Nougatine at JG and Revisiting Bouchon Bakery

About three weeks ago I had lunch with Ariel at Nougatine in Jean Georges before he ships himself trans-Atlantic for his month-long vacation. I would prefer Jean Georges proper, but they don’t serve lunch on the weekends. Go figure.

Lovely view of Central Park
So GREEN…

Portion of Nougatine's bar Nougatine’s Bar

The plus side about eating in the casual dining room, which is Nougatine, is that you’re able to see a better view of Central Park right across the street. The service is still very attentive and prompt except what I’ve learned after listening to Jean Georges himself when I had lunch with two executive chefs, that Nougatine has their food cooked from a different kitchen and I heard the food is a bit inconsistent here.

Ariel's Ginger cocktail
Ginger cocktail


To start things off for Ariel (after debating for five minutes and asked the waiter on his recommendation on which cocktail to pick), he finally chose the ginger cocktail. According to Ariel and the waiter, the cocktail was strong, interesting and well…good. I don’t know since I don’t really care for drinks that much.

Moving on with the food…we ordered from the prix fixe menu, which was fairly easy to pick since there were only two choices per course and we added two extra dishes.

Soft poached egg, dill Spring garlic broth, soft poached egg, dill
Cucumber and mango salad, peekytoe crab, lemongrass First Courses

Our first courses were the spring garlic broth, soft poached egg, and dill and cucumber and mango salad, peekytoe crab, and lemongrass. I preferred the spring garlic broth over the salad. The broth is delicately flavored with garlic mixing that poached egg into that broth creates body from the gooey egg yolk. The enoki mushrooms added a subtle crunchy texture, still playing on that subtle flavors along with the dill. The salad, composed of arugula, chunks of cucumber and mango, topped off with a crab mixture, was good but not memorable.

Chilled Artichoke, mustard mayonnaise, chervil and lemon Foie gras brulee, Pineapple-Meyer lemon jam Chilled artichoke & Foie Gras Brulee

Moving on to our second (a la carte) course, we had the chilled artichoke, mustard mayonnaise, chervil and lemon and our beloved foie gras brulee with pineapple-Meyer lemon jam. I ordered the artichoke because I had a craving for something seasonal. The artichoke was very simple and minimalist in terms of how it’s cooked with a side of a creamy sauce. I was expecting more or interesting from this dish but obviously, this wasn’t it.

Foie gras brulee innards NOM!

As for the foie gras brulee, I don’t think I need to say more if you’ve been reading my blog for the past several months. Simply stating, we LOVE this dish. The crunchy, toasted brioche, topped with the fabulously rich foie gras encrusted with salt and sugar. The addition of the pineapple-Meyer lemon jam added a sweet-tart flavor to the party. The textures and flavors meld so wonderfully that it never ceases to please our palates. Ariel actually had a peculiar way of eating that foie gras – taking dime-sized bites to savor his share of the beloved liver.

Gently Cooked Hake, Spicy Aioli, Zucchini and Mint Grilled Pork Loin, Spring Onion Gastrique, Herbal Ginger Puree Our entrees

Going back to the prix fixe menu, we had our entrées: gently cooked hake, spicy aioli, zucchini and mint and grilled pork loin, spring onion gastrique, herbal ginger purée. My qualms with both of these entrées were the fact that they’re a tad overcooked. The pork is fully cooked that it killed the texture of good quality meat. The hake has a similar situation where the fish’s flesh was flaking (as you can see from the photo). They’re great ingredients but somehow it’s been ruined by cooking it or warming it for too long.

Walnut financier, Poached Apples, Red Wine Granite White Chocolate Parfait, Rhubarb Gel, Creme Fraiche Sorbet Desserts

We finally reached the end of the meal with desserts. Ariel had the walnut financier, poached apples, red wine granite and I had the white chocolate parfait, rhubarb gel, crème fraîche sorbet. Neither dessert has taken my heart. It sounds more interesting on the menu than in person. Ariel’s financier was good from the slightly bitter nuances from the walnut and the acidic, icy crystals of the granite but it just fizzled in terms of how excited my taste buds were. As for my white chocolate parfait, the parfait is creamy, albeit a tad too frozen, with the crème fraîche sorbet it made it creamier and a bit more interesting but the rhubarb didn’t really come through. I felt disappointed on this course.

