The Nougatine Room at Jean-Georges

by Ada on November 4, 2010

Tuesday afternoon I met my foodie partner-in-crime, Zara, for lunch at Nougatine, the more casual adjunct to Jean-Georges. As I stood outside the Trump Hotel waiting for her to arrive, I noticed that a man was standing right next to me. When I looked up I realized the man was no other than Ben Stiller, one of my favorite actors!!! Apparently they were filming a movie in the hotel. A celebrity sighting and three course lunch? Sounds like a good Tuesday afternoon to me!
We were lead into the spacious and airy dining room and greeted with lovely window seats. A server immediately stopped by our table and offered us hunks of crusty bread. The bread was served cold and was slightly stale, making it an unnecessary addition to the meal.

The bread was served with a perfectly cubed chunk of butter (I was tempted to whip out my handy dandy ruler and measure the geometric figure’s exact dimensions)
and a small bowl of sea salt.
Whenever college students approach me and request suggestions on affordable New York City eats, I always suggest doing lunch. Many high caliber eateries offer reasonably priced lunch specials that showcase their dishes without the hefty price tag. Nougatine is no exception and offers a 28 dollar lunch special that comes with an appetizer, entree, and dessert.

For her appetizer, Zara selected the fried calamari accompanied by a citrus-chili dip sprinkled with basil sea salt. Both the fried matter and sauce felt light, with the sauce possessing a foam-like texture. The chili flavor was subtle, but provided a nice compliment to the basil salt.
For my entree I selected the shrimp salad. I was tempted to order the tuna tartare, which looked fabulous, but decided I had already maxed out my weekly mercury quota. The dressing was nice and bright, containing lovely notes of champagne, yet the hollandaise coated shrimp overpowered the brightness.
For her entree, Zara selected the skate accompanied by “aromatic black beans, avocado, ginger, and truffle juice.” The dish had me sold at truffle juice. I may not appreciate the fine intricacies of uni, but serve me some truffles and I’m a happy mamacita. Zara seemed to thoroughly enjoy her dish, noting that the skate was perfectly cooked.
For my entree I selected the roasted red snapper served with spaghetti squash in a chili oil. The sauce contained comforting notes of coconut, cumin, and chili but, in my opinion, the fish was a tad overcooked. I had hoped it would possess a more flaky, buttery interior to contrast the crunchy skin on top.
I was definitely impressed by the portion size and could not finish this huge chunk of fish. I asked to bring the remainder home and they kindly packaged it up and placed it in a lovely, Tiffany-esque bag.
For dessert Zara selected the warm chocolate cake served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It is pretty difficult to mess-up molten chocolate cake and this certainly did not disappoint. The cake’s interior bore a heavenly chocolate center lightened by the fresh vanilla ice cream.
I selected the poached pear served with concord grape sorbet and and candied walnuts. At first I was quite befuddled by the concord sorbet, but then later realized it was probably a play on red-wine poached pears. While I appreciate the concept, this dish would have better been served with the traditional selection of vanilla ice cream.

Overall I had a lovely time at Nougatine and thought the service was outstanding. I was a tad disappointed, however, that we did not receive an amuse bouche or mignardises, but later learned that only Jean-Georges offers these. I would, therefore, suggest having lunch in the central Jean-George dining room which offers a reasonable 32 dollar lunch special.

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