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The Trump Hotel at the corner of Central Park West is exactly as you would expect it to be, brooding, garish, and covered in gold. Opened in 1997, Jean-Georges was a must stop for my most recent trip to NYC.

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We were seated in a cave like enclosure in the main dining room that reeked of opulence and the 1% – my kind of place. White table lines fill the room along with crystal stemware; the hostesses wearing blazers actually informed me I made a reservation for the wrong date but were happy to accommodate given the half empty lunch service. I was really excited as this was one of the first stops on this last trip.

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Service was relaxed and exceptional – everyone that came near the table was highly knowledgeable and had great recommendations for the menu, genuine enthusiasm, and measured passion for their craft.

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Jean-Georges requires a jacket to dine in the main room, even for lunch which is something I really like. Sadly for me the food did little to expand my horizons though my belt size certainly moved.

The Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Kabinett Riesling from Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer was an easy favorite as well as a perfect wine to start with. Minerals up front, dry and delicious with pear skin and limestone.

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Next up while going through bread service (the butter was perfectly soft, good form there) after a slightly underwhelming amuse bouche was the Blanck Pinot Gris from Alsace.

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Loved this progression to medium body from the Riesling; this wine had a some richness and texture as well as a slight smokey nose. Also an almost bready character.

Of course I ordered the Foie Gras – one of the most elegant and civilized proteins ever prepared by mankind. This rendition came with pistachios and a sauternes gelée.

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The Foie Gras was the biggest let down of the day; far too much burnt caramel flavor overwhelming the dish and too sweet.

The Veal Saltimbocca was easily the best dish with excellent plating, tender fungus, and a light sauce. I thought it was a bit over salted as the cured pork (pancetta?) pushed it over the top. As we moved through the courses (we elected not to do the tasting) I kept thinking that the chef’s weren’t tasting their food, just plating.

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The wine selections were particularly superb as well as pricey – I adored the Meursault from Jean-Michel Gaunoux – 100% Chardonnay from organic soil with very measured use of new French Oak.

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This wine had powerful acidity and minerality to balance the trademark floral nose of wines hailing from the Beaune region of Burgundy. I would’ve loved to taste this wine in 10 years.

Finally, because only a plebeian would finish lunch with less than four glasses of wine – I ordered a glass of Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage. All Syrah from the Northern Rhone I thought this would pair really well with my veal.

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Truly elegant structure, lots of dried herbs and spice, though again quite young. I remember reading Eric Asimov call wines from Crozes-Hermitage the most unpretentious of the Rhone Syrah bottlings, which I felt was quite the irony given the setting. Alain Graillot is thought of as one of the most consistent producers in the region and this bottle did not disappoint.

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My favorite part of the meal, other than the food runner’s slightly comical slurring of words that almost rendered his speech unintelligible, was certainly the masterfully cut homemade marshmallows. I was tempted to order hot cocoa.

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I wish I would’ve taken the advice of heading to not to far Le Bernadin instead of this meal. Though the setting was elegant it was very expensive, and I had far greater experiences at a fraction of the cost at other NYC fine dining establishments.

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I would certainly return to Jean-Georges anytime – yet next time preferably not on my own dime.

 

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