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Jean Georges and Nougatine 2005 - 2008


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My wife and I will be going to JG for dinner 2 Saturdays from now - first time there.  Any tips on getting the best experience possible?  Any must-orders, stay-away-froms, best tables, etc?

My two cents. Others may disagree:

Must-orders: definitely the foie gras brulee if going a la carte; or scallops with caper-raisin emulsion, egg caviar, turbot, molten chocolate, etc....the JG classic tasting menu since it's your first visit.

Stay-away-from: Venison with cabrales foam and broccoli rabe, black bass crusted with nuts and seeds in a sweet & sour jus (I know other eG'ers have enjoyed this dish, but it just didn't do much for me)

Just go with your gut. The menu is not a minefield by any means. Very, very solid restaurant. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful meal regardless of what you order.

Fascinating. The scallops, turbot and caviar egg were among the weakest courses I've had at Jean Georges. Whereas, I absolutely loved the seed and nut-encrusted sea bass.

While I've not had it, the venison with Cabrales and rabe sounds great... things to look forward to! (tupac, can you explain what didn't work for you on this dish?)

The chocolate molten cake is classic. No disagreements here on that one! :raz:

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Caveat: I should mention that my previous statement about the scallops was a little misleading. My disappointment with that dish was more due to the presentation and execution - sloppy - rather than the actual flavors and combination. In fact, I loved the way it tasted. The scallops were just a tad overdone, as I recall. I should also say that I had this course at Jean-Georges Shanghai, and not at the one in New York. Sorry. :blush:

“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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I love that scallops dish....yeah, people have copied it everywhere...but the original is still really really good.

JG Shanghai is not a JG restaurant. It is a franchise. He was paid for his name, the recipes and for staff training. It is not part of the JG empire.

(with that said, I know many people that swear by it)

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JG Shanghai is not a JG restaurant.  It is a franchise.  He was paid for his name, the recipes and for staff training.  It is not part of the JG empire.

(with that said, I know many people that swear by it)

JG Shanghai is listed as a JG restaurant on the JG website. If there is a particular distinction between JG Shanghai and any of the other dozen-or-so restaurants where he was paid for his "name, recipes and training," it is not apparent. Edited by oakapple (log)
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I was specifically told this by someone within the JG empire....who was in a position to know.

edit: of course, this information may be inaccurate....but this was what I was told by someone "in the know" (i.e. not a busboy)

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Fascinating.  The scallops, turbot and caviar egg were among the weakest courses I've had at Jean Georges.  Whereas, I absolutely loved the seed and nut-encrusted sea bass. 

While I've not had it, the venison with Cabrales and rabe sounds great... things to look forward to!  (tupac, can you explain what didn't work for you on this dish?)

The chocolate molten cake is classic.  No disagreements here on that one!  :raz:

Whoops! I think I ought to clarify. I wasn't saying the scallops, turbot and egg caviar were among the best dishes I've had at JG (FWIW, I did enjoy them, but I've yet to find anything at JG that really blows me away). Just that they are some of the dishes that comprise the "JG Classics" tasting menu that is available at dinner, and if it's my first time at a particular restaurant, I often find I'd like to find out what made that restaurant notable in the first place. Trying to gauge what the restaurant is all about, so the speak.

The venison was a tad overcooked (read: closer to medium than the medium rare I'd ordered). Still tender. The flavor pairing to me did not have enough balance. The quince puree was not enough to counteract the much stronger cabrales foam, whose flavor just seemed to assault everything else on the plate flavor-wise. The undersalted broccoli rabe seemed like an afterthought.

Also, the best dessert I think I've had there is not the molten chocolate cake (I'm not really a chocolate guy), thought that is indeed a classic. It was a "Winter" dessert last year: butternut squash souffle, prune-armagnac ice cream, poire william gelee, pear and chocolate praline mousse cake. Hot damn that was good.

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Also, the best dessert I think I've had there is not the molten chocolate cake (I'm not really a chocolate guy), thought that is indeed a classic.  It was a "Winter" dessert last year: butternut squash souffle, prune-armagnac ice cream, poire william gelee, pear and chocolate praline mousse cake.  Hot damn that was good.

I had lunch of JG yesterday and had the "Winter" dessert. The sweet potato cake was really good but I wasn't thrilled with the other pieces...can't remember what they were off hand.

