Jean Georges (NY) – Unbalanced Lunch

“I found it absolutely dreadful. Unbalanced flavours, dreadful conception in some dishes, good conception but dreadful execution in others. Some average ingredients.” – Moby

These words, from a comment in a previous post, echoed in my head the day leading up to my Jean Georges lunch. JG was my first “high end” meal five years ago and it stood head and shoulders above everything else for some time (French Laundry, Ron Siegel’s Masa’s, La Folie, and others.) I remembered a nuanced and subtle cuisine permeated by ginger, lemon, and lemongrass essences. The memory of that meal was so positive I found myself reluctant to return on subsequent visits to New York. Well, it was time to brave those waters again.

I met Alex and Aki from Ideas in Food, two of my favorite chefs in this country (see my previous Keyah Grande reports.) The kitchen offered to cook for us and we were off. Actualy, that’s not entirely true – Alex & Aki brought some pre-food – their whipped yogurt crisps and pop rocks. After that, we got started.

The meal was good but there was no subtlety; the flavors were very powerful and not as balanced as I expected/remembered/wanted. You could equate it to a California Zin. In fact, if you read the dish descriptions below, you can probably immediately identify the flavor in question. There were some small technical errors like imperfect fish (not bad, just not perfect) and instances of less than 3*** ingredients (the tuna ribbons, that disgusting L’Astrance-quality pineapple); but it was the overly-forward flavor profile that prevented me from loving it. And, yes, Mr JG was there. Moby’s words rang true on this particular lunch; the meal was high Michelin 1 star quality.

I wasn’t taking notes (foolish me, I thought I could remember everything) so I just leave you w/ pretty pictures. I will return for lunch – it’s a good deal – and pay more attention next time.

1. Amuse
Jean Georges (New York) - Amuse bouche

2. Caviar, Soft-cooked Egg, & Brioche

Jean Georges (New York) - Caviar, Soft-cooked Egg, & Brioche

3. Bluefin Tuna Ribbons, Avocado, Spicy Radish, & Ginger Marinade

Jean Georges (New York) - Bluefin Tuna Ribbons, Avocado, Spicy Radish, & Ginger Marinade

4. Cubes of Kanachi, Spiced Japanese Cucumber, & Soy Basil Infusion

Jean Georges (New York) - Cubes of Kanachi, Spiced Japanese Cucumber, & Soy Basil Infusion

5. Crab and Mango Salad, “Chili-Champagne” Sabayon

Jean Georges (New York) - Crab and Mango Salad, 'Chili-Champagne' Sabayon

6. Sea Trout Sashimi Draped in Trout Eggs, Lemon, Dill, & Horseradish

Jean Georges (New York) - Sea Trout Sashimi Draped in Trout Eggs, Lemon, Dill, & Horseradish

7. Foie Gras Brulee, Rhubard Juice, Pineapple “Raisins”, & Sichuan Peppercorn

Jean Georges (New York) - Foie Gras Brulee, Rhubard Juice, Pineapple 'Raisins', & Sichuan Peppercorn

8. Green Asparagus w/ Morels & Asparagus Juice

Jean Georges (New York) - Green Asparagus w/ Morels & Asparagus Juice

9. Poached Black Cod w/ Honshimeji Mushrooms & Lemongrass Consomme

Jean Georges (New York) - Poached Black Cod w/ Honshimeji Mushrooms & Lemongrass Consomme


10. Black Bass Crusted w/ Nuts & Seeds, Sweet & Sour Jus

Jean Georges (New York) - Black Bass Crusted w/ Nuts & Seeds, Sweet & Sour Jus

11. Smoked Squab A L’Orange, Asian Pear, & Candied Tamarind

Jean Georges (New York) - Smoked Squab A L'Orange, Asian Pear, & Candied Tamarind


12. Short Rib Vinaigrette, Favas, Jalapeno, & Mint

Jean Georges (New York) - Short Rib Vinaigrette, Favas, Jalapeno, & Mint

13. Carved Pineapple

Jean Georges (New York) - Carved Pineapple


14. Rhubard Granite, Buttermilk Froth, Cape Gooseberries

Jean Georges (New York) - Rhubard Granite, Buttermilk Froth, Cape Gooseberries

15. Pine Nut / Rhubard Cake, Crispy Pine Nuts, Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Jean Georges (New York) - Pine Nut / Rhubard Cake, Crispy Pine Nuts, Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

16. Donut

Jean Georges (New York) - Donut

17. Mystery Shooter

Jean Georges (New York) -

- chuck

  • Moby.

