Posts Tagged ‘Tuna Tartare’

Le Bernardin

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by virginia

In the interest of full disclosure, this meal took place back in April. Yes, I’m really far behind with my posts.

As Josh wrote back in November 2009, Le Bernardin ranked as the #2 best meal we’ve ever had. We were there for his birthday that year and still remembered how incredible our experience was. During the last year and a half, however, we’ve had some pretty good meals (ie., Daniel, Eleven Madison Park), and we were curious to see if Le Bernardin would still live up to our memories. Our friend Melissa was in town and she really wanted to try Le Bernardin as well, so we managed to get a weeknight reservation at a decent time.

We met up with Melissa at the restaurant bar and were seated immediately. They’re currently renovating the interior of Le Bernardin right now, but I liked the old decor. The restaurant has very tall ceilings, and the colors are pretty muted, with lots of beiges and light browns. I find the atmosphere to be calm with an understated elegance, but not stuffy.

I was surprised when they served us the amuse bouche immediately, before we even received any menus. The amuse was a small portion of tuna tartare, and I wish that I could have had an entire serving because it was absolutely delicious. Tuna tartare is pretty mainstream these days and it’s hard to mess up, but it’s also hard to find one that will knock your socks off, like this did. This version featured classic ingredients like cucumber and chives, and the sauce had an Asian flavor to it. The tuna was fresh and perfectly seasoned, and it was a great bite to start off our meal.

Gorgeous tuna tartare amuse bouche

We were debating between the shorter tasting menu or the regular four course prix fixe menu and decided that if we all ordered different things and shared, we would be able to taste more dishes overall with the regular four course prix fixe. It was a bit tricky to split each dish three ways but we managed to do it without any major issues. We all picked our favorite dishes for each course, and the sommelier helped us pick out a white burgundy wine that was buttery and matched well with our dishes.

After we made our selections, we settled in to enjoy our meal. First up was the bread, which featured an olive rosemary stick, a crusty white roll, and I think a whole wheat roll (sorry, my memory is fuzzy). The star of the lineup was definitely the olive rosemary stick, which was studded with salty and briny green olives.

Selection of breads - our favorite was the olive and rosemary bread stick

In order to make the sharing process easier, when we received our dishes, we immediately split them into thirds, ate our portions, and then passed our plates to the left.  The first course of the prix fixe comes from a category called “Simply Raw.” As the name indicates, the seafood featured during this course are not cooked, allowing their freshness to shine through. For our dishes, we ended up choosing the progressive tasting of Kumamoto oysters, the striped bass tartare, and the thinly pounded yellowfin tuna. The oysters, which were topped with different gelees and ranged from light and refreshing to complex and spicy, was a difficult dish to share because each oyster was different. Fortunately there were six oysters in total, so we each selected two, one from each end of the plate. I don’t know what each of the gelee toppings were, but the oysters were fresh and juicy, with lots of briny liquid to slurp up. The gelees were more of an accompaniment rather than a condiment, and they didn’t hide or detract from the flavor of the oysters.

Progressive tasting of Kumamoto oysters "en gelee"

The striped bass tartare was served with watermelon radish carpaccio, mustard oil, and red dulce seaweed vinaigrette. They also gave us some toasts on the side to accompany the tartare. At first taste, the tartare was a bit bland and really nothing special. However, when eaten in conjunction with the toast, the dish itself changed drastically. The flavor of the bass was more apparent, and the nuances of the vinaigrette and seasonings came through better. I went from thinking it was a lackluster tartare to really enjoying the flavors. It was like magic!

Striped bass tartare with watermelon radish carpaccio, mustard oil, and red dulce seaweed vinaigrette

My favorite appetizer of the bunch was the thinly pounded yellowfin tuna layered on a toasted baguette that is spread with foie gras. There was olive oil drizzled over the top and a sprinkling of chopped chives. The tuna was fresh and flavorful on its own, and light enough that it was the perfect match for the foie gras. The foie gras was just a thin layer so the dish wasn’t overly rich, and the toasted baguette provided a wonderful crunchy textural contrast. It was just a winning combination overall.