I also had the foie gras brulee, which was amazing as usual. The squab while flavorful, I found difficult to cut. Don't know if it's the knife or the tendons. Or maybe I'm trying to eat too much off the bone! :biggrin:

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I agree on the squab. Tasty, but kind of difficult to eat.

The classic menu is a good way to go since it's, well, classic. I enjoyed the venison dish, but like all other venison in the city, it tastes like beef. I really enjoyed the cabrales foam but agree that the rabe seemed an afterthought to add some green to the plate.

The foie is the only dish in NYC that I'll order without fail time and time again.

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The venison was a tad overcooked (read: closer to medium than the medium rare I'd ordered).  Still tender.  The flavor pairing to me did not have enough balance.  The quince puree was not enough to counteract the much stronger cabrales foam, whose flavor just seemed to assault everything else on the plate flavor-wise.  The undersalted broccoli rabe seemed like an afterthought.

I agree with you--the venison is a bit over-cooked (medium) for that cut, and the Cabrales foam is a little strong for the dish. Scallops are also cooked more than what I prefer, but it's still a good dish. (And yeah--we tried to copy it when we got home. :smile: ) The hamachi starter is probably what I enjoyed most of the dishes we tried.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just ate at JG on Sat, and had a very odd experience -- I have never eaten at a restaurant at this caliber and had an abysmal dessert experience! Had the signature menu, and most everything was wonderful (though yes, that squab was very tough to cut) - especially the wine service, for which I am very appreciative. However, had the winter and late harvest desserts, and there wasn't an item in either tasting that was worth consuming! How on earth is that possible? The biggest problem: it was as if there was no sugar in the restaurant that evening! Imagine if someone tried to cook a whole meal without salt - well, that was the effect on these desserts. We *almost* felt like sending them back (which I have never done - it would have seemed so odd!), but it absolutely spoiled the effect of the meal, and I would be hard-pressed to fully recommend them because of the truly bad note on which the meal ended. If I were to go back (and I'm not sure I would, right now), I don't even know how I would be able to since each ordering option includes dessert, and I would be inclined to order everything BUT and then finish up the evening with dessert elsewhere. How is this 4 star?

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Just ate at JG on Sat, and had a very odd experience -- I have never eaten at a restaurant at this caliber and had an abysmal dessert experience!  Had the signature menu, and most everything was wonderful (though yes, that squab was very tough to cut) - especially the wine service, for which I am very appreciative.  However, had the winter and late harvest desserts, and there wasn't an item in either tasting that was worth consuming!  How on earth is that possible?  The biggest problem: it was as if there was no sugar in the restaurant that evening!  Imagine if someone tried to cook a whole meal without salt - well, that was the effect on these desserts.  We *almost* felt like sending them back (which I have never done - it would have seemed so odd!), but it absolutely spoiled the effect of the meal, and I would be hard-pressed to fully recommend them because of the truly bad note on which the meal ended.  If I were to go back (and I'm not sure I would, right now), I don't even know how I would be able to since each ordering option includes dessert, and I would be inclined to order everything BUT and then finish up the evening with dessert elsewhere.  How is this 4 star?

Interesting critique and the first of its kind that I have heard or read for this restaurant. It would seem that it was either an unlucky aberration on the part of the restaurant, a new style of dessert for the restaurant or a disconnect between dessert sweetness expectations between you, your party and the restaurant. My own experience at J-G with desserts has been that I thought they were superb and in line with the style of the rest of the cuisine. Just to get a better gauge, how sweet do you generally prefer your desserts to be?

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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I was specifically told this by someone within the JG empire....who was in a position to know.

edit: of course, this information may be inaccurate....but this was what I was told by someone "in the know" (i.e. not a busboy)

That seems a bit strange nathan i worked in shanghai 2005, 2006 as head chef in another top end restaurant there and i spent a fair bit of time talking to the chef, eric at ShanghaiJG, and had a number of fanastic meals there and i can assure you its a John George Restaurant serving a number of the same dishes as NY

Alo if i m not wrong Eric the head Chef has been with JG for about 8 or 9 years including a long stint at JGNY and then if my memory serves me correct opened a number of other JG restaurants in europe?

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I know the menu is almost identical.

I know that some of the staff came from JG.

What I was told was that they essentially licensed the name, the dishes and the right to hire JG staff.