    Believe it or not, that’s a far more restrained meal than we had. I didn’t mention that we actually sent back our two main courses as inedible – veal with a sauce drenched in so much chili that you couldn’t taste the meat in the slightest. It bordered on the insulting. And a pigeon with foie and asian spicing that my (very widely eaten) companion thought tasted “as if it came from a cheap curry house.” JG was also in the house that night. I know others (UE and SP among them) have had good lunches there.

  • http://countryepicure.wordpress.com Michael

    Chuck,
    How much difference do you think it made that “the kitchen offered to cook for us?” Presumably they knew who you were. Your photography and the way it displays on your blog continues to be exceptional.

  • ChuckEats

    Michael, I don’t think it makes much of a difference unless the head chef knows you and is overseeing the meal. Unfortunately, I don’t think JG knows me :) One of the sous chefs knew Alex and Aki.

    We used a similar approach at Le Bernardin (we asked instead of being offered) that same evening and, as you’ll see, the meal was nowhere near what it should have been.

    I’ve thought about this approach before and whether it’s even necessary. If it’s your first few times at a restaurant, I think one should order the “classics” and the tasting menu on offer to get a feel for the chef. If you like what you eat, or what it hints at, I think it makes sense to ask for something more. At this point, you’re probably a much-better-than-average customer and the restaurant/chef is willing to: a) experiment on you w/ new dishes and b) procure special ingredients for your visit.

    Of course, the counter-argument is that it announces to the house that you’re serious about what you eat (and they should be serving.) In a way, it’s the omakase principle at work – you serve but it had better be the best or suffer eternal shame.

    When you’re not a known great customer, I think asking merely gets you a combination of what’s on the menu with an additional one or two courses. The downside is that it gives the restaurant carte blanche to charge whatever they like (you’ve more or less asked for it.) Be careful of what you ask for – they can easily bump up the bill w/ a mediocre dish or two featuring some expensive ingredient.

    It is the only way I go to Manresa. My last meal at Quince was sublime (sorry, no pics nor report.) The Keyah Grande meals were excellent but, then again, that was their format. My French is not that good (make that non-existant) to ask for it in France, nor do I feel I’ve had enough exposure to their normal dishes.

    The best approach is probably to set it up ahead of time.  Let the kitchen know you want their best – whether it be through telling the reservationist (it could work?) or asking friends of the chef to put in a good word.

  • seanbrock

    what did you think of the donut??? was it liquid on the inside??

  • Aaron

    First of all, great blog. I hadn’t not run across it before, but I’ve certainly bookmarked it now.

    Just curious about the “mystery shot” at the end. Was it a hot/cold, white chocolate/dark chocolate consomme layered shot? Johnny Iuzzini had told me a while back he was playing around with that. If that’s what you had, it has a remarkably clean mouth-feel for being chocolate, doesn’t it? Leaves no residue in the mouth afterwards at all.

  • Aaron

    Could not agree more, by the way, that having Chef Kinch and the kitchen cook for you at Manresa is the only way to go. I’ve had two such meals there, and they’re easily among the best I’ve eaten anywhere in the country.

  • ChuckEats

    seanbrock, i honestly don’t remember the donut aside from liking it. i don’t remember it being liquid but i forget.

    aaron, ditto for the mystery shot. i vaguely remember the texture and, yes, it was very smooth w/o much residue. i did like it quite a bit – i just forget the details (the problems w/ not taking notes.)

  • yvs

    on a l’impression que dans chaque plat il y a au moins 2 ou 3 ingrédients en trop!!! pas simple cette cuisine!!

  • http://www.diningcity.com/newyork Jeroen

    The food looks awesome. Nice ‘colors’, the portions not to large so you will not drop dead after dinner.

    Good food is never expensive!

  • http://www.teich.net/blog Olivia

    These are indeed your best photos yet. Next up, more focus on the framing of the shots. :) Sorry to hear JG has finally fallen from your top honoros, but it seemed inevitable it would fall short of the awe of that first experience.

  • Pingback: chuckeats.com Blog » The Meals of Others

  • Pingback: chuckeats.com Blog » Jean Georges (NYC) - Bombastic Fantastic

Share

when not eating ...
putting in the work ...