One of the things that I love about being off during the week, is being able to go to high-end restaurants and enjoying their pre-fix lunch specials. Most notable restaurants in NYC serve a lunch pre-fix menu that offers you the same quality of food and service that you would receive at dinner but at half the price.
During my holiday respite, my friends and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at Jean-Georges. They offer at $38 two plate lunch menu with plenty of choices to choose from.
We started lunch with the amuse bouche, which was delicious, and a telling sign to what was certainly to be a good lunch.
Now, I don’t like salmon, in its raw or cooked state, but I do make a point when I am out a nice restaurant to try everything put in front of me – and this is one of the reasons why Jean-Georges is a Michelin rated restaurant. Even I, a salmon hater (and truth be told, not a potato soup fan either) enjoyed both tastes very much on my plate. Of course the truffle & cheese spring roll was excellent, but how can you go wrong with truffles?
For our first course, one dining companion who unfortunately had to return to work, chose to add an additional plate instead of a glass of wine with his meal. He ordered the Salmon Sashimi with Chipotle Mayo and Crispy Rice (which was actually replacing the Scallop Sashimi which is normally on the menu) and the Sea Scallops, Caramelized Cauliflower, Caper-Raisin Emulsion. I had the delicious and decadent Foie Gras Brulee with Spiced Fig Jam and Toasted Brioche. The fig jam was the perfect accompaniment to cut the fattiness of the foie and the crisp torched sugar coating on top was genius and went so well with the smoothness below. It needed the balance of different textures and tastes of salty, sweet and fat.
The other two items ordered for our first course were Yellowfin Tuna Ribbons, Avocado and Spicy Radish with a Ginger Marinade and Gulf Shrimp, Shaved Water Chestnuts, Silky Kobocha, Saffron and Chipotle. Both had excellent presentation with the sauce being poured table side and each friend commented on how excellent they were.
With so many options on the menu, we each struggled a little on choosing what to order for our main entree. Jean-Georges isn’t a restaurant you come to on a regular basis, so it was important to choose wisely! In the end, we all chose different dishes, which gave us the chance to sample the different styles.
Starting from the top lefthand corner we have Beef Tenderloin, Crunch Comte Beignets, Pear-Horseradish Puree; Sauteed Veal Scaloppine, Flying Pig Ham, Mushrooms and Lavender; Scottish Salmon with Black Truffle Crumbs, Smooth & Crispy Parsnips and Parmesan Crusted Confit Leg of Chicken, Artichoke, Basil and Lemon Butter.
The chicken was my dish, and I have a firm rule of never (well rarely) ordering chicken at restaurants. Mostly, it is because why order something that I can make just as well at home? When eating out I prefer to order something that is more challenging for me to make or something I can’t have at home. This dish however, was so intriguing to me that I just felt the need to order it and I’m glad I did. It was perfect for lunch, light and tangy but crispy and the chicken was perfectly tender. The confit did its job of making the chicken almost like butter.
Finally, while dessert is not included in the pre-fix menu 3 out of the 4 of us did decide to order it. There are 4 choices and two of us chose the Chocolate and one went with Autumn.
The chocoholic that I am, of course went with the chocolate dessert plate. Served with it was a warm chocolate cake, vanilla bean ice cream, caramel curd and nougatine. The curd was interesting but paired with the cake and ice cream it worked very well. Alone, it had a strange texture and tasted more like butterscotch than caramel. The nougatine was light and fluffy, almost melted in your mouth like cotton candy but still had a little more chew to it.
Dessert wasn’t over just with our plates, for the entire table we were given praline macarons, and assortment of chocolates and hand-cut marshmallows.