Nougatine at Jean Georges

A gem of excellence, Nougatine is the front room of Jean-Georges's namesake restaurant Jean Georges. As its confectionary name suggests, Nougatine is a sweet morsel of delight. Restaurant week was the perfect opportunity to try Nougatine with a friend. Both of us opting for the $35 four-course tasting menu was the perfect way to familiarize ourselves with the restaurant's simple and elegant cuisine. With white wine for the lady and red wine for me, we toasted our good fortunes. The meal began with complimentary amuse-bouches from Jean-Georges, an hors d’oeuvre of a cooked shrimp topped with a parsley pesto and a petite cup of mushroom soup with gruyere and croutons. It was a perfect introduction to what was to follow.

The first course was a tomato soup with a sourdough crouton and shredded cheese. The soup was silky and smooth with just the right balance of sweet and salty and the crouton was crunchy and tasted of earthy caraway. The second course was a cod sautéed in maple syrup served on a bed of celeriac puree topped with celery slices, pickled onions, and drizzled with pink peppercorn vinaigrette. The fish was perfectly done with a hint of sweetness. The different textures of crispy and soft along with the peppery bite of the vinaigrette made for an interesting meal that did not quite follow through. The dish was a fair attempt at elevating an otherwise dull fish. The third course was a crisply baked chicken breast and thigh with sautéed onions and garlic, steamed green beans, and a spiced jus. Once again the crunchy and soft textures and spicy broth worked well together. I tried to eat the crispy skin as fast as I could because it began to soften due to the broth. But it was a benefit that the broth was the last addition made to the dish table side. My only complaint was that the thigh was undercooked. Quite filled by this point, I would have preferred only having been served the breast.

There is a saying in Hungarian, loosely translated, that there is no filled wagon that cannot fit any more. With this in mind I awaited the final course. Apt as is the restaurant’s name, it does not fail to deliver scrumptious desserts created by Johnny Iuzzini. A double serving presented on a rectangular plate was placed before us both; in one corner the apple tart with honey-ginger ice cream and in the other corner the molten chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream. Truly, I was as happy as a hog in mud when I tasted that chocolate cake. The tart was forgettable but the chocolate cake was simple perfection. We left the evening very content and very full.

Those who visit Nougatine after restaurant week will not find any of these dishes on the regular menu except for the desserts. I urge you to go now and visit Nougatine, if only for this wonderful dining experience. With its impeccable service, attention to detail, and great food you will not be let down.

Nougatine
Trump International Hotel and Tower
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
212-299-3900
Open daily for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., for lunch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
For dinner, appetizers range in price from $9 to $19 and entrees from $22 to $65.
The dinner tasting menu is $68 and the lunch tasting menu is $24.