Thinly pounded yellowfin tuna over foie gras and toasted baguette

The second course of the prix fixe comes from a category called “Barely Touched.” Again, we all picked the dish that we wanted for the course, split it into thirds, then passed it along so that everyone could have a taste. We selected the peekytoe “crab cake,” the smoked yellowfin tuna “prosciutto,” and the seared langoustine. The peekytoe crab was a pile of loosely packed crab meat served with mango ribbons and a chili crab broth. There was no filler in this “crab cake,” just crab meat. The broth was pretty complex, with lots of different spices. It definitely had an Asian flavor to it, and we actually requested spoons so that we could spoon up the broth to eat together with the crab meat. Josh really enjoyed this dish a lot.

Peekytoe "crab cake" with mango ribbons and chili crab broth

The smoked yellowfin tuna “prosciutto” was an interesting dish, with thick pieces of tuna that were a deep red color and had a salty, smoky flavor to it. The tuna was topped with pieces of pickled vegetables and a crispy sheet of kombu seaweed. I didn’t love the flavor of the tuna but I appreciated the whimsical aspect behind the dish.

Smoked yellowfin tuna "prosciutto" with pickled vegetables and crispy kombu

Our favorite second course, and quite possibly our favorite dish of the evening, was the seared langoustine with mache and wild mushroom salad and shaved foie gras. The langoustine was cooked perfectly so that the texture was still light and delicate, not chewy or rubbery. There was just a small pat of foie gras on each piece, which added some richness but was in no way overwhelming. The mushrooms and mache were a great match for the langoustine, and a white balsamic vinaigrette bound everything together with just the right amount of acid.

Seared langoustine with wild mushroom and mache salad, shaved foie gras, and white balsamic vinaigrette

The third course, our last savory course, came from the “Lightly Cooked” category. We wound up selecting the poached halibut, the sauteed codfish, and the baked skate and langoustine “paupiette.” The halibut was described as being served with braised artichokes stuffed with water chestnuts and bacon in a Persian lime scented truffle broth. I have to admit, we picked the dish because of the lime scented truffle broth and were disappointed with what we actually received. The broth had no trace of truffle flavor, nor was it tangy from the Persian lime as we had anticipated. The broth was still flavorful, just not what we expected based on the description. I did like the stuffed artichokes, and the halibut itself was tender and flaky.

Poached halibut with braised artichokes stuffed with water chestnuts and bacon

The sauteed codfish had a beautiful golden sear on the outside, and the fish was well seasoned. It was served with a leek and grape parfait, caramelized endives, and a green peppercorn mariniere. This was probably the most classically French dish we had all evening, with simple, clean flavors and perfect execution.

Sauteed codfish with leek and grape parfait, caramelized endives, and green peppercorn mariniere

Our favorite dish of the course was the baked skate and langoustine “paupiette” with charred shiitake mushroom and brown butter flavored dashi broth. Even though there was langoustine was tucked inside the skate, the skate itself was the star of the dish. It had a wonderful delicately chewy texture to it, and wasn’t the least bit stringy. The shiitake mushrooms and the dashi broth definitely gave the dish a Japanese tilt, and the flavors were surprisingly bold. I also liked the little french radishes on top, which gave each bite a little bitterness to counteract the richness of the broth. It was an elegant and well put-together dish.

Baked skate and langoustine "paupiette" with charred shiitake mushroom and brown butter flavored dashi broth

The last course of our four course prix fixe was dessert. Before dinner, I told Josh that I had read about a famous off the menu dessert created by Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis, which was simply called “The Egg.” It was usually served as a pre-dessert with the tasting menu, and I was hoping they would let us order it even though we weren’t doing a tasting menu. After checking to make sure they had enough prepared for actual tasting menu diners, our waiter graciously let us swap out one of our desserts for The Egg.

