balance.

*The gulf shrimp with melon and carrot/lime broth and wasabi is a classic - everything you could want in a single dish. The broth was almost completely savory due to the pronounced lime component, the melon and wasabi integrated beautifully, and the shrimp was perfectly cooked.

*Sweetbreads with pickled asparagus, coriander and orange - a shockingly small plate even by JG standards but a total winner - perfectly cooked hot crispy salty sweetbreads balanced by an herbal puree, sharpness from the asparagus, and a faint hit of citrus. Salt intolerant eaters may have a problem with this dish.

I usually request a sampler of ice creams and sorbets as an alternative to dessert, but they were having problems with their freezing equipment so this wasn't an option, and the caramel dessert was a complete throwaway. Still, two home runs on the savory side made for a very satisfying lunch.

Edited by Robin Meredith (log)
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Yesterday, I finally got to try lunch at Jean Georges (blog post here). Most of us know the drill: two courses for $28, each additional course $14. They've been offering that deal for quite a while. It is not a recession special.

I expected to find a quiet restaurant. After all, if they're serving four-star food for $28, they must be having trouble filling the seats. To the contrary, the room was full. No one should tell Vongerichten, but I have to figure the well-dressed crowd would still have been there if the price were higher. Nougatine was full too, where the prix fixe is just four dollars less.

Lunch at JG is an even better deal than I thought, because it includes the full line-up of amuses-bouches and petits-fours they serve at dinner. It's not a dumbed-down menu, either. At some restaurants, the prix fixe offers just soup or salad to start, chicken or salmon for the main course. I counted twenty-one choices, including quite a few that I recognized from the dinner menu.

There were a couple of weak spots, as there have always been at Vongerichten restaurants: a chicken broth amuse-bouche that tasted like dishwater; an asparagus appetizer that was pedestrian. But my red snapper entrée was terrific, and the foie gras brulee must be the best foie dish in the city.

Because of its occasional misfires, Jean Georges has always seemed to me the weakest of the four-star restaurants—not weak in the absolute sense, but the one least likely to deliver a stellar meal without stumbling. I have to admit it is growing on me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We had lunch for my birthday at Jean Georges today, adding a shared foie gras brulee and a shared dessert to the standard menu, along with 3 oz. pours with each savoury course (the 12.50 chassagne-montrachet that we had with the foie gras was extremely good, we thought).

Like Oakapple, JG is starting to grow on me. I had dined there five years ago as a summer associate at a law firm, and had thought the brulee foie was bad. This time I was impressed, and I can't quite tell whether it was a result of a maturation of my taste or the wine or just being wrong the first time around. But to me, the star of the show was the frog's legs with garlic soup. I could eat that soup every day, with frog's legs or snails, or anything else, and I'd be happy.

And I can't possibly complain about the price. 3 glasses of very good wine each, a full lunch, along with the mignardises and and amuse (a terrific mozzarella with dehydrated pineaplle, peekytoe crab fritter, and herb soup) for $160, with tax and tip.

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I can't quite tell whether it was a result of a maturation of my taste or the wine or just being wrong the first time around.

The difference between going somewhere with friends or an SO on your birthday and enduring a horribly awkward summer associate lunch?

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I can't quite tell whether it was a result of a maturation of my taste or the wine or just being wrong the first time around.

The difference between going somewhere with friends or an SO on your birthday and enduring a horribly awkward summer associate lunch?

Fair enough. Though I recall that the actual associate had to leave, and I was left there with some law school buddies, which is the best possible situation.

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I'm curious what some of the more regular JG lunchers think of the newer late spring/early summer sets of dishes on the menu. So far we've tried:

Warm White Asparagus, Herb Vinaigrette & Lemon Breadcrumbs

Gulf Shrimp with Smoked Bacon, Papaya Mustard & Avocado

Slowly Cooked Salmon, Buttery Ramp Ravioli & Rhubarb Compote

Slowly Cooked Maine Halibut, Chili-Garlic Emulsion, Cucumber & Lime ($8 Supplement)

The White Asparagus is literally the first dish I have ever returned at a fine dining restaurant, I eat pretty much anything, but two bites in I just couldn't eat it. The asparagus was waaaaaay overcooked, the knife came down and the long fibers just relented and squished out under the knife, sending whatever water was in them squishing out onto the plate. The breadcrumbs tasted of broken butter and the vinaigrette was seethingly strong. Curiously, I was still charged for it (we always order more than the standard 2 lunch dishes) despite returning it two bites in.