After finishing our desserts and paid the check. Ariel and I hanged around the Time Warner Center since I was waiting for Kim’s arrival since we’re going to see the ballet later on the evening. Since Ariel was being a pal, we just perused the stuff at Hugo Boss and I finally took him to Bouchon Bakery. Yes, my go-to lunch place back in the days I was in school and it’s his first time here.

Boston cream donut Strawberry Rhubarb macaron Boston Cream Donut & Strawberry Rhubarb Macaron

Since Ariel was curious about my odd obsession with macarons, he wanted to try one since I keep dismissing Bouchon’s as a decent macaron (and he never tried a macaron before) and the ginormous Boston Cream donut.

Macaron innards Boston Cream Donut innards Innards

If you look at the macaron’s innards shot closely, it’s still relatively dry, chewy, needs more FILLING, and the rhubarb flavor needs to be amplified by a few notches. It’s still not good, despite the fact I’m hearing so many people saying it’s an awesome macaron. The donut was a dense gut bomb. The donut itself is heavy and tasted a bit oily. Then to layer on the heftiness of the entire concoction is the decent vanilla-specked custard. I felt like I ate a brick after eating my half; Ariel just plopped his remaining few bites and said in disgust “I need a walk.” and we have indeed. But what happened Bouchon ever since I graduated? Did I happen to stumble on a bad day? Or it’s gone for the worse?

Anyway, I did meet up with Kim after walking around Central Park with Ariel for a bit to burn off a microscopic fraction of what we ate.

Addresses:
Nougatine at Jean Georges

1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023

Bouchon Bakery
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019



There are 9 comments

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  1. John

    I had dinner @ Nougatine awhile back and have to say it was a bit of a disappointment as well. I went in fully aware that it was a ‘casual’ offshoot of JG, yet, still, it didn’t meet my expectations. Food was presented sloppily and I had to remind the waiter that he had missed a drink order for the table. I had a vegetarian dining companion and gave the restaurant 48 hours notice and they said that it would not be a problem. I even called 24 hours ahead just to remind them and re-confirm that I would need vegetarian options for the tasting/prix fixe. And of course, upon arrival, they had no clue what I was talking about and had to scramble. The food itself was…good. Not great, but good. Out of all the casual restaurant attempts from NY’s fine dining masters(daniel boulud with bar boulud/db bistro, ramsay with maze, etc) Nougatine was the most disappointing.

  2. Traci

    Love the photos of the macaroons (and your use of the word “innards”). I am obsessed with those things! You must try the ones at Madeline’s on 23rd Street!

  3. thewanderingeater

    John: Wow, you had it worse than I did. I haven’t tried db bistro yet…

    Traci: Thanks!

    As for Madeline, I’ve tried their macarons on two separate occasions and I found them a bit too mushy or wet. Meh. The only very good ones are from La Maison du Chocolat (in Rockefeller or the Upper East Side), where they fly in their macarons from Paris. Why can’t Pierre Herme open a boutique here!

  4. Markie

    The macarons at Madelaine’s on 23rd are indeed the best to be had anywhere. They are pricey but worth the splurge. Delicately crispy on the outside, moist and cakey within, and tons of flavor. Take that, Keller.

  5. thewanderingeater

    Doug: We’ll plan on it!

    Marie: Well, I hope you’ve read my comment before. But I’ll give it a try again sometime soon.

    Ulterior Epicure: Ah. The thing is, I went to Nougatine not Jean Georges proper (which I would certainly LOVE to go again, on the latter). Different kitchens. Different staff. Food is inconsistent. I want JG! And yes, Keller can do so much better with the macarons.

  6. Mitzy

    First of all, I’ve been reading your wonderful blog for a couple of months but never got a chance to leave any comment. I agree with you that Pierre Herme still has the best macarons. In fact, I just finished 2 full day class with PH himself in Chicago a couple of days ago. I tasted his macarons for the very first time and they blew away everything I’ve ever tasted in New York. I’m going to post more about that once in a lifetime experience soon in my blog.

  7. thewanderingeater

    Mitzy: First of all, thank you for finally commenting! Secondly, you had a two-day class with Pierre Herme himself?! I ENVY THEE! Yes, his macarons are swoon-worthy and it nearly made me cry when I ate them for the very first time. [Sighs] I want him to open a boutique in NYC dammit!


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