What is The Egg exactly? It’s a milk chocolate pot de creme, or custard, served in an actual eggshell and topped with maple, caramel, caramel foam, and flakes of Maldon salt. The presentation is fun and unusual, but the taste is even better. Who doesn’t like a combination of chocolate and caramel? The salt adds a nice contrast to the sweetness, and the maple is just a hint to make you wonder exactly what’s in The Egg. The custard is smooth and rich, and each bite varies just slightly depending on what you get on your spoon.

"The Egg"

I have to say, The Egg is simply heavenly, but it was almost impossible to share with two other people. Considering that the serving is inside an actual eggshell, it’s quite small to begin with. That’s why it’s meant to be a pre-dessert, just a taste to leave you wanting more, and not an actual dessert. It was hard to pass The Egg on, but we managed to score a few tiny spoonfuls each. I know we all wished that we could have had our own Eggs!

We did order two other desserts for our prix fixe, the pistachio and the citrus. The pistachio featured pistachio mousse, vanilla cream, lemon raspberry pearls, and pistachio ice cream. I’m a huge fan of pistachio so I loved this dessert as well. I felt bad though when I found out later that Melissa doesn’t really like pistachio. Still, the mousse was light and airy while the ice cream was dense and rich. Pistachio was definitely the dominating flavor on the plate. The lemon raspberry pearls added a bit of color and some whimsy to the dish.

Pistachio mousse, vanilla cream, lemon raspberry pearls, pistachio ice cream

The citrus dessert featured lime parfait, meringue, avocado puree, and mint-grapefruit tequila sorbet. It was definitely citrusy, both tangy and very refreshing. The lime parfait was smooth and creamy, and the mint-grapefruit tequila sorbet was an interesting combination. Both Josh and Melissa liked this dessert a lot, and it was a great way to revive our palates after all the food we ate.

Lime parfait, meringue, avocado puree, and mint-grapefruit tequila sorbet

Lastly, they presented us each with a plate of petit fours. We were stuffed but couldn’t resist tasting each little bite. There was salted caramel covered in chocolate, a chewy caramel canele, a pistachio financier with a cherry inside, and a vanilla cream puff. They were sweet endings to a wonderful meal.

Salted caramel in chocolate, caramel canele, pistachio cherry financier , vanilla cream puff

After our meal we asked to see the kitchen, and while I was disappointed that Chef Eric Ripert was not in the house that evening, the chefs in the kitchen were extremely nice when we walked in. We also saw the separate pastry area where the team was hard at work trying to get all the desserts plated before the ice creams melted, as the kitchen was very hot – much hotter than any other restaurant kitchen we’ve visited.

Overall we were all extremely pleased with our meal at Le Bernardin. While it’s hard to compare if this meal lived up to the #2 best meal of our lives, it definitely ranks up there. The food was outstanding and the service was top notch. Our waiter was very friendly, offering his advice on which dishes to order when asked. The sommelier was also great in helping us pick out a solid yet reasonably priced wine. It’s easy to see why this restaurant has three Michelin stars. With regard to all the courses we had, I personally preferred dishes from the first two courses, as the fish was either raw or barely cooked. That’s not to say that the lightly cooked dishes were bad, I just found more exciting pairings and more variety in the first two courses. Coincidentally, Josh had a business dinner at Le Bernardin just a few days after our meal, and he found that dinner to be spectacular as well. I think it’s safe to say that Le Bernardin is our favorite high end restaurant in New York, and I wish that we could eat there more often. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new renovations will bring, as it will give us an excuse to visit again soon.

Le Bernardin
155 West 50th St. between 6th and 7th Ave.
New York, NY


Saturday, February 26th, 2011 by virginia

Whenever I have a rare weekday off from work and we happen to be in the city, Josh and I like to go for lunch somewhere a bit special, since it’s a luxury to have more than an hour for lunch. There are lots of great prix fixe deals to be found, and some of the best ones are at Jean George restaurants. We’ve always been big fans of Nougatine but have gone there often enough that we’ve sampled most of the menu offerings. Some of the dishes do vary based on the season, but we were in the mood to try something different so we decided to head across town to another Jean George place, Jojo.

