Jean Georges, October 30, 2007

Jean Georges

I can't believe it's been three weeks since I've visited JG for lunch. I did get a tour of the kitchen by the man himself two weeks ago, and now I'm back. The pacing between appetizer and entree was a ridiculously long 18 minutes. No excuse for that. The food though, was as good as ever.

Cauliflower soup with crystallized mustard and pickled florets...Yeah, this was pretty awesome. I mean, cauliflower - big deal. But this was great. The crystallized mustard was a real zinger and the florets were just the right acidic foil to the creamy soup and spicy mustard crystals.

Again, chicken - big deal. But oh how good it was. Served with charred brussel sprouts and an "aromatic spice broth with dill", this was just solid. Actually, it was slightly too big of a portion. The rice was okay, but a bit challenging to pick up with the fork.

Sweet potato cake with chai tea ice cream and pear/apple butter. Yeah, this was as good as it sounds. It was really very good. The best part, however, was the chai tea ice cream. Delicious! The crumble was very good too.


El Quinto Pino, October 24, 2007

El Quinto Pino

Behold the uni panini ($15 and by far the most expensive dish on the menu). This restaurant/bar is so small, I will only provide a four sentence review. Go and see for yourself. You will love it.


Cafe Gray, October 18, 2007

Cafe Gray

Forget the food for a second. The service was terrible. I am turned off from returning solely based on the service (or lackthereof). The host was very nice and sat us at a great table, but we were completely ignored for at least ten minutes once we got seated at which point we were given the menus. Another five to seven minutes passed by before the waiter (of which it seemed there were only two) took our order. This is understandable if the place was busy, but we were one of maybe four or five seated tables.

But what would bring me back is the room and the view of Columbus Circle. I really liked the interior design of this place (beautiful wood and a 20s, Jazzy feel to it) and wonder if a different staff and a different style of cooking could better suit it.

Alas, Gray Kunz' traditional French fare - with a bit of a modern twist - seemed less "push-pull" as it has been known for and more about more salt and more butter. Today's lesson in dining out was all about learning to navigate really, really rich dishes (that perhaps I'm not used to) and to avoid what was no doubt dangerously undercooked poultry. In this case it was the poussin dish. The presentation was beautiful, however the leg meat of the bird was pinker than my gums. I found some safe area in the breast meat, but how much fun is it when you have to search (and cross contaminate with a dirty knife) for safe parts to eat?

Anyway, the summer truffle ravioli was good and very rich but nothing I can't imagine being difficult to replicate at home. Simply add more butter than you think you should and voila. Oh, and don't expect much. Two small raviolis, some crispy kernals of corn and a rich sauce is pretty much all it was.

The risotto appetizer with mushroom fricassee was, by all accounts, delicious. Incredibly rich, buttery and salty but not lacking the delicious flavors of the mushrooms which were added to the risotto tableside. The best dish we tried.

Here, in honor of Serious Eats' National Meatloaf Appreciation Day, is a picture of the mini foie gras meat loaf - the foie gras was seared and visible on the top of this tasty mashup of meat. Solid dish. Very rich.

Here's the poussin. As I said, brilliant presentation - questionable cooking practices. Also, the flavor, of what I was able to eat, was good...but not necessarily awe-inspiring.

We also ordered the skate schnitzel - which was tasty but I've had better skate elsewhere (Eleven Madison Park and Jean Georges come to mind).
The kicker with the service was that they overcharged us...twice. The prix fixe 2-course (your choice of appetizer, entree, dessert) lunch is $38. According to the menu, if you choose an extra course, it's $12 more. Okay. So we ordered the skate to share instead of a dessert. Well, we got charged $38 for that skate dish. I corrected the slow-as-molasses waiter who changed it...to $28. We decided to just pay the amount and give a lesser tip (15% which I think was still too good for what we got).
All told, with two glasses of wine ($10) came to $134.40 for two before tip. I will never, ever go back here for lunch and would be hard pressed to recommend it or try dinner. This city has too many better and more value-friendly options available...

BLT Market, October 4, 2007

BLT Market

Briefly, this place is excellent. I love it. Will return again and again. Full review to come...


Jean Georges - October 1, 2007

Jean Georges is changing things up. First the new decor, now bar snacks! And very good bar snacks at that. Rosemary/Olive oil popcorn, wasabi almonds (thick shell of wasabiness) and another deliciously covered nut that I can't place the flavor...cardamom? I'll have to go back and check again. All very good.

Today's bouquet...

I went thematic today - choosing all items that were poached in some way, shape or form. This was a poached shrimp soup in roasted tomato and lemongrass broth (soup, if you ask me). Very good.

Then I went for the slow-poached chicken which was sitting atop a log of crispy rice cake - something similar to the cubes I had with my pork/pork belly dish a few days earlier. The sauce it came with was delicious.

Poached pears with raspberries. This was pretty tasty but it was less enjoyable than how it looked. A little went a little way.