On our first full day in the city, we splurged on a luxurious lunch at Jean-Georges at the Trump International Hotel. A two course meal at the world-renowned three Michelin star restaurant for $32 is well known to be the best deal in the city and one which my student budget could handle. Arriving right around noon just as the restaurant opened we were seated at one of a few empty tables. As we were greeted and lead to our table we could not help but notice just how much meticulous thought and effort is put into this dining experience. The dining room itself is elegant and beautiful in a very simple and clean way and each table is dressed with a pretty little arrangement of fresh flowers. After being seated, we spent a few minutes looking over the menu and deciding on drinks. While I was looking forward to getting a homemade soda, I was lured over by their Rhubarb Elderflower sparkling wine cocktail and decided it would probably go better with their spring menu anyways (at least that’s my story). As expected, it was absolutely delicious and if it wasn’t lunchtime I probably would have ordered a few more.
I also tried Ben’s Cucumber Martini made with gin, cucumber and mint, which he was a huge fan of. It was considerably stronger so not ideally suited to my taste buds, but I adored the presentation with the hanging cucumber slices. My sister, being a health-nut, ordered an Organic Avenue green juice which tasted just exactly like cucumber, celery and spinach that it was composed of.
After spending some time deciding on our orders, we were presented with three amouse-bouche, consisting of a mushroom cannelloni, a toast square topped with radish, and some refreshing carrot water. Each one had a unique bright flavor and texture, revving up our appetites and hopes for what’s yet to come.
After reading stellar reviews of the Tuna Ribbons, I decided this was a must-get. While my ribbons weren’t perfectly tucked in as I had seen in previous pictures, the combination of flavors here was incredible. The ribbons sat on top of a healthy amount of creamy avocado in a ginger marinade and was garnished with spicy radish slices. I couldn’t help but notice just how fresh the tuna was, and eating it as long strands, as opposed to slices or cubes that I’m used to, allowed for more surface area for picking up the sauce and avocado and added a whole new dimension to the dish. I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of radishes and initially found myself picking them off. Halfway through, I stopped myself and realized that I was eating at the restaurant of one of the world’s most celebrated chefs and that there was probably a reason for the addition of this ingredient. Against my gut instinct, I added a slice of radish to my next forkful–and how glad I was for giving these a second chance. Each following bite had a nice added element of crunch and a tiny bit of spice–flavors and textures that Im really glad I didn’t miss out on.
Next we tried the Black Sea Bass Sashimi with Green Chili, Pistachios and Mint. Again, the fish was perfectly fresh and I loved the spicy green chili sauce. The pistachios added a great crunch and the mint rounded out the flavors.
In contrast to the light seafood we started with, the Foie Gras Brulee with Pineapple-Mayer Lemon Jam was decadence at its extreme. The foie itself was rich and the caramelized top was something I’d never dreamed would be so complimentary. It was nice to finish each bite with a bit of the jam and start all over again with a cleansed palate, drawing out this magical experience as long as possible.
Now onto the larger dishes. The Red Snapper was first, crusted with nuts and seeds and served with a sweet and sour jus. Underneath the thick crust was a large filet of fish that easily flaked off, swimming in a most flavorful jus that was scooped up with a spoon so that not a drop of flavor was wasted.
The Lamb Chop was served with wild mushrooms bolognese, broccoli rabe and pecorino. This dish had a robust mushroomy flavor, which is never a bad thing, and paired well with the lean piece of nicely cooked meat.
Last but not least were the Salt and Pepper Sweetbreads sitting on top of a bed of pea shoots in a sweet chili emulsion. Since this was my first time having sweetbreads (which is essentially thymus glands), I cannot say how it compares to other preparations, but for me this was one of the more interesting dishes. The individual lobes were breaded with a perfectly crunchy exterior but were extremely juicy, moist and tender on the inside. It definitely had a unique flavor, which reminded me a little bit of blood sausage, except much more refined and delicate. The chili emulsion and pea shoots were a great addition and definitely balanced out the flavors of the sweetbreads here.
Having made the chocolate molten magic cake that Jean George made famous, I knew we had to try the real thing, so we supplemented our lunch with the Chocolate themed dessert, consisting of the Jean Georges’ chocolate cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Creamy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache, Banana, Milk Skin, and Dried Cherry. The two peanut butter fanatics I was dining with demolished the peanut butter portion of the dessert and I was left to a few bites of the chocolate cake, which was not as full of molten chocolate as the version I made. Im sure this was due to the miniature size of this dessert and it was still delicious, even if not exploding with a rich flowing chocolate lava. The complimentary petit fours, marshmallows and macarons were a fabulous finishing touch. The light and airy lavender macarons were the clear highlight here and a wonderful way to end this meal. Overall, the impeccable service, outstanding food and beautiful presentation made this a meal that we will not soon forget.