When I was lucky enough to win one of the prizes in Zagat’s “12 Days of Foodie Cheer” – a $500 gift card to use at Zagat rated restaurants – my mind went blank. Where did I want to go? I polled friends. I read menus. I looked at possible reservations. I finally chose Jean Georges as the first place to try, based on what I was reading, their selection, and feedback from a co-worker.
I felt special from the moment I walked in the front door. I had a conversation with the elegant lady in front of me about this week’s Valentino selection she was wearing, and she was warm and sincere. The host was chatting with her, making it clear that unlike me, she was a regular. But no one treated me any differently. They seated us in a cozy table perfect for two, angled just as to put us sitting together in a curved corner table. We went with the three course tasting menu, which was filled with a variety of options, noticeably many with an Asian flair.
To start, I had the yellow fin tuna ribbons, which were served with avocado, spicy radish, and a ginger marinade which was added tableside. This was outstanding. One of the highlights of the meal for me. I haven’t had fresher tuna. I could easily have this every day it was so fresh and flavorful. Unfortunately I wasn’t taking photos at that point in time, but this was not only one of my favorites from the meal but it was also just stunning visually. My BF had the Kampachi sashimi which was accompanied by a sherry vinaigrette and toasted pecans. I learned Kampachi is a rich, sashimi-grade version of Hawaiian yellow tail. It was noticeably fresh. I liked the sherry vinaigrette which added a slight punch to the overall flavor of the dish, but agreed with my boyfriend that the pecans were a bit of a distraction, especially seeing that the cut of the yellow tail was so clean.
For my second course, I had the cod steamed with Kaffir lime, topped by an herbal lemongrass sauce and bok choy. Again, the sauce was added at the table, which I found both time to give the sauce a more fresh taste versus something which has been sitting for a bit. The cod was very light and I found that the sauce helped to warm it up a bit in flavor. I liked the added crunch as well of the bok choy, which was a nice contrast to the soft flaky texture of the fish. My BF had the roasted foie gras with infused apples and lime. I’m not usually a big fan of foie gras, but I liked the flavor the fruit added to the dish. To me, it made it almost taste completely different (in a good way).
For my main course, I went with the duck breast topped with cracked Jordan almonds and an amaretto jus. The duck was placed on a warmer at the table as they proceeded to carve it for me at the table. Not sure how I managed it, but I ended up choosing all three courses to be ones which involved some finish at the table! The duck was very tender and I liked the notable hint of sweetness the amaretto added.
For his main, he had the crunchy rabbit, citrus-chili paste, and soy bean puree. I liked the light, crunchy exterior, which seemed to be lightly fried. The rabbit was a bit dry, but still flavorful. I liked the slight heat added by the chili paste.
When I read the menu online, I assumed that since by this point you’d already had three courses that dessert was not included, but no! That turned out thankfully not to be the case. In fact, it was the complete opposite. For dessert, rather than one large main dessert, you instead chose from one of four themed dessert tastings. The choices were names orchard, winter, citrus and herbs, and chocolate. As hard as it was, I elected to resist on chocolate and instead to try the orchard. It included:
- Warm red wine tart with cassis poached pears and chestnut ice cream – this was a heavier option but I loved the rich flavor. It was a nice option to follow the red wine we’d had during dinner.
- Cranberry parfait with walnut nougatine, accompanied by a soft vanilla meringue – all of the flavors worked well here. I particularly liked this following the red wine tart as it was so light and airy.
- Sweet potato soufflé with cranberries and Medjool dates – light, whipped and fluffy. I liked how subtle the flavor was here.
- Pomegranate sorbet with fresh pomegranate seeds – nice refreshing way to end the meal.
He chose the citrus and herbs, which was:
- Citrus soda with basil syrup – I thought this was an odd option, until I tried it. This was easily the highlight of the tasting. Simple but so much flavor in the small cup.
- Anise macaroon with a buttermilk sorbet and kumquat marmalade – I’m not a fan of anise at all, so the flavor was subtle here since I liked this. The buttermilk sorbet was a nice light accent to the rest of the flavors.
- “Sundried Grapefruit” marscapone tart with orange flower honey and tarragon – This one was the great miss out of the meal for both of us. The candied grapefruit was not just tart, it was horribly bitter. After pulling it off, you could almost enjoy the marscapone tart, but it was for the most part a lost cause at this point.
- Yuzu pudding with crepes dentelles and sesame and candied shiso – I liked the yuzu pudding. I liked the subtle citrus flavor and the creamy consistency. I didn’t get to try the dentelles, but my BF preferred the dish without them.
In addition to the dessert tastings we ordered, more sweet treats kept arriving at our table. There was a gentleman rolling around a cart with a large glass jar filled with fresh vanilla bean marshmallows. He pulled the marshmallows out slowly, which were coiled into the container in a long rectangular form and were cut for us at the table. They also brought out petit fours, macaroons, and gummies. I went from being concerned dessert wasn’t getting its proper focus here to being in heaven quite quickly. Bravo.
This is a wonderful spot if you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion or to just indulge in a nice, leisurely night of dining. They are very attentive too if you are hurrying to make it over for any show at the theatre. Impeccable service – highly recommend. It was wonderful to feel like a princess for an evening.
Jean Georges – 1 Central Park West – 212.299.3900
Reservations Required; Jacked Required for Men