The Gulf Shrimp with bacon was delicious, but the papaya side was once again completely inedible as it tasted like vomit. I love papaya, grew up in a country where it's a very common fruit and have eaten it all my life. I never understood the people that think it's tastes "vomity", but I can't say that after today. The addition of mustard was just weird, but hard to blame that on the mustard.

Both the fish dishes were decent. The salmon was offered to us medium-rare, but arrived rare (not a problem). The portion of fish and ravioli were very generous, so no complaints there, it was just the pairing that didn't seem particularly inspired - or particularly "Jean George-y" for that matter. The halibut was paired with delicious mashed potatoes, which were in turned topped with cucumber noodles/laces. Mashed potatoes aren't something that I think exactly need the addition of cucumbers, I just separated the two. The chili-garlic emulsion continued my trend of getting no heat out of super spicy looking items, it came in the form of a red/orange foam that covered the fish entirely, yet barely had any taste.

The two highlights were the ever solid tuna ribbons and the (IMO) very underrated Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Caramelized Baby Artichokes and Parsley. The latter is, I believe a relatively new dish (winter?) and has a wonderful balance of textures, saltiness/brinyness and paired very well with an inexpensive glass of NZ Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the end, our style of going after the new stuff hasn't paid off so far this season, but I'm curious what others think.

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Two questions:

(1) What do you think accounts for the supplement on the halibut?

(2) Did you object to being charged for a dish you sent back? (I would have!) If not, why not?

OK, maybe that's three - <Monty Python mode>no four, four questions!</Monty Python mode> :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The White Asparagus is literally the first dish I have ever returned at a fine dining restaurant, I eat pretty much anything, but two bites in I just couldn't eat it.  The asparagus was waaaaaay overcooked, the knife came down and the long fibers just relented and squished out under the knife, sending whatever water was in them squishing out onto the plate.  The breadcrumbs tasted of broken butter and the vinaigrette was seethingly strong.  Curiously, I was still charged for it (we always order more than the standard 2 lunch dishes) despite returning it two bites in.

I'm assuming they did not replace this dish. Correct?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I had the shrimp/bacon/avocado/papaya mustard last summer. It was the first dish I'd had at jean-georges and I loved it. well, i loved the papaya mustard, specifically. the shrimp/bacon/avocado was actually very similar to dishes i've had before at other palces. maybe JG invented it, but it wasn't as exciting. the papaya mustard totally elevated the dish as a whole for me. maybe someone dropped something into the pot the day you went.

i also want to know why that halibut has a supplement on it…seems like a pretty regular dish to me.

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Two questions:

(1) What do you think accounts for the supplement on the halibut?

(2) Did you object to being charged for a dish you sent back? (I would have!) If not, why not?

OK, maybe that's three - <Monty Python mode>no four, four questions!</Monty Python mode> :biggrin:

1) No clue. To this day I'm not even sure why the scallops have a supplement. I'm guessing it's cause halibut is a pricey fish? The portion was a nice one.

2) I did not, compared to the disappointing meal it was of minor consequence, I shouldn't even have mentioned it. I recall an instance in the past where I was undercharged at JG and pointed it out to the house, mistakes happen. Although we were charged $54 somewhere in there (I ordered 4 dishes), and there was no -$14 at the end, we did not go through the bill in any detail, it was a long bill and they may have made the correction elsewhere. I take the blame here, the disappointing meal was by far the bigger issue.

3) UE - our server offered a replacement, even went and fetched a menu. I declined. I was already going to be getting a "4th", making my wife wait one extra course with no food. I did not want to make her wait 2 courses for me. He then went over to the captain and communicated the issue. This part was handled decently IMO, even if the captain didn't make any sort of acknowledgment himself.

4) Glad to hear the report on the papaya mustard dish. I really did love the shrimp, enough that I may even order it again :-) That one I'll feel safe to chalk up to personal taste then.