Like I noted, I can't vouch for its ultimate accuracy. (neither do I think it really matters exactly what the actual business arrangement is)

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I don't think it's necessary to get into the details of the business arrangement, as you said. I can assure you though that Jean-Georges, myself, and everyone else involved consider JG Shanghai a JG restaurant. A bit farther away is all...

Eric

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Just to get a better gauge, how sweet do you generally prefer your desserts to be?

Not very, in fact (and I do some pastry work for special clients, periodically). "Cloying" is my most frequent complaint with desserts. This was truly a bizarre situation - I have never had "sweets" that were so... not. My male dining companion also was baffled. What was even more strange was that since these are samplings of desserts, there were essentially 8 different ones (with multiple components per), and out of them all, I would say only one sorbet was worthwhile (the cumin one) - the rest, a waste of time and calories. The reason I posted this was because of how really odd and truly disappointing this was.

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For what it's worth, I've never really enjoyed a dessert at JG and have decided to quit ordering them since the rest of the meal is usually such a pleasure. The signature molten chocolate cake was fine, but not better than versions I've had elsewhere.

On the other hand, I really enjoy the tiny macarons and the chocolates, which are a fine substitute for dessert.

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Just to get a better gauge, how sweet do you generally prefer your desserts to be?

Not very, in fact (and I do some pastry work for special clients, periodically).  "Cloying" is my most frequent complaint with desserts.  This was truly a bizarre situation - I have never had "sweets" that were so... not.  My male dining companion also was baffled.  What was even more strange was that since these are samplings of desserts, there were essentially 8 different ones (with multiple components per), and out of them all, I would say only one sorbet was worthwhile (the cumin one) - the rest, a waste of time and calories.  The reason I posted this was because of how really odd and truly disappointing this was.

I'm not sure from reading your initial post on this, but was this the first time that you dined at J-G? If not how long has it been since you last dined there and how were the desserts different? I am curious, because I have always enjoyed the desserts very much and know of no particular reason for a change in style or format. Obviously people can and do have different tastes and preferences, although yours sound akin to my own. My sense is that your experience may have been an aberration for whatever reason.

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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  • 3 weeks later...

I hadn't been to JG in over a year. It's one of those places that has been around so long that it sort of falls off the radar screen amidst all the new choices available. I had friends visiting NYC who wanted to try it, so we went yesterday for lunch and did a 4 course tasting plus dessert.

My thoughts:

1. It is still the best bargain in the city for high end food at lunch. A four course tasting plus dessert is about $60 before tax and tip.

2. The food and service meet or exceed anything on offer in NYC. JG still sets its own standard in terms of creativity and quality.

3. The service was flawless. On top of everything yet not obtrusive in any way. I asked the sommelier to pair wines, and his picks couldn't have been better.

4. I hate to admit all of this, given the hype surrounding the rest of the JG empire, and the mediocrity of the food he puts out at his other establishments. But damn, the meal kicked serious ass in every aspect.

Side note: The chef was in house and all over the place. He was at the front desk when I arrived, greeted a of number tables, and was watching all aspects of service like a hawk. Perhaps the flack in the press and on the web about absentee chefs is finally registering with the big boys.

Edited by Felonius (log)
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2.  The food and service meet or exceed anything on offer in NYC.  ADNY(RIP) and Per Se are better, but at three times the price.  Even considering those two, JG still sets its own standard in terms of creativity and quality. 

In My opinion the food at JG has better flavors

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2.  The food and service meet or exceed anything on offer in NYC.  ADNY(RIP) and Per Se are better, but at three times the price.  Even considering those two, JG still sets its own standard in terms of creativity and quality.  

In My opinion the food at JG has better flavors

Upon thinking more about it, my preference for Ducasse is really a matter of style. I'm generally not as into restaurants that tend to push the edge in terms of flavor combinations, as I am into harmony. I'd take Mozart over Stravinsky on most days, and Ducasse over Jean-Georges. However, I respect and enjoy both.

I do believe Jean-Georges is operating at the top level, so my ADNY/Pe Se comments were contradictory. I've deleted them from my previous post.

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2.  The food and service meet or exceed anything on offer in NYC.  ADNY(RIP) and Per Se are better, but at three times the price.  Even considering those two, JG still sets its own standard in terms of creativity and quality.  