The restaurant itself is a huge departure from the massive and almost sterile atmosphere of Jean Georges and Nougatine. It’s got a old school townhouse feel to it, with green and white striped walls, gold crown molding along the ceiling, big mirrors hanging all around, and little lamp light fixtures everywhere. It was cozy, though I think they need to rethink their chairs. I was seated on a soft bench that stretched the length of the wall and was perfectly fine but Josh was in a chair that was just way too low for the table. He looked pretty silly, like a little kid sitting at the adult table, and it was probably a bit uncomfortable for him to maneuver his utensils and eat from that low angle.

Nevertheless, the food is always what’s most important to us. The menu is set up in a similar structure to Nougatine, with a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert for $26. The menu did say choice of two plates again, with no real distinction between appetizers and entrees, but there were several appetizers that we wanted to try so it didn’t bother us too much this time. I do wish they would be more clear though on the menu because it can be confusing. After we placed our order, they brought us a tall cup containing long pieces of a thin baguette. The bread was absolutely fantastic – some of the best bread that I’ve eaten at any restaurant. It was warm right out of the oven with a nice crispy crust and a soft, chewy interior. I slathered it with butter and sprinkled on some coarse salt from the little bowl that was on our table.

Fantastic baguettes with creamy butter and salt

Per usual, Josh and I went halfsies on everything. We would each start on one dish and then switch plates halfway through. For the first course, we selected the tuna tartare and the peekytoe crabmeat. The tartare arrived looking like a small plate of potato chips:

Where's the tuna?

The tuna was obviously hidden underneath the chips. There wasn’t a huge amount of fish, just two small rounds, though it made it easy to share the portion, but I didn’t like that it was chopped super finely. It had the consistency of ground tuna, which threw me off slightly, but at least the fish tasted fresh and it was properly seasoned. The chive oil surrounding the dish added a lot of flavor, and I liked the crunchiness of the gaufrette potatoes with the soft tuna.

Ground tuna tartare

The peekytoe crabmeat appetizer was also pretty tasty, and a bit more sophisticated, I thought, than the tartare. There were lots of peppery pieces of crabmeat that we were told to spread on the accompanying cumin crackers with a smear of whole grain mustard, and then top with the cubes of mango. It was a great combination of crunchy, sweet, and peppery. The crabmeat was really fresh and flavorful, and we could really taste the cumin flavor in the crackers.

Peekytoe crabmeat with mango and cumin crackers

For our entrees, we split the salmon and the hanger steak. Usually I shy away from ordering salmon, having eaten one too many fishy portions, but I must say that Jean Georges usually does salmon right. This particular version was slowly baked and served with truffled mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and truffle vinaigrette. I know that we’re both truffle nuts but even this dish shocked me with its complexity of flavors. While the truffled potatoes were exactly what you would expect (delicious, of course), the truffle vinaigrette was tangy and bright, not the smooth earthiness that we expected. The truffle flavor was there but the acidity cut through the richness nicely, and paired well with the soft, fatty salmon. The brussels sprouts on top added a little bitterness, and the dish was really well composed and perfectly seasoned.

Baked salmon

Our second entree, the hanger steak, was completely covered in gingered mushrooms and served on a bed of broccoli rabe. The hanger steak was soft and tender, and the gingered mushrooms added an interesting Asian twist to the dish. There was also a soy caramel sauce that was more salty than sweet but helped tie everything together.

Hanger steak with gingered mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and soy caramel sauce

The hanger steak came with a side of french fries that were warm and nicely seasoned, though they weren’t as crisp as I had hoped. They were pretty limped and tasted like they had soaked in a lot of the frying oil. Too bad, because they looked so good.

