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Jean Georges and Nougatine 2005 - 2008


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The original purpose of my trip to NYC last week was to egt together with friends for a special occassion and then to dine around and meet some new friends. I did meet some new friends as can be seen here, albeit in an unexpected way.

One of the special occassions was to celebrate the birthdays of some friends with lunch at Jean-Georges. Unfortunately, this required me to miss part of the Congress. While I very much hated to miss the demonstrations by Pierre Herme, Morimoto, Josh DeChellis and Wylie Dufresne, the company at lunch and the lunch itself more than made up for it

I have said before and I will say again, lunch at Jean-Georges has to be amongst the greatest bargains in the world of haute cuisine. As of last Wednesday, the current pricing is $28 for the required two courses then $12 for each additional course. I had a sandwich at Starwich two days earlier that cost more than one of these courses!

In his recent review MobyP, a palate I greatly respect with culinary sensibilities I consider similar to my own was not at all pleased with his meal here, claiming that the flavors were out of balance with too much acid and spice. I will say that the food here does not shy away from either acid or spice. The flavors are strong and assertive. They are bold and in my opinion brilliant. I was not chewing the food looking for every subtle nuance of flavor. I was too busy swooning over the flavors that were bursting in my mouth. That is not to say that MobyP's opinion is wrong. He had the meal that he did and reacted to it in the way he did. I can see that someone with a preference for subtlety of flavor might feel that way, even if I don't.

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We started with atrio of amuses with instructions to eat from right to left. In that order they were Hamachi with Shiso Leaf and Jalapeno-orange Puree, Peeky-toe Crab Spring Roll with Pickled Romaine Heart, and Baked Potato Soup While I enjoyed the first two very much, the baked potato soup was the star of this round. It contained the flavor essence of the perfectly composed baked potato - perfectly flavored comfort food in a novel setting, much like what Jose Andres does with his cuisine at minibar.

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House made Lemon-Verbena Soda

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House made Cherry-Yuzu Soda.

The sodas here are really flavorful and a good alternative to alcoholic accompaniments for the food. I can see that this might be one of the elements here attractive to Ulterior Epicure. I had a nicely made Negroni cocktail to start.

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Gulf Shrimp and Smoked bacon, Passion Fruit Mustard, Avocado

This dish was not subtle. It was, however, profoundly delicious.

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Bluefin Tuna ribbons, Avocado, Spicy Radish, Ginger Marinade

This was not one of my dishes, but I did get to taste it. I have had a lot of bluefin tuna lately (I know - pity me :raz: )and this was amongst the best that I tasted.

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Charred Corn Ravioli, Basil Fondue, Cherry Tomato Salad

This dish was simply sensational, totally redolant of the end-of-summer seaason. Not only was this the dish of the meal, it was one of the finest I have had this year or perhaps ever. The smoky corn blended beautifully with the sweetness of the basil fondue and the acid of the tomatoes. I think the beauty of the plate speaks for itself as well.

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Black Sea Bass Crusted with Nuts and Seeds, Sweet and Sour Jus

This was perhaps my least favorite dish of the afternoon. The fish itself was delicious, but the combination of vegetables, as well prepared as they were, were not as harmoniuos as some of the other dishes. It didn't help that it followed the ravioli either as almost anything was bound to pale after that.

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Our service throughout the meal was knowledgeable, courteous, and efficient. We were neither left wanting nor annoyed. This is the kind of service I think of when I think of classic four-star service.

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Sauteed Maine Lobster, Artichoke Hearts and Citrus-Chili Emulsion

This dish was aggressively spiced. While it worked, I wouldn't have minded it toned down just a little bit to let the underlying ingredients shine a little more.

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Ponzi MV 2004 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

For the first couiple of seafood/vegetable courses we shared a nice Puligny Montrachet, the specific bottling of which escapes my memory. This wine, specifically bottled for J-G and reasonably priced matched up nicely with the remainder of the meal from the lobster on.

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Caramelized Sweetbreads, Fragrant Pickled Peach, Licorice and Basil

The licorice was quite subtle. I love sweetbreads and this did not disappoint.

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Heirloom Tomato and Seared Beef Tenderloin Salad, Fresh Wasabi and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

This was not my dish either, although I tasted it. It was good, though the tenderloin was somewhat overpowereed by the rest of the ingredients.

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We had two different samplers of dessert totalling each dessert on the menu.

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Strawberry Consomme, Litchi Gelee, Anise Hyssop Granite

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Strawberry Shortcake, Creme Chantilly, Verjus

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Jean-Georges' Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Ice Cream

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Granite, Gelee, Coffee-Cardamom Meringue

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Chocolate-Almond, Apricot Compote

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Chocolate Fig Tart, Almond, Mascarpone

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Grilled Fig, Raspberry Sangria, Cilantro

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Local Peaches, Pistachios, Farmers Cheese, Balsamic

The desserts were a wonderful over-the-top way to finish a stellar meal. Johnny Iuzzini and his crew continue to do wonderful work composing beautiful dishes and great flavors. Of all of the desserts the Chocolate Fig tart was probably my favorite out of a fabulous sampling. I did get to see Johnny Iuzzini when I went back to the Congress and got to thank him personally for a job well done by his crew. :cool: While he was at the Congress, Jean-Georges himself was at the restaurant. I also had the chance at the end of the meal to convey my appreciation to him and his staff.

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Of course that wasn't the end of the meal! We each stuffed a few mignardises into our sated bellies. I particularly enjoyed the grapefruit marshmallow.

After lunch and running into Bruce Willis on my way back from the rest room, I hightailed it back down to the Congress to catch the bulk of Sam Mason's presentation. I missed a lot, but at least I ate very well in the process.

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

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Oh Doc.. What would we do without you! Wonderful report and thanks for sharing with all.

Thanks, Robert. I hope we don't find out for quite some time! :laugh:

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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Oh Doc.. What would we do without you! Wonderful report and thanks for sharing with all.

Thanks, Robert. I hope we don't find out for quite some time! :laugh:

Great report Doc and incredible, clear photos!!!

A question about the Baked Potato Soup. Is that a piece of the Potato on top? And secondly, the broth appears thin, is that true?

Interesting soup - I would love to attempt a crack at making some.

Thanks.

Rich Schulhoff

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Oh Doc.. What would we do without you! Wonderful report and thanks for sharing with all.

Thanks, Robert. I hope we don't find out for quite some time! :laugh:

Great report Doc and incredible, clear photos!!!

A question about the Baked Potato Soup. Is that a piece of the Potato on top? And secondly, the broth appears thin, is that true?

Interesting soup - I would love to attempt a crack at making some.

Thanks.

Thanks, Rich. The soup was in fact very thin. We asked about the "topping" of the soup and was told that it was butter. I imagine that it was butter that had other elements incorporated into it. I cannot begin to imagine how they achieved the flavors they did in this soup.

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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The waiter described the topping as a "butter puree," though it tasted like it had potato in it. Maybe they're calling it "butter puree" because it was more butter than potato. I believe he said that the stock was made from the very well baked potato shells. He said that entire process was somewhat lengthy.

Edited by JosephB (log)
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I had the same amuse on Saturday night and the potato soup was my favorite of the trio as well. It was described to me by our waiter as a butter 'foam', which I didn't think was accurate...but very very tasty.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Doc,

That meal looked fantastic!!! The bluefin tuna ribbons looked sublime. The more I see of Johnny I's work, the more I think that he is at the top of the heap. I am surprised that Moby did not get a meal there to his liking, because I have not heard that king of response. Any restaurant can have an off day unfortunately. Augieland has a nice meal that he had at JGV here and here. When I get up that way lunch at JG is a must.

Molto E

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Doc,

When I get up that way lunch at JG is a must.

Molto E

I would strongly suggest it. I think I have a sense of what you like and I think you would love this.

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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Bravo docsconz!! Wonderful report... I remember some of those dishes well! :raz: Those juice-sodas really do look great! You're right - I'd be all over that!

Any personal favorites?

u.e.

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Bravo docsconz!!  Wonderful report... I remember some of those dishes well!  :raz:  Those juice-sodas really do look great!  You're right - I'd be all over that!

Any personal favorites?

u.e.

The charred corn ravioli was absolutely outstanding - one of the all-time great dishes that I have had. My favorite dessert was the chocolate fig tart. While I did enjoy some dishes more than others, there wasn't a clunker in the bunch or even one I wished I simply hadn't ordered.

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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John, I agree with you entirely about the charred corn ravioli being the dish of the meal, as I think I also noted.

To be honest, I still can't tell if I hit a really bad night for the kitchen, or whether it's his food that misses me. Since that meal I've been to Astrance in Paris, which I think works for us as an example, as Chef Barbot also uses a lot of Asian spicing.

[Edit to add - Ah, I see you've been there!)

They brought me, as part of a tasting menu, the most spectacular dish - simple roast ceps with a wasabi yuzu emulsion, and a few vegetables (see appalling picture below). Onto this they lay paper thin slivers of shaved cepe. Now think about the flavours for a second. Unadulterated mushroom with wasabi and yuzu - it sounds like a car crash waiting to happen. How can the subtlety of the mushroom stand up to the powerful flavours of wasabi and yuzu? If I had read it on the menu I would have rejected the dish.

Well, it was a miracle of taste. Pascal Barbot balanced the flavours with such skill, with such intelligence, that I still don't believe it. But most of all, rather than the dish being about a fireworks display of spicing, or bold citrus notes, it left me with the impression that I had learnt something really profound about eating cepes. You know the feeling? (By the way, there were a few other dishes at Astrance that were just as good. The stunning foie and paris mushroom tart (Just found your great demo pics here). The langoustine. I can't recommend the place highly enough.)

I just can't put that cepe dish next to the ones I had at JG without getting angry about them. You note his apparent like for strong flavours. It just felt like a car crash to me. And I'm certainly willing to accept that your meal was more restrained than mine. Though who knows what that should mean.

