Man I have to say this was probably the most awesome dining experience I had in NYC, and the funny thing was that I dined alone - maybe that contributed to the awesomeness because I do enjoy my alone time pretty much (but I also enjoy your company, moi friends, of course!). But seriously, lunching alone at Jean Georges (JG for short) was nothing short of an awesome experience, having a close personal time with Jesus, sharing and talking with Him, and having a good meal along to boot.
JG is located at Columbus Circle, next to Central Park, at the Trump International Hotel and Tower. It's actually a stone's throw from Per Se, the other fine dining place which I went to (Eleven Madison Park was the last fine dining place I went to but I'll review that another time).
I was ushered into a lovely dining hall with high ceilings, and a wonderful view of the park. Even though it's situated on the ground floor, the elegant high windows means that you get a really good view, as you will see from the photos here. There's enough space for everyone such that it didn't get claustrophobic at all, and we could all concentrate on the food. Service was excellent as well, rather unobtrusive. Although I would have to say that I probably thought the service at Per Se and 11 Madison Park probably edged it.
I started off with some bread - sourdough and ciabatta - good but not outstanding. It was rather late so I guess a little food in my belly was very welcome.
Then a trio of amuse bouches came.There was a carrot purée blended with creme fraische which was tangy and refreshing, with flavours of Thai chilli, and sea salt - the flavours of sweet, salty and spicy really went very well together and gave the palate a nice little lift, or kick, if you like. Next up there was some okra tempura with cilantro, which was rather light. And I saved the best for last - the most amazing sea urchin (uni) with yuzu - the flavours were extremely delicate yet full of flavour, remarkably floral and sweet, highly perfumed and full of umami. The addition of the yuzu really highlighted the floral flavours of the uni. Overall, an excellent trio of amuse Bouche. (8/10, 9/10 for the uni)
The first course came out next - which was a trio of trout. It was a most outstanding dish - smoked trout with fried trout bits, and trout roe. The trout roe was just soooo delicious, full of umami, a bit like Ikura (salmon roe) but far more delicate and salty. There was an aerated lemon foam as well (as you see in the picture), which went well with the smoked trout which was very refreshing. There was the presence of some dill purée on the side which combined well with the trout. Overall a very refreshing and wonderful appetizer. Delicious. (9.25/10)
The second course didn't want to be outdone, equally impressive - sea scallops with caramelized cauliflower and a raisin-caper sauce. The scallops were sweet and succulent and the sauce was just pure genius - sweet from the raisins, combined with the natural "grassy" flavours from the capers. It was a very intriguing combination and I remembered trying to guess the components of the sauce - at first I thought olives, mustard...I just couldn't put my finger onto it until the captain said it was capers! Oh, capers! What a clever idea. The caramelized cauliflowers was a nice touch too. Again, excellent, and another (9.25/10).
My main course was a black bass with a sesame crust accompanied by a sweet and sour jus. The sesame and black pepper crust was extremely fragrant and the sweet and sour jus complemented the fish perfectly well. I don't have to tell you that the fish was perfectly cooked, of course. The sauce had some "bread"-like flavours, a kind of toasted bread-like sweetness (what was it? bread sauce?), and the tomatoes again added some sweetness and tanginess to balance the palate. Another genius dish. Another solid (9.25/10).
I finished off with the usual petit fours - the chocolates were all delicious especially the blackberry macaron which was a joy to eat.
Overall, an exceptional place especially for the set lunch. The above set me back USD70, which is a steal when you consider the quality of the cooking, the quality of the ingredients used, and the immense creativity of the chefs who came up with the dishes. Absolutely divine dining experience, and definitely a must-visit if you're in the Big Apple. Quality, creative, delicious food at value-for-money prices. That's what I like. This place has 3 michelin stars, and definitely lives up to its immense reputation.