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The Gulf Shrimp with bacon was delicious, but the papaya side was once again completely inedible as it tasted like vomit.  I love papaya, grew up in a country where it's a very common fruit and have eaten it all my life.  I never understood the people that think it's tastes "vomity", but I can't say that after today.  The addition of mustard was just weird, but hard to blame that on the mustard.

That's a pretty strong reaction to papaya, my friend. Yikes.

Have you had this dish in any of its prior incarnations? I had this about three years ago. At that time, it was served with a passion fruit mustard. (CLICK - sorry for the pallor color in that photo: entirely my fault, not Jean Georges.)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just walked in today for a late lunch at the bar at JG.....I called maybe 1 hour ahead to confirm walk-in availability, and could have sworn they said that either menu could be served at the bar....however, when I sat, I was only handed the Nougatine menu. I was intrigued enough by the offerings to just go with it.

Couldn't decide between the snapper with lily bulb-radish salad, white sesame and lavender and the cod with carrot, peas and asparagus, so decided I'd simply have to try them both. Bread came along, was hardly two bites in before the snapper arrived.

The snapper is one of those memorable dishes where I think I'll be able to remember the 1st bite for a long time.....crisp skin, moist flesh, fine slivers of mild ginger mixed with the crunchy radishes, lily bulbs, and what I thought were sea beans (?), all resting in a creamy pool of sauce (rich, but fortunately balanced with some acidity). Only complaint is that I initially found it a tad too salty, but my taste buds adjusted.

After such a great start, it seems nearly inevitable that the second dish didn't live up to what I was hoping for.....it was solid, but not nearly as innovative or pleasing as the 1st dish. Nicely cooked piece of pink cod rested in a wide pool of creamy carrot sauce, vibrant green peas, and slices of tangy artichokes (soaked in lemon water, perhaps?) In any case, it seems like something I might be able to find elsewhere- as I said, maybe my expectations were inflated too much by the 1st dish (and the hunger at that initial point :wink: .)

Finished with flourless chocolate cake, which I rarely have. I know molten chocolate cakes get a bad rap for being pedestrian, but damn, it hit the spot. After paying the bill, and was chatting with one of the bartenders about the main dining room menu, and inquired what petit fours were being served post-meal. She kindly offered to bring me a plate of them. Six adorably tiny macaroons (my favorite was what I think was apricot) and a few chocolates. It was a lovely gesture that I hastily had to tuck into a bag (had completely lost track to time).....but sampling the macaroons this evening was a treat. What can I say, I like cute food.

I don't know when I'll have the opportunity to lunch like this again, but next time, with a little planning, I hope to make it to the main dining room and order off the full JG menu. The hospitality and the extraordinary nature of the the snapper have me looking forward to the visit!

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Finished with flourless chocolate cake, which I rarely have. I know molten chocolate cakes get a bad rap for being pedestrian, but damn, it hit the spot. After paying the bill, and was chatting with one of the bartenders about the main dining room menu, and inquired what petit fours were being served post-meal. She kindly offered to bring me a plate of them. Six adorably tiny macaroons (my favorite was what I think was apricot) and a few chocolates. It was a lovely gesture that I hastily had to tuck into a bag (had completely lost track to time).....but sampling the macaroons this evening was a treat. What can I say, I like cute food.

Let not forget that the Jean Georges molten chocolate cake is the original.

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Finished with flourless chocolate cake, which I rarely have. I know molten chocolate cakes get a bad rap for being pedestrian, but damn, it hit the spot. After paying the bill, and was chatting with one of the bartenders about the main dining room menu, and inquired what petit fours were being served post-meal. She kindly offered to bring me a plate of them. Six adorably tiny macaroons (my favorite was what I think was apricot) and a few chocolates. It was a lovely gesture that I hastily had to tuck into a bag (had completely lost track to time).....but sampling the macaroons this evening was a treat. What can I say, I like cute food.

Let not forget that the Jean Georges molten chocolate cake is the original.

Seth, there is considerable debate as to who's molten chocolate cake is the original. While J-G is the one who seems to have popularized it in the US, few give him credit for being the originator of the cake. The name that I have most often heard associated with it is Michel Bras. Regardless, J-G's is great and can serve it forever as far as I am concerned.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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