Fresh Mozzarella, Olive Oil And Herbs
A dish ($7.00) that sounds like it's going to be dull, but the Jersey mozzarella they're using here is creamy and tangy and not at all rubbery. Eaten with the grilled toast this dish would also make a yummy lunch.
Two raw fish preparations had real Jean-Georges touches. Mackerel sashimi marinated in ginger ($11) is sensational in its fresh-tasting, non-oily simplicity. Mackerel haters or doubters may have to rethink their aversion after tasting this dish. Diver scallops with sea salt ($15) were betrayed by the coldness of the plate and the scallops.
Peekytoe Crab Toast
Peekytoe Crab is ingredient Jean-Georges has done wonderful things with in the past, and here he doesn't let us down with the peekytoe crab toast ($12), prepared with grilled Sullivan Street bakery bread slices, olive oil, and a mustard aioli.
Kluger and Vongerichten are clearly having good culinary locavore fun with the toast concept. In season ramps are served on toast along with a spread of local goat cheese.
Essence of spring pea soup
It has an intensely sweet pea flavor ($9), its sweetness ramped up by mint and the carrots floating in the soup. Alongside those carrots are perfect crunchy croutons that have been softened just enough by their immersion in the soup.
Roast Carrot And Avocado Salad, Crunchy Seeds And Citrus
The dish that elicited the most wows from the table ($12.00). Sounds boring, yes? Most assuredly not. The roasted carrots are sweet, nutty, and cumin-y, and the avocado is creamy, and the seeds add crunch. The cumin really elevates this dish.
Pretzel Dusted Calamari
Served with both marinara and basil aioli dipping sauces, these calamari ($10) were simply really well-done fried squid. The pretzel dust really didn't add or subtract anything, but you won't care as you munch on this dish.
Kasha And Bowtie Pasta with Veal Meatballs
A delicious, hearty, winter-y dish ($12) served in spring—but who cares how seasonally appropriate it is when it tastes this deicious.
With whole wheat crusts, they can only be so good; the pies here are more solid than stellar. The thin crusts, which have a little lift at least, are a little dull, but the toppings can be inspired. Clams, Mint, Parsley And Fresh Chilies ($16) is a perfect combination of toppings, and don't even think about trashing the idea of putting mint on a pizza until you try this one. A pizza special on the menu both nights I've eaten here featured mushrooms and an over-easy egg—good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Organic Crispy Chicken
A boned half chicken ($21) had ultra-crispy skin, moist and flavorful dark meat, and white meat that was only slightly less moist.
From from one of the great suppliers of porcine goodness, Flying Pig Farms ($24). It's not all that thick, but the pig meat is sufficiently marbled to keep it moist.
Jean-Georges told me that high demand required them to put a cheeseburger on the menu ($19). The beef comes from Wagyu Akaushi cows raised on a Texas ranch. The bad news: it is 100% grass-fed, so though it was perfectly cooked as ordered medium-rare, it manages to be mushy and juicy at the same time. The good news: Its grassfed composition does mean it has high levels of the monounsaturated fat (the good kind). It's too bad the beef itself doesn't taste great because the rest of the burger's elements are stellar and intriguing. It comes on a grill-toasted Eli's bun with a fine grating of Cato Corner Bloomsday cheese, an ingenious arugula-basil-and-chive mayo, and Satur Farms jalapeños pickled in Champagne vinegar.
House Cut Fries
Salty and crisp ($6.00) on the outside and creamy on the inside—yes, they serve damned good French fries here.
With Flying Pig Farm ham and gruyere ($8.00). Sorich and filling I could make a meal out of the smallish plate it comes in. The slightly bitter endive plays off the tasty ham and nutty, tangy Gruyere cheese.
Every restaurant should have a house ice-cream sundae ($8), especially when it's as diabolically delicious as this one: housemade peanut and salted caramel ice cream, to-die-for chocolate sauce, whipped creme fraiche, and a few kernels of caramel corn for crunch.
They're filled with a butterscotch cream ($9) and come with that same irresistible warm chocolate sauce to dip them in.
Vanilla Chip Ice Cream Cake
There were hits and misses in the dessert menu, and this was a miss ($7). With a vanilla sauce, almonds, and orange sorbet, it just didn't come together as a dessert. It was decidedly less than the sum of its parts.
With melted chocolate ganache and toasted marshmallow icing ($8), it sounds so yummy, and yet the chocolate cake was dry.
Individual rhubarb-apple pie
With a crust brushed with duck fat ($8), it also sounds like something any serious eater would like, but the fruit wasn't cooked down, and though the crust was somewhat flaky, it needed a little more salt.