In My opinion the food at JG has better flavors

Upon thinking more about it, my preference for Ducasse is really a matter of style. I'm generally not as into restaurants that tend to push the edge in terms of flavor combinations, as I am into harmony. I'd take Mozart over Stravinsky on most days, and Ducasse over Jean-Georges. However, I respect and enjoy both.

I do believe Jean-Georges is operating at the top level, so my ADNY/Pe Se comments were contradictory. I've deleted them from my previous post.

Sorry I ment JG is Better the Per Se not ADNY

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  • 1 month later...

Well, everything is an adventure with us, and Thursday night was no exception. We were going to see the opening of a Rossini opera at Lincoln Center ("La Donna del Lago"), and it seemed that foie gras and truffles were in order. But since I don't know of any place that serves Tournedos Rossini, we went to Jean-Georges to have them separately, but in the same meal at least.

The problem was that the opera was starting at the ungodly hour of 7:30, and we needed to start eating the second Jean-Georges opened at 5:30. They were great about it, and promised to do their best to get us out in time. Of course, we needed to confine ourselves to the 3-course menu, and we'd have felt cheated, but we had just had the "Jean-Georges" menu ten days earlier, so we were fine.

But, we didn't quite make it, and therein lies the tale.

These are available-light photos, and while not up to our own standards, some are pretty good.

We began with the Amuse-bouches, a salmon concept, a grapefruit and roquefort spoon, and a (if I remember correctly) lime and something soup (last time was a mushroom concept with truffle emuslion that was other wordly, however):

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Next was the sublime Foie Gras Brulé with Dried Sour Cherries, Candied Pistachios,and White Port Gelée:

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At this point, Jean-Georges, who knew that we spend a lot of time in Alsace, came over to chat, which delayed us a bit, and he said he'd return later to talk some more.

Then came the dish that will linger for a very long time, the Pan Roasted Sweetbreads with Glazed Chestnuts and Black Truffle Vinaigrette:

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I'm not sure that either words or pictures can do it justice. We were in a state of stupefaction.

Although the main courses should have come next, Jean-Georges sent over an additional course, which was delicious but which delayed us all the more, a Goat Cheese foam with some kinds of Pistachios and Beets:

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The main courses were next. I had the Smoked Pigeon a L'Orange with Asian Pear and Candied Tamarind:

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This was ethereal. I had had the Broiled Pigeon with Onion Compote, Corn Pancake, and Foie Gras last time, and would happily spend the rest of my life eating one or the other (as long as the sweetbreads were involved).

My partner and photographer had the Loin of Lamb Dusted with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, and Baby Leeks:

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He also filmed its tableside presentation, and you can watch the video here.

The lamb was accompanied by a very lovely Potato Galette:

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As I was demolishing the last of the Pigeon, our waiter came over to say that it was already 7 pm and we wouldn't make it and suggested that we return after the opera for dessert, so we did, finishing up and making a mad dash out.

The opera, sadly, was not great. While a great Rossini performance could certainly have followed this meal, and in fact that was the idea, this did not quite make it. Luckily we were both able to daydream about our Sweetbreads to take our mind off the less than stellar singing, so we decided to duck out at the intermission and head back to the restaurant.

Sadly, Jean-Georges had left, so we never got to speak with him more or to take a photo with him to send back to our friends in Strasbourg.

But then the dessert procession started. At this point in the evening there was very little available light available for the photos, though.

We had one Winter and one Late Harvest:

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Winter, above: Warm Sweet Potato Cake, Cranberries, Dates; Vanilla Ice Cream (substituted for the Pumpkin Ice Cream); Chestnut Sugar Tart, crème Fraîche (though it doesn't look like that to me); and Granny Smith Apple Sorbet, Quine, Qunioa, and Pecans.

Late Harvest, below: Crispy Spiced Chocolate, Beet Parfait, Yogurt Powder; Warm Semolina Pancake, Poached Pears, Cumin; Sautéed Apples, Olive Oil Sponge, Maple Brown Butter Ice Cream; Pomegranite Sorbet:

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And then some assorted petits fours:

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It was a most, most enjoyable meal, except for the intrusion of the opera. We had kept our drinking to moderation, with several glasses of the delicious Alsace Pinot Gris of Paul Blanck, and the very delicious Mommessin Beaun Les Grèves, though maybe drinking in lesser moderation might have helped the performance.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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