The dining room appointments at Jean-Georges are minimal. Sparse. Simple. Zen-like basic.
That means one of two things. Either the place is overly froo-froo trendy or the menu is the main act and nothing in an 8-mile area even dares to compete with the food.
Please know; it's all about the food at Jean-Georges. Or, as my son frequently text messages, "OMG!"
I searched for adjectives to describe the explosion of flavors going on inside my mouth as Joanne Nelson, CTC, the publisher of Travel Professional magazine, and I trekked through one of the most adventuresome dining experiences I can recall. I've eaten salt encrusted fish on a wooden plank in Istanbul and foie gras at La tour D'Argent in Paris, but yesterday's lunch at Jean-Georges in New York City can best be described as "passion for your palate."
Great dining always begins and ends with great service. Erin gets that. She was knowledgeable, always present when needed, never present when not, personable, and ready with her professional recommendations -- not unlike a savvy travel professional.
The Jean-George Experience began with an amuse-bouche that raised our expectations for things to come. I've never been instructed to eat an amuse-bouche from right to left, but was pleased with Erin's instructions because the three tastes provided a gentle "on ramp" to a dining autobahn.
The three little bites in this amuse-bouche began with a strawberry peppermint tea with a splash of red wine vinegar served in a crystalline mint rimmed shot glass. Next was the Fluke Sashimi spread across a trail of Japanese powdered chili. And, on the far left was a spoon of cucumber noodles topped with diced cilantro and covered with tomato vinaigrette and sesame seeds. That's how the party started and the flavors got more and more intense as the meal progressed.
I won't bore or torment you with all the details because this is one of those NYC discoveries you just have to experience for yourself, but I will tempt you with a few of the more unusual flavor pairings:
- Tri-Star Strawberry and Feta Salad with Wasabi Ice (yes, you read that correctly) and Micro Basil. This looked like a crown of thorns, but the taste was sensational.
- Sea Scallops with Carmelized Cauliflower and Caper-Raisin Emulsion (there was no mustard in this dish, but I tasted mustard)
- Foie Gras (unlike California and Chicago, you can still eat foie gras in Manhattan) and Strawberry Brulee topped with aged Balsamic and, of course a
- Medley of chocolate for desert.
Jean Georges is located in the Trump International Hotel and Tower at 1 Central Park West in New York City