Restaurant Week Series: Nougatine at Jean-Georges

Here’s my final Restaurant Week post! Cue the sentimental nonsense.

What: French-style restaurant, casual sister to the famous Jean-Georges restaurant owned by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It still has a dress code though. Great location a couple of blocks away from the 1 train stop at 59th and Broadway.

Ambiance: Stylish minimalist décor with lots of glass and beige. Waiters were very professional, almost intimidatingly so (when was the last time a waiter pulled out your chair for you?). Classy but cool vibe.

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Appetizer: Grilled rock shrimp with a butternut squash sauce topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. Presentation, as you can see, was absolutely flawless; The shrimp were arranged in a perfect diagonal line, and the orange from the sauce and the green from the seeds provided a cheerful pop of color to contrast with the slate-colored plate. As for the taste, the shrimp were perfectly sweet and fresh with just the perfect amount of smoky bitterness from the charring. And the toasted pumpkin seeds were truly an ingenious touch, providing a subtle delicate crunch and round nuttiness to enhance the flavor of the shrimp. I tasted the butternut squash sauce, expecting it to be sweet, creamy and rich, but instead I got a surprising citrus-like sourness to it. Thankfully it didn’t detract from the beauty of the shrimp, but it didn’t add anything either. I felt like there was no reason for the sourness to be there; it was somewhat incongruous with the other flavors.

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Main: Chicken in an onion, garlic and green bean broth. The meat, again, was fantastically juicy and tender, with the edges just slightly crispy and smoky. The vegetables were slightly soggy, but not overly so. However, once again, there was that odd sourness to the dish. The sourness didn’t hurt the flavor of the chicken, but I did feel like it detracted from the freshness of the vegetables; vegetables are, after all, supposed to be sweet, and you just can’t mask that sweetness with some random sourness and call it a dish of cooked vegetables. In fact, I’m going to be honest and say that the taste of the vegetables almost upset my stomach after eating all of them.

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Dessert: Green tea pavlova with passionfruit sorbet and tropical fruit salad. Yet again, sour. The meringue was the only saving grace, with its interesting combination of airy and crispy shell and slightly sticky interior; everything else made my mouth pucker up with its intense sourness. In fact, it was so sour that I couldn’t even distinguish the different flavors of the fruits. They managed to make the banana and the green tea ice cream taste sour. Well, at least it left a refreshing aftertaste.

Overall: The first couple bites of each dish were fantastic, but the sourness became overwhelming. Seriously, why the sour fetish, Mr. Vongerichten? Not the worst food I’ve tasted, but, for a restaurant so fancy, I expected much better.

Rating: 4/5 spoons

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