French fries

For dessert, we had a choice between JG’s signature molten chocolate cake and an apple tart, so we got one of each. The molten chocolate is the same one that is served at Nougatine, just with a different shape. It’s chocolately and rich, with a lovely runny center. Served with vanilla ice cream, it’s a classic combination.

Warm molten chocolate cake

Liquid center

The apple tart was also served with ice cream, cinnamon I think. The tart itself had a flaky puff pastry crust and a layer of what tasted like crumbly almond cake. There wasn’t a ton of apples inside, but it was nicely balanced in flavor and not too sweet. I actually preferred this dessert to the chocolate cake.

Apple tart and ice cream

Overall we were both pretty impressed with the prix fixe lunch at JoJo. There were lots of different options to choose from, which made it kind of hard for us to decide, but everything we had was delicious. You can order lunch items a la carte, but the three course prix fixe for $26 is definitely a bargain, given the quality of the food. The hanger steak did have a $3 supplement charge, though even that is totally reasonable. Service was fine up until the end of our meal, when we had to wait a long time for our check, so it was good that we weren’t under a time crunch. I preferred the townhouse atmosphere to the modern one at Nougatine, though I’d be happy to return to either restaurant.

160 East 64th St. at Lexington Ave.
New York, NY

Zig Zag (Arequipa, Peru)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 by virginia

After our early morning start to see the condors at Colca Canyon, we were pretty tired by the time we got back to Arequipa, a four hour drive away. Our experience with altitude had left us feeling a bit sluggish and took away our appetites so I couldn’t stomach the thought of eating anything complicated. While the Peruvian food we had eaten so far was tasty, some of it was really rich, and there were a lot of spices and herbs mixed into the sauces. I was in the mood for something plain and simple, and Zig Zag fit the bill.

One of the couples in our Colca Canyon tour group had eaten there before and recommended it to us. They said that we would probably need reservations but we decided to chance it, arriving at the restaurant at an early hour for dinner. The restaurant was empty but every table had a little “Reserved” sign on it. Uh oh. However, because we were there so early, they told us they could accommodate us if we finished before a certain time, when the reservations were to be honored. Since that gave us an hour and a half to eat, we had no issues. We settled down to eat and they brought us a small dish of cheese and olives to start. The cheese was crumbly and salty, like feta.

Cheese and olives

The menu featured all different kind of meats, most of which were sold by the gram and simply prepared. We picked out three dishes to share, including an appetizer of three different tartares – trout, tuna, and salmon. All three with simply prepared with a little bit of olive and citrus. Each was topped with a sundried tomato that was intensely flavorful. The plate was garnished with cornichon, hearts of palm, capers, peppers, and a tiny quail egg. The fish was super fresh, and nicely cut into small cubes. The portions of each tartare were ample, and we enjoyed every bite.

Trout, tuna, and salmon tartare

While we were eating our tartares, they also brought us some small rolls of bread with herbed butter. The bread was soft and chewy and the butter was flavorful. They were fine to nibble on.

Roll with herbed butter

For the main part of our meal, they brought us paper bibs to wear. Yes, bibs. Our waitress told us they were “necessary”, and when our food came, we saw why. We had ordered a grilled platter that came with four different kinds of meat. The meat was served on hot volcanic stones and were sizzling hot. The juice from the meat was literally sputtering when the platter arrived, so the bibs protected our clothes. In reality, we probably didn’t need bibs but it was all in good fun. We found them amusing and wore them proudly. What astonished me most, however, was the amount of food we were brought.

When we ordered the assorted meat platter (which I actually thought came from the appetizer section), we told the waitress we would be sharing it. When the platter came, there were actually two sets of stone, each with its own set of four meats. It also came with a huge bowl of french fries that could have easily fed four people. I couldn’t believe this was one order, and I worried that the waitress had misunderstood us and had placed two orders instead. Turns out that wasn’t the case. It really was an order for one, and boy, that was a lot of food. The meats were marked with toothpicks so we could identify what each one was, and it came with ostrich, alpaca, beef, and lamb.

