REVIEW #4

Jean Georges

Jean-Georges Vongerichten runs a virtual empire of excellent restaurants (six appear on our list), but none surpass his eponymous contemporary French restaurant in the Trump International Hotel and Tower. The room itself (surprise, Adam Tihany, with a recent redesign by Thomas Juul-Hansen) is spare, clean and airy. Large windows allow light to pour in during the day and the restaurant is magically lit at night. The neutral-toned interior mostly blends into the background, putting all of the focus onto the food. Invariably, the food is sublime, beautifully presented, dazzling. New York Magazine has boldly asserted that “in the past two decades, no single chef has had more influence on the way New Yorkers dine out — or on the way other chefs cook and other restaurants look.”

Georges is known for foregoing traditional thick sauces for oils and broths, which are lighter and capable of more beguiling scents. Dishes involve pairings so perfectly calibrated that one feels even the slightest variation could cause the delicately erected structure to collapse. Bizarre combinations somehow attain a feeling of inevitability. One senses behind every dish the hands of a master who is at the height of his powers. Dishes like the Egg Caviar, a dish much imitated (see, e.g., Mélisse) but seldom equaled, and the turbot with chateau chalon sauce are a testament to his virtuosity. The classic tasting menu is often better than the seasonal tasting menu, but both are always worth trying. The gracefully choreographed service is formal, competent and often tableside. The vast wine list is magnificent, with both trophy wines and thoughtfully selected midrange wines. We would be remiss if we did not mention the adjacent bar-restaurant Nougatine, which is worth its own trip, as well as the renowned affordability of the popular lunchtime prix fixe menu. Some detractors claim that Jean Georges is merely recycling proven hits from its youth rather than expanding the boundaries of culinary possibility. The continued execution of timeless dishes at this level of craftsmanship should be cause for celebration rather than criticism.

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INFORMATION

Upper West Side
1 Central Park West
New York (at 60th St.)
212-299-3900
Mon-Thu, noon-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm; Fri, noon-2:30, 5:30pm-11pm; Sat, 5:30pm-11pm
    Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Chef
    Mark Lapico, Executive Chef
    Joseph Murphy, Pastry Chef
    Adam Tihany, Designer
    Thomas Juul-Hansen, Designer
    Laura Williamson, Sommelier

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