The Trump Hotel at the corner of Central Park West is exactly as you would expect it to be, brooding, garish, and covered in gold. Opened in 1997, Jean-Georges was a must stop for my most recent trip to NYC.
We were seated in a cave like enclosure in the main dining room that reeked of opulence and the 1% – my kind of place. White table lines fill the room along with crystal stemware; the hostesses wearing blazers actually informed me I made a reservation for the wrong date but were happy to accommodate given the half empty lunch service. I was really excited as this was one of the first stops on this last trip.
Service was relaxed and exceptional – everyone that came near the table was highly knowledgeable and had great recommendations for the menu, genuine enthusiasm, and measured passion for their craft.
Jean-Georges requires a jacket to dine in the main room, even for lunch which is something I really like. Sadly for me the food did little to expand my horizons though my belt size certainly moved.
The Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Kabinett Riesling from Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer was an easy favorite as well as a perfect wine to start with. Minerals up front, dry and delicious with pear skin and limestone.
Next up while going through bread service (the butter was perfectly soft, good form there) after a slightly underwhelming amuse bouche was the Blanck Pinot Gris from Alsace.
Loved this progression to medium body from the Riesling; this wine had a some richness and texture as well as a slight smokey nose. Also an almost bready character.
Of course I ordered the Foie Gras – one of the most elegant and civilized proteins ever prepared by mankind. This rendition came with pistachios and a sauternes gelée.
The Foie Gras was the biggest let down of the day; far too much burnt caramel flavor overwhelming the dish and too sweet.
The Veal Saltimbocca was easily the best dish with excellent plating, tender fungus, and a light sauce. I thought it was a bit over salted as the cured pork (pancetta?) pushed it over the top. As we moved through the courses (we elected not to do the tasting) I kept thinking that the chef’s weren’t tasting their food, just plating.
The wine selections were particularly superb as well as pricey – I adored the Meursault from Jean-Michel Gaunoux – 100% Chardonnay from organic soil with very measured use of new French Oak.
This wine had powerful acidity and minerality to balance the trademark floral nose of wines hailing from the Beaune region of Burgundy. I would’ve loved to taste this wine in 10 years.
Finally, because only a plebeian would finish lunch with less than four glasses of wine – I ordered a glass of Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. All Syrah from the Northern Rhone I thought this would pair really well with my veal.
Truly elegant structure, lots of dried herbs and spice, though again quite young. I remember reading Eric Asimov call wines from Crozes-Hermitage the most unpretentious of the Rhone Syrah bottlings, which I felt was quite the irony given the setting. Alain Graillot is thought of as one of the most consistent producers in the region and this bottle did not disappoint.
My favorite part of the meal, other than the food runner’s slightly comical slurring of words that almost rendered his speech unintelligible, was certainly the masterfully cut homemade marshmallows. I was tempted to order hot cocoa.
I wish I would’ve taken the advice of heading to not to far Le Bernadin instead of this meal. Though the setting was elegant it was very expensive, and I had far greater experiences at a fraction of the cost at other NYC fine dining establishments.
I would certainly return to Jean-Georges anytime – yet next time preferably not on my own dime.