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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nougatine at Jean Georges
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019