Huge platter of meat - ostrich, alpaca, beef, lamb

The meats were already cooked to perfection so we quickly removed them from the stones to prevent them from overcooking. They were very simply prepared, just a little seasoning and grilled on the stones. After all the rich foods we had eaten on our trip, it was a welcomed change. The alpaca was tender and tasted similar to veal or pork. The beef had actual beef flavor, and the lamb was nicely gamey. The only meat we didn’t like was the ostrich, which was tough and bland. We dipped the meats into the various bowls of sauce that included an ajo sauce (garlicky), tartar sauce, herbed butter sauce, and a spicy rocoto (pepper) sauce.

The fries that came with the meats were heavenly. They were super crispy on the outside, potato-y on the inside, and not greasy at all. They were seasoned with salt and that was it. I ate handfuls, even without ketchup, and enjoyed every one of them. I am an avid french fry eater and even I couldn’t get through all of it. We left half the bowl behind, and let me tell you, I was really tempted to ask them to pack it up for us.

Awesome french fries

We had been worried that the meats wouldn’t be enough food so we got a small order of camarones, or crayfish, which are an Arequipan specialty. The camarones also came sizzling hot on a volcanic stone. We were too busy eating all the meat first, however, so they did get a bit overcooked sitting on the hot stone. They were still really tasty though, fresh and flavorful.

Camarones on the hot volcanic stone

The camarones came with a choice of a side dish so we opted for fried yuca. They turned out to be breaded yuca croquettes, with a crisp exterior and creamy interior. They were really good but a little starchy, and we were beyond full at this point.

Fried yuca

The veggie action in our meal came from a side dish of ratatouille. To be perfectly honest, we really didn’t eat it because we were too busy stuffing our faces full of meat and carbs.


Josh and I had walked into the restaurant not feeling so hungry, and the amount of food we ended up ordering (by accident) was pretty hilarious. Our table was absolutely filled, and despite not having an appetite to begin with, we made a pretty good dent into everything.

So much food!

Overall we both absolutely loved Zig Zag. It was one of the best meals we had in all of Peru, even though it was one of simplest meals we had. The meats and camarones were all top notch and the presentation was pretty neat. The fried sides were all well prepared, and I couldn’t stop eating the french fries even after I was stuffed. The restaurant was empty when we arrived but by the time we left, it was packed and there was a line at the door. The vibe was upbeat but not stuffy, and it’s someplace that I wouldn’t have minded hanging out at the bar. Service was great and the prices were actually really reasonable. For all of our food, which included the trio of tartares, the assortment of meats, the camarones, all sides, plus a few Cusquena beers, the total was S/182 after tax and tip. That’s about US$67, which would be an absolute steal here in NYC. If you find yourself in Arequipa, run, don’t walk to Zig Zag! Reservations are definitely recommended.

Zig Zag Restaurant
Zela 210 – Cercado
Arequipa, Peru


Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 by virginia

Josh and I both had off from work the day after July 4 so we decided to go for a late leisurely lunch at Nougatine, the more casual restaurant attached to Jean Georges. They have a three course lunch for $26, which is a pretty good deal considering the quality of the food. Josh and I have eaten at Nougatine many times before (we’ve posted about the Nougatine menu/food here), and part of the appeal was that we could choose any two savory dishes from a long list of options. When we tried to place our order this time, however, our waitress told us that we could no longer choose any two dishes from the list, but that we had to pick one appetizer and one entree.

We were sort of shocked and confused because looking at the menu, it still said that we had a choice of two plates, and a dessert. The menu doesn’t even have headers that differentiate between “appetizers” or “entrees”, though the list is divided into two sections separated only by a space. On previous visits, we were told that the small distinction indicated which dishes were lighter and which were heartier, but we had always been allowed to choose whichever dishes we wanted. We had originally wanted one of the lighter dishes and three of the heartier dishes, but we begrudgingly changed one of our selections and continued on with our meal.

