Every year for our birthdays, we always go out to eat as a family a couple of days before our actual birthdays to celebrate. This year for my sister’s birthday, we decided on Nougatine, Jean Georges’ sister restaurant. I made reservations on OpenTable for 7:30pm the day after Christmas, since we would be out shopping that day. We actually arrived at Nougatine around 6:30 because I overestimated the amount of time it would take for us to make our way up to Columbus Circle. Even though we were an hour early, they were able to seat us and it was a pretty big table too! Once our coats and bags were checked, we were led to our seats and given menus to look over.
After we ordered they brought over a tiny cup of apple cider and something that resembled a tater tot. Our waiter had described the “tater tot” to us, but I didn’t quite catch it since I was too busy with the wine list. They offer champagne, white and red wines for tasting, by the glass and by the bottle, which I thought was a nice touch. My mother ordered a taste of their Merlot since she isn’t a heavy drinker. I ordered a glass of Riesling (Von Hovel Scharzholberg 2008), which was just the way I like my whites – sweet and dry.
As my appetizer, I ordered their Foie Gras and Strawberry Brulee ($21.00), which was amazing! The thick layer of foie gras with a brioche bottom was so good! There was surprisingly a lot of foie gras and everyone kept stealing bites of it. The burnt sugar topping was a nice sweet compliment to the otherwise salty dish.
My mother went with their Tuna Tartare ($21.00), which had an avocado bottom and a spicy radish topping. This is exactly how I’ve always thought tuna tartare should taste like. The tuna was untampered with – it was just pure tuna chunks, which I loved. I personally dislike it when tuna tartars incorporate radish or onion chunks inside the mixture because I feel like it takes away from the natural flavor of the tuna. This tuna tartare was superb!
My sister went with Salmon Sashimi, which lies on crispy rice and chipotle mayo ($19.00). I had one bite of this and I was very surprised by the crispy rice bottom. I was expecting a potