Jean Georges Steakhouse
Yuzu Lemon Drop – Kai Soju, Contreau, Yuzu, Lemongrass
Pretzel Bread, Baguette, Cranberry Walnut Bread, Spicy Cracker with Butter
Wagyu Carpaccio – Black Truffle Fritters & Lime Salt, Grated Black Truffles
Burrata Cheese – Autumn Fruits from the Intuitive Forager, Rice and Seed Cracker
Foie Gras – Roasted Grapes, Sake Emulsion, Brioche
Crunchy Organic Chicken – Spinach and Buttery Hot Sauce, Tempura
Slow Baked Salmon – Black Truffle Crumbs, Smooth and Crispy Parsnips, Coconut Milk, Shaved Truffles
Diver Scallop – Trumpet Mushrooms & Fragrant Delicata Squash with Flavors of Tom Kha
Soy Glazed Short Rib – Granny Smith Apple & Jalapeno Slaw and Puree
Aspen Ridge All Natural Beef, Dry Aged Rangers Valley Australian Beef, Certified A5 Japanese Wagyu with Homemade Hot Sauce, Soy Miso Butter, Bearnaise, JG Steak Sauce
Baked Sweet Potato – Maple Butter & Seed Granola
Creamed Kale – Ember Roasted Poblano Pepper
Black Truffle Mac & Cheese with Shaved Truffle and Brioche Crumble
Market Apple Pie – Maple Pecan Ice Cream
Almond Cake – Poached Pear, Fig, Port Sorbet
Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae – Chocolate Gelato, Whipped Cream, Concord Grape Sorbet, Sliced Grapes, Roasted Peanuts
Considered by some to be the hipper, younger brother to Jean Georges Vongerichten’s stunning PRIME at Bellagio it may perhaps be a simple case of a saturated marketplace that has seen the New York Restauranteur’s eponymous Steakhouse at Aria overlooked for rankings amongst the city’s best, but recently reintroducing Chef Sean Griffin’s talents to some of the best protein and produce available a nine-course tour of sixteen menu items on Friday showed the sort of creativity rarely associated with restaurants pigeonholed for grilled meats.
Certainly more modern than the soft stylings seen from a fountainside table at Bellagio, the dark interior and wall-sourced lighting adding intimacy to booths while tables near the expansive wine rack are better lit from spotlights up above, music trends a bit ‘bumping’ at times but is never intrusive in the experience, just enough to drown the din of a 400+ person room.
Acknowledging that my menu was part self-selected and otherwise carte-blanche at a discounted tasting-menu price bolstered by a few luxury ingredients and service beyond reproach, it was after greetings from Chefs, Managers, and Sommelier that the meal got started, a $16 Lemon Drop dressing up Soju in citrus beneath a salted rim with herbals greeting both the palate and nose.
Almost empty for the first hour of my meal, but filling to 2/3 capacity by the time 7:30pm rolled around, it was as demi-portions of most of the plates that the menu progressed and with an excellent bread basket featuring warm pretzels and lightly spiced crisps clearly warranting overindulgence the menu evening thankfully started off lightly, two thin slices of wagyu draped delicately over cream-centered fritters with shredded truffles adding a bold and aromatic edge.
Favoring the produce of Kerry Clasby for almost every plate in the place Chef Griffin presented course two as “a farmers basket from the Intuitive Forager,” the smoothness of the cheese playing beautifully off peerless figs, grapes, apples, and pears with nuance and crunch added by a crisp made of rice flour and ground sesame seeds.
Essentially incapable of failing with a perfectly seared slice of foie gras floated on brioche in a bubbling broth of top grade sake with notes described by the restaurant’s Somm, it was onward to a surprisingly even better bird that the evening moved forth, the grilled tempura-fried chicken offering the utmost amount of crunch encircling juicy flesh as hot sauce dissolved in butter found its foil in tender spinach beneath.
Next offering two protiens I’d suggested as ‘dull’ when asked why my self-seleccted menu contained no fish, suffice it to say that although the salmon was well cooked it was completely secondary to the quality of accoutrements including shaved truffles and lightly sweetened parsnips in two forms while the sashimi-grade scallop may as well have been raw at its interior beneath a caramelized sear while light heat accented the aromatic broth.
Acknowledging jokes about ordering short ribs at a steakhouse, but worth tossing that rule out the window for the soy-soaked masterpiece that embodies Vongerichten’s East-West fusion style, it was in three carefully sourced steaks along with sides that savories concluded, each medium-rare strip tender and remarkably different, the nutty dry-aged funk of the Australian hybrid my personal favorite while both the sweet potato and truffle topped pasta were both sides one may wish to hoard rather than share.
Impressed by elaborate desserts at PRIME, but seeing the menu trend more upscale-comfortable on the Aria’s second floor, one would be hard-pressed to name s better apple pie in the city than the cast-iron masterpiece with a sugar crusted lattice and although the almond cake itself was a bit more dry than one might have wanted despite the sorbet, figs, and balsamic a far better composition was found in the tasting-menu-only sundae, a case of the classic flavors of peanut butter and jelly reinvented with no layer upon layer of texture and intrigue.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Undoubtedly underregarded in a city where steakhouses sometimes seem far too common, Jean Georges Steakhouse not only steps outside the tried-and-true formula of success but does so with some of the best ingredients in the city, a fact easily overlooked by the expense account or convention crowd but one that shows the work of a kitchen willing to take the extra steps to provide those paying attention a truly excellent experience.
RECOMMENDED: Crunchy Organic Chicken, Baked Sweet Potato, Dry Aged Rangers Valley Australian Beef, Soy-Glazed Short Rib, Market Apple Pie.
AVOID: The Almond Cake was too dry and the baguette in the bread basket fails to live up to the rest.
TIP: Offering a $69 early evening menu, $125 tasting menu, and daily specials there are plenty of great ways to dine at Jean Georges Steakhouse without breaking the bank…and plenty of good ways to go all-in, as well.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor