Hi Everyone! February has been pretty much a hectic month with lots of preparation for my upcoming conference/competition. As some of you might guess, I am now in New York. It’s my last night here before I head to New Jersey tomorrow for the official leg of my trip at Princeton University. And though my time in the Big Apple was short, I managed to squeeze some time to visit Central Park, a glimpse of Liberty, the World Trade Centres Memorial Zone, Wall Street and of course the vast array of foods available!
Yesterday’s lunch was somewhat special as my group and I scheduled a visit to Jean Georges just before we headed to the Metropolitan Museum. We initially planned for the set lunch at $38, but once I took a look at the menu, I knew I wanted to go for the 6 Course Tastings Menu. And it’s not everyday you get to dine at one of the three Michelin Star restaurants in the world.
Jean Georges and its sister restaurant, Jean Georges at the Nougatine, are both conveniently located at Trump International Hotel and Tower along 1 Central Park West which for map-followers, that’s the south western position at Central Park. And if you arrive at the restaurant with some time to spare before being seated for lunch, you could do what we did and that was to take a short roam along the outskirts of Central Park. Words aren’t enough to describe its size.
I must admit that Central Park is a very beautiful place to be especially at this time of year. Not too warm, a nice breezy chill and nature just starting to shed off its brown to welcome the green.
The massive metal globe infront of the Trump building
Honestly, we wanted to walk further into the depths but lunch was awaiting. And boy was I famished since the night before.
Just a random shot
The bright afternoon sun really shone through the long glass windows illuminating the dining room in different intensities of light.
Starting off with Sourdough. I really liked the Ciabatta though as it carried a more complex cheese flavour throughout that went very well with the serving of fine creamy butter.
As a start to the meal, everyone at the table was served with a complimentary Amuse Bouche. There was Sashimi with an intense citrusy tangy sauce which really stood out; Mushroom with tarragon sauce; and Chicken Soup with Wild Rice. One particular note has to go to the chicken soup for its pure white colour which really gave the impression of delectable milkiness. Pieces of crisp wild rice added a textural contrast.
And so it begins. First up as a starter, I was served the Egg Caviar with Scrambled Eggs. If this was selected as part of the standard 2 course lunch set menu, it would be an additional $30 on top of the standard amount.
But apart from that, I was immediately impressed with the simplicity of this dish. Maybe more so because the heap of caviar atop really stood in hued contrast to the brownish egg shell. I initially thought that that was all, just caviar and a fluffy foam-cream base. But as I dug deeper into the serving, I discovered the presence of scrambled eggs. Lightly coloured yet intensely flavoured with a smooth savouriness which retained the presence of chicken essence, yet with its saltiness accentuated by the occasional bursts from the caviar. Thumbs up to this surprise.
For the next starter, there was the Yellowfin Tuna Ribbons, Avocado and Spicy Radish, Ginger Marinade. Crystal red tuna pieces stood in a flower like pattern, and upon serve the wait staff will embrace the sides of the fish with the ginger marinade. I liked the crisp flavours of the tuna, and it’s redness is a very pleasant hue. The avocado puree at the bottom was new for me as it lent the dish a separate distinct creamy butteriness which was largely covered in flavour by the ginger marinade. Any overt flavours of this dish is immediately toned down by the tangy sauce which seemed to be a feature in a few of the subsequent dishes at Jean Georges.
And for this, I loved it! Comte Risotto with Marinated Pear is one dish which screams simply Comfort Food! Comte cheese, shaved to a meaty thickness yet thin enough to blend into the dish, matched together with sweet juicy pear pieces and a risotto to soak in all the flavours. It was great savouring the smoothness, the slight chew from the risotto, whilst taking in the unique saltiness of the cheese which served to bring out the fruity sweetness of the pear. Delightful!
Beginning with the first entree of Skate with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Spaghetti Squash, and Soy-Yuzu Broth, I enjoyed the sight of the dish as it was placed infront of me. Much can be said about the assortment of colours scattered all about, and it was made even more stunning as the afternoon sun reached its peak to only so happen shine its ray in spotlight fashion onto this dish.
The fillet of Skate was not too intense in fishy flavours, and it provided a light balance to the rest of the ingredients in the dish. Textural contrast is strikingly apparent with the softness of the fillet and the varied chew from the nuts topping. The Spaghetti Squash itself was a first for me. It was lightly flavoured with plenty of flavour seeping into each strand of the vegetable. Nothing too intense, it was a mild serving to warm the tummy. Though I have to insist that as I tried the sauce, it was not really the saltiness of soy, and yet I couldn’t feel any obvious or subtle flavours from the yuzu itself. A blend in between which I felt was acquired.
On the other hand, Jianyi had the Scottish Salmon with Black Truffle Crumbs, Smooth and Crispy Parsnips which very much stood out in fragrance, flavour, and texture. Served medium rare upon request, the dish was well scented enough to entice the diner. I tried a small portion and while I am not one to really go for cooked salmon, I noted the harmonious blend of fresh earth savoury flavours complemented with the bright taste of the ocean. A marvelous combination and definitely one more impressive for me than the Skate.
The last entree of the tastings menu before desserts, Parmesan Crusted Confit Leg of Chicken, Artichoke, Basil and Lemon Butter. I appreciated the thought which went into this dish, but the parmesan skin was a little flimsy and it fell off before I could cut through it. I am not one to really appreciate breast meat, but it was a good thought to ladle generous servings of the lemon butter sauce to match the linear flavours of the meat. I also initially thought that the confit leg of chicken would be somewhat similar to a duck confit, but any portions of the chicken thigh stood with the portion under the bigger piece as seen in the picture.
It was a relatively good and decent serving, but I really thought that this experience perhaps could be better if I requested to see if I could top up the dish to the Wagyu Tenderloin and Comte Beignets, Pear-Horseradish Puree for an additional $20.
The final course of the tastings lunch, and that is dessert! Portioned as two servings from the desserts tastings menu, the set concluded with pieces from the Winter and Chocolate ensembles.
From the Chocolate tastings, start off with the Jean Georges’ Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Admittedly, I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but this was one serving with a smooth warm and fuzzy interior that simply juxtaposed the chill coolness of the ice cream. I particularly enjoyed the fact of the chocolate not being too sweet or overly indulgent, and it was in a portion that left you sated and not stuffed.
Next up, also from the Chocolate Tastings range, there is the White Chocolate Meringue, Meyer Lemon Ice and Cinnamon. Looked like crumbs of golden sand, but digging deeper, and a velvety white chocolate base will make its appearance. Sweet white chocolate stood in stark contrast to the crunchy crisp lemon ice, with flavours reminding me of strong lemon citrus, especially the lemon meringue tart i had from Obolo.
And then from the Winter Desserts Tastings Menu, I started off with the Poached Pear, Crispy Phyllo and Bergamot Pear Puree. A portion really meant for the sweet tooth but with sweetness bearing that of natural pear flavours from start to finish. Light and clear tasting, this was my favourite dessert of the lunch and probably one which I will not really chance upon again.
And to finish off my tastings lunch, there was the Green Apple Confit, Oatmeal Crumble and Creme Fraiche. Another sweet fruit creation, though not as impressive as the pear. It was more of a textural delight with the oatmeal crumble and the creaminess of the fresh cream.
Jianyi, Arthur and Me!
Dining at Jean Georges for their tastings lunch set menu is definitely a very worthwhile experience. It goes attractively at $98 for 6 courses including dessert. It was my first at a three star Michelin restaurant, and definitely a memorable one for my visit to New York City. A tasty adventure, and probably a global beginning! Now, unto Princeton University. Let’s see what other good food I can find there!
Note, prices quoted are in USD.
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023