It seemed only apt in the midst of the US primaries and all the hype about Donald Trump’s candidacy that we vist Jean Georges at the Trump Hotel on West Central Park. Recommended by friends and heralded as one of the best restaurants by Michelin judges and the foodie community, Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten’s stunningly located and beautifully designed restaurant is not short of acclaim.
Adjacent to the formal Jean-Georges restaurant is the more casual but still very elegant Nougatine dining room and outdoor Terrace dining. We had heard about the very reasonably priced Prix Fixe lunch menu – 3 courses for USD38 , so we made sure we booked in ahead of time.
Arriving on a crisp, New York early Spring day for lunch, we were welcomed by the equally crisp(but warm) and professional Jean Georges reception staff. We were privileged to have General Manager Phillipe Vongerichten, Jean Georges’ brother, supervising proceedings on the day we visited – watching the floor like a hawk and elegantly keeping an eye on the dishes emerging from the immaculate open plan kitchen and the seamless service. You certainly never feel like you are getting “second best” being in Nougatine rather than the main restaurant.
The wine list is of course extensive but includes reasonably priced wines to complement your meal as well as out of this world offerings!
We were both in the mood for salad to start so chose the Shrimp Salad with avocado, tomato and Champagne sauce and the Warm Duck Confit Salad with Spring greens and grapes. The salads had similar crisp, leafy lettuces as a base but the individual combinations of sauces, herbs and accompaniments were deliciously different to each other.
For mains, we just couldn’t go past the enticing fish combinations on offer and chose two types of fish we don’t see that much on menus in Australia- Crispy Black Sea Bass with caramelised cauliflower and a poppyseed, buttermilk vinaigrette and Roasted Hake with avocado, black beans and “cilantro “. The combinations of ingredients with each of the unique fish flavours was delicious and perfect for lunch.
We finished with the Citrus Pavlova with Satsuma cream and a brilliant blood orange sorbet which was stunning – citrusy, light and refreshing!
Each course featured divinely balanced flavours and textures, featuring the freshest seasonal ingredients that Jean Georges is famed for. Throughout the meal you are aware that this is dining at it’s finest, yet being totally at ease. The lunchtime crowd, a buzzy mix of locals and tourists, adds to the atmosphere as you enjoy views across to Central Park. I think this is a must-visit experience in New York, whether you decide to blow the big bucks at Jean Georges or go for Big Bang for your buck at Nougatine. (Thanks Marie for suggesting we try it out.)