Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Three Star meal for a steal: Jean Georges, NYC

Word on the street is that you can dine at a 3 Michelin star restaurant in New York City for under $30. Yes you can! Located in the lobby of the prestigious Trump International Towers across from Central Park is Jean Georges Restaurant. The chef is Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a culinary god who is worshipped by many chefs, and has opened a number of outposts around the world. He has spent time in Asia so he is not afraid to introduce spices to his dishes.

The lunch prix fixe menu consists of a 2 course menu for $29, additional courses for $14.50 each. If you think 2 courses isn't enough, think again because you also get an amuse bouche and petit fours. So essentially, that's four courses for $29. Lunch is a good way to sample the cuisine of an expensive restaurant before committing to a $100 meal. The restaurant is a formal setting, with beige leather chairs and high ceilings in the main dining room. Most of the men were in dinner jackets even for weekend brunch.

Bread was served and we ordered a half bottle of wine since only two of us were drinking, and we were still recovering from our prior night out. I seriously had three bread rolls which were delicious. They sort of had a buttery and cornbread flavor.

Amuse bouche of tomato gazpacho, corn and cheddar fritter and basil scented sashimi of madai.
My favorite was the fritter that was airy with a very mild cheese flavor. I wish they served a basket of this. I personally don't like tomato soup or juices so I thought the gazpacho tasted like a V8.

Foie brulee with dried sour cherries, candied pistachios and white port gelee
This was the absolute winner. Everything was so delicious from the rich foie gras caramelized on the top, to the candied pistachios which added a nice sweetness to the dish.

Sea trout sashami draped with trout eggs, lemon, dill and horseradish
Lovely colors. If you like trout, you'd be happy with this because it's a duo of trout. Personally, I don't like the fish but apparently it was a fish lover's heaven.

Tuna ribbons, avocado, spicy radishes, ginger marinade
Another beautiful presentation. The red color of the tuna was so vibrant. Here, Jean Georges Asian influences shine through. It's a simple preparation but the flavors are there.

Parmesan crusted confit leg of chicken, potato puree and lemon butter.
I don't normally order chicken when dining out, but how could I resist? This was a popular recommendation online. The chicken was tender and juicy, and the Parmesan crust was salty and crispy. The sauce however was a bit too sour for my taste.

Roasted sweetbreads and fragrant pickled peach, wild arugula and pink peppercorn
My friend had never tried sweetbreads before and when she first smelt it, apparently she thought it smelt funky (I couldn't tell.. I love sweetbreads) but was so pleasantly surprised with the taste. The sweetbreads were cooked perfectly and were tender and perfectly breaded. It's pretty easy to mess up sweetbread preparations: I've had mushy ones and gamy ones. This one was not pungent but still had that lingering sweetbread flavor.

Grilled beef tenderloin with crunch potatoes, tomato compote with chillis and garlic.
The beef was tender and the sauce had a smokey flavor that tasted like spicy BBQ sauce.

After our courses, our waiter came by with dessert menus. We decided against dessert for two reasons. Every table that ended their meal received petit fours that seemed quite substantial, and we also knew that we wanted to get a slice of cake from Lady M instead.

Petit Fours: Vanilla marshmallows, chocolate, macaroon
The marshmallows were cut table side from long strings of marshmallow stored in a glass jar. They tasted like soft vanilla pillows. Seriously, don't order any desserts because this is sufficient for your sweet fix.

Honestly, the lunch prix fixe was such a good deal. For $29, you couldn't get a better meal that is sophisticated, delicate, has excellent flavors, lovely presentation and at an elegant setting. I thought that the portions were fairly large for lunch portions. The food was classic French but in a very modern way, and there were a lot of unique flavors in each dish. This is definitely a lunch spot that is too good to resist.

Hits: foie brulee, sweetbreads, petit fours, corn and cheddar fritter, such a good deal!
Misses: sour sauce for chicken
Rate: ****

Jean Georges Restaurant
1 Central Park West,
New York, NY 10023
(212) 299-3900

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