The layout of the menu

After we finalized our orders, we settled in and started munching on the bread, a plain slice of a rustic peasant loaf. It has a slight sourdough tang to it and is tasty enough though nothing really exciting.

A slice of rustic loaf

Josh and I went halfsies on our meal, starting with a pea soup and the tuna tartare. The brilliant green pea soup was garnished with little croutons, a small bit of brie, and dill, though what stood out most to us was the vibrant flavor of the fresh sweet peas. Each mouthful was a delight, and even though I’m not usually a fan of peas, I apparently love it in soup form. It was a simple dish, yet extremely satisfying.

Sweet pea soup

The tuna tartare was the appetizer we chose when had to change our order. It was prepared in the same way that we had it last year, with avocado, radish slices, and a ginger marinade. I liked that the tuna was carefully cubed, not ground or sloppily chopped into small pieces. The radishes added a nice crunch, while the avocado helped temper the slight spiciness of the dish. It’s a decent tuna tartare, though not the best we’ve ever had.

Tuna tartare with avocado, radishes, and ginger marinade

For our entrees, we selected two different kinds of fish – the red snapper and the cod. We had also wanted to try the roasted chicken with summer vegetables and a light mustard sauce, but when we had to swap for an appetizer, we thought the fish dishes looked more interesting. The cod was pan roasted and served on top of stewed tomatoes, summer squash, and wax beans. The fish was perfectly cooked and well seasoned, and the vegetables underneath were sweet and fresh. It was a seasonably appropriate dish and very well prepared.

Pan roasted cod with stewed tomatoes, summer squash, and wax beans

The red snapper was also pan roasted and perfectly cooked. It was crispy on the outside and the skin was properly seasoned. The snapper was served with broccoli rabe and a sweet garlic-lemon broth. The rabe was soft but not bitter, and the broth was rich yet bright. I preferred this dish over the cod dish, as it was a bit more elegant and refined, but both were very well done.

Pan roasted red snapper with broccoli rabe and a garlic-lemon broth

There were only two options for dessert, a chocolate cake and a white cake with strawberries and red wine sorbet. They were nearly identical to the desserts we had at the Terrace last year, and we opted for one of each. The chocolate cake was the classic Jean Georges warm molten cake served with vanilla bean ice cream. The interior is a rich, fudgey chocolate river that runs out when you cut into the cake. It’s decadent but a bit heavy, so it’s definitely a dessert you’d want to share with someone.

Warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream

I was happy to see that they vastly improved the vanilla cake from last year that accompanied the strawberries and red wine sorbet. Last year the cake was a small, dry, flat round, and this year, it was a moist sesame-citrus sponge cake that had body and flavor. Although the syrup that ran off the strawberries was a tad too sweet, I thought the sorbet had just the right amount of tartness, and was very refreshing.

Sesame-citrus sponge cake with strawberries and red wine sorbet

Overall we both enjoyed our leisurely lunch at Nougatine, though we are still disappointed with the change in the menu structure. The food is still tasty and well prepared, and there are still lots of options to choose from, but it doesn’t seem as limitless as it used to. When we left the restaurant, we confirmed with the hostess that this was a new policy, and she said yes, because people used to be confused and would order two entrees. I don’t think it was confusing before, because our previous servers have always told us we could order whatever we liked, but I do think it is confusing now because they haven’t changed the wording or the setup of the menu. It’s kind of sad that they are now going this route, because it makes the lunch seem like less of a deal even though all things considered, it’s still quite a treat and a bargain. Regardless, I’m sure we’ll be back, perhaps during a different season because the summer dishes from this year seemed to overlap somewhat with ones that we had last year. The beauty of this three course prix fixe is that we don’t have to wait for Restaurant Week!

1 Central Park West at 60th St.
New York, NY