Jean-Georges is one of the most venerable restaurants in New York with countless accolades, praises and awards. It was also one of the first restaurants that opened my eyes to the culinary greatness of NYC. The last time I visited the restaurant was for a lunch nearly four years ago (paid for by my employer when I was a summer intern there being wined and dined). Still a student back then who lived mostly on Subway sandwiches, I was just completely overwhelmed by the sophistication of the food from the restaurant. How do I feel about the restaurant six years later, having been to more than 200 restaurants in the city? It is sad whenever a restaurant that I used to absolutely love loses the magic that I had experienced on my prior visit(s), and it’s even sadder that Jean-Georges is now one of them.
For a Michelin three star restaurant with expensive tasting menus, the lunch at Jean-Georges seems like a bargain with two course starting at $58 per person. The food from the acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is well-known for mixing up global influences (particularly from Asia thanks to his wife who is a Korean and was featured with her husband in a documentary praising the greatness of kichi) to French cuisine. Such experiment has not always been successful on my visit. I understand the addition of jalapeno and yuzu to mix up the flavor on top of sea urchin on the black bread, but instead of a more nuanced flavor, what I had was a little too citrusy than it should be.
Sautéed veal scallopine with flying pig ham, mushrooms and lavender was a rich dish that had well-cooked veal in thinly sliced form; while the texture was quite interesting, it was difficult to continue to enjoy the meal when the flavor was a little bit too overwhelming. I felt there was simply too much going on and the complexity of flavor from different ingredients didn’t quite add up the way I would have otherwise expected. The best dish of my meal came in dessert (each dessert option is available at $12 per person). The chocolate dessert was quite impressive, with an assortment of different elements from chocolate mousse to hibiscus sorbet to crystallized rose to macadamia nut milk on the side. In terms of plating, it was quite a show stopper and I did immensely enjoy the complexity of sweet flavor from the ingredients working beautifully together.
Lunch time is still a good time to visit Jean-Georges, which always has a nice mix of tourists and business crowd looking to enjoy the haute cuisine of acclaimed chef at bargain price. Even though the dress code requirement has loosened somewhat, the restaurant still bans jeans and sneakers during lunch time, so be prepared to dress up a little. It’s sad once I came to a realization after recent lunch that the magic around this restaurant is no longer there. Perhaps I should come back for dinner and go for full-blown tasting menu? I’ve still had outstanding shorter course lunches at other fine dining establishments, though, so I’m not sure the fact that I didn’t get the most expensive tasting menu the restaurant has to offer is an excuse to refrain from declaring that Jean-Georges is still a very good restaurant, just not a great one.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023
Telephone: (212) 299-3900