REVIEW #72

Nougatine

Too often overlooked, Jean Georges's less formal sister restaurant offers probably the best value in all of NYC.  All of the precision and virtuosic execution of the Jean Georges kitchen are present, but available at highly reasonable prices (a three course prix fixe lunch is $32).  But putting aside the value, the quality of the cuisine is sufficiently high to stand on its own.  Nougatine's dishes are less complex, but inspired with the same creativity and composed with the same deft touch as next door.  It is one of the most dependable, consistent restaurants in the city.

The interior was recently redone by Mr. Juul-Hansen, who vastly improved the modern, sleek space in a way that accentuates the pendant-lit bar and open kitchen even more attractively than before.  In the lush greenery behind the Trump International Hotel is the Mistral Terrace at Jean Georges, whose hedged privacy makes it an ideal place to have a languorous lunch in the freneticism of Columbus Circle. 

The simplicity of Nougatine's cuisine sometimes belies the underlying genius behind the dishes.  Nothing could be simpler than some cut-up watermelon.  But Nougatine cuts it in perfect cubes and garnishes it with high-quality goat cheese and olive oil, whose tartness is a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the watermelon.  There are the redoubtable ribbons of yellowfin tuna tartare arranged in a bowl with avocado and a ginger marinade and the textural miracle of the foie gras brûlée, a creamy smooth terrine sitting atop toasted brioche with a crunchy, caramelized top.  This is cuisine that would bear prices double their current level, so let us take a moment of silence to reflect with thanksgiving on what Jean Georges has given us.  

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INFORMATION

Upper West Side
1 Central Park West
New York (at Columbus Cir.)
(212) 299-3900
Mon-Thurs, noon-3pm; Fri-Sat, noon-3pm, 5:30pm-6pm, 10-11pm; Sun, 5:30pm-6pm, 10-11pm
    Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Chef
    Mark Lapico, Executive Chef
    Erik Battes, Chef de Cuisine
    Joseph Murphy, Pastry Chef

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