Thanks for the report and pictures.

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Edited by MobyP (log)

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Hi Moby. It is precisely because we agree in so many other areas that I am perplexed by our disconnect here. I am happy that you had such a wonderful meal at L'Astrance. It certanly is possible that you hit a bad night at J-G or that his cooking simply affects us differently. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know that unless we were there at the same time tasting the same dishes.

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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John, I can't see any other occupied tables in your photos -  was it a quiet service or were you eating unusually late?

We had a 2:15 reservation for lunch and didn't complete our party until 2:30, so the restaurant cleared out as we ate. In addition I was largely shooting towards the wall.

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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Doc: great report! We had lunch last Wednesday at JG, as well. I had wanted to try the charred corn ravioli, but didn't... sounds like I should have. Both my foie gras with fig jam and garlic soup with frog's legs were quite delicious, though.

One note on the chocolates: the chamomile one was an eye-opener for me, as I'd never tried that combination before. It really brought out something in the chamomile.

The cheese course was beautifully presented with dabs of bright jelly (can't remember what kind) separating the cheeses and walnuts lined down one side of the plate.

I've really enjoyed my lunches at JG and look forward to another the next time I'm in NYC.

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Doc: great report! We had lunch last Wednesday at JG, as well. I had wanted to try the charred corn ravioli, but didn't... sounds like I should have. Both my foie gras with fig jam and garlic soup with frog's legs were quite delicious, though.

One note on the chocolates: the chamomile one was an eye-opener for me, as I'd never tried that combination before. It really brought out something in the chamomile.

The cheese course was beautifully presented with dabs of bright jelly (can't remember what kind) separating the cheeses and walnuts lined down one side of the plate.

I've really enjoyed my lunches at JG and look forward to another the next time I'm in NYC.

What time were you there?

I stayed away from the cheese course, because I anticipated eating well again that night (which I did) and somehow missed the chamomile chocolate. Oh well, more reasons to return. :biggrin:

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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Doc: great report! We had lunch last Wednesday at JG, as well. I had wanted to try the charred corn ravioli, but didn't... sounds like I should have. Both my foie gras with fig jam and garlic soup with frog's legs were quite delicious, though.

One note on the chocolates: the chamomile one was an eye-opener for me, as I'd never tried that combination before. It really brought out something in the chamomile.

The cheese course was beautifully presented with dabs of bright jelly (can't remember what kind) separating the cheeses and walnuts lined down one side of the plate.

I've really enjoyed my lunches at JG and look forward to another the next time I'm in NYC.

What time were you there?

I stayed away from the cheese course, because I anticipated eating well again that night (which I did) and somehow missed the chamomile chocolate. Oh well, more reasons to return. :biggrin:

Reservation was at noon, but we were there for quite a while (until Usher -- I believe -- showed up :laugh:). Ah, I see now that your reservation was at 2:15, so we most likely missed each other.

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Doc: great report! We had lunch last Wednesday at JG, as well. I had wanted to try the charred corn ravioli, but didn't... sounds like I should have. Both my foie gras with fig jam and garlic soup with frog's legs were quite delicious, though.

One note on the chocolates: the chamomile one was an eye-opener for me, as I'd never tried that combination before. It really brought out something in the chamomile.

The cheese course was beautifully presented with dabs of bright jelly (can't remember what kind) separating the cheeses and walnuts lined down one side of the plate.

I've really enjoyed my lunches at JG and look forward to another the next time I'm in NYC.

What time were you there?

I stayed away from the cheese course, because I anticipated eating well again that night (which I did) and somehow missed the chamomile chocolate. Oh well, more reasons to return. :biggrin:

Reservation was at noon, but we were there for quite a while (until Usher -- I believe -- showed up :laugh:). Ah, I see now that your reservation was at 2:15, so we most likely missed each other.

Usher was still there when we got there and for a short while after. Sorry we missed you.

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...

Planning to have lunch at the Nougatine. Are the prix-fixe enough for 2 people to sample the different flavors there or are there additional courses that are must-haves?

What is the budget I'm looking at for 2 (say glass of wine each)...

Thanks!

(btw: I was at Trotters in September and was not terribly impressed, maybe I'm not meant to be a Chi-town kind of gal --- will put up pics in that thread later)

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Planning to have lunch at the Nougatine.  Are the prix-fixe enough for 2 people to sample the different flavors there or are there additional courses that are must-haves? 

What is the budget I'm looking at for 2 (say glass of wine each)...

Thanks!

(btw: I was at Trotters in September and was not terribly impressed, maybe I'm not meant to be a Chi-town kind of gal --- will put up pics in that thread later)

Why Nougatine and not Jean-Georges?

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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Why indeed?

Though I've never been to Nougatine, my mother was recently at Nougatine for lunch as the result of a business associate who couldn't figure out the difference between the two when making a reservation. She said Nougatine was "good" but routinely calls the main dining room "excellent and spectacular."

The price difference is like $8 p/p or whatever. You make that up in extras and more attentive service alone.

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