Thursday, January 28, 2010

NYC Winter Restaurant Week 2010: Nougatine at Jean-Georges

On the northern rim of Columbus Circle, smiling at Central Park and the Time Warner Building, sits Nougatine at Jean-Georges in the ground level of Trump International Hotel and Tower.  While the Upper West Side boasts some of Manhattan's most heralded menus, I cannot fathom a better lunch to be found anywhere.  The best part?  If you can't make it during restaurant week for $24.07, fret not...  The year round weekday prix fixe lunch is only a few dollars more, at $26.

Though you must pass through Nougatine to get to the prestigious dining room of Jean-Georges, they share the same kitchen.  For $26, as opposed to Jean-Georges lunch prix fixe at $98, I couldn't fathom why you would need to walk any further than Nougatine.  From a selection of 14 dishes, the meal includes the diner's selection of any two, along with a dessert.  Unlike most prix fixe menus, you are not limited to an appetizer and an entree.  The flexibility at Nougatine allows you the possibility of two entrees, should you so choose.  I took advantage of this rare setup to create a gourmet surf and turf, while my friend chose a caesar salad and steak. And lunch for both of us was simply exquisite.

Crispy Coach Farms herbed goat cheese fondue, on a pear and crystallized pecan salad.

Slowly cooked salmon, braised mushrooms, poblano pepper, and dill.

The star of the meal (and a dish I have been craving since the moment my licked-clean plate was removed) was the pan seared beef tenderloin.  The filet arrived on a bed of potato puree and remarkably tender roasted brussel sprouts.  But the touch that sent us soaring was the pitcher that accompanied, from which the entire dish was drenched with warm miso butter... Literally, a perfect plate.

The flourless molten chocolate flower with vanilla bean ice cream was a playful and decadent ending.

If you want to enjoy New York's finest cuisine from one of the world's most respected chefs, but at a price that doesn't require a second mortgage, you simply must indulge in Nougatine.

Nougatine on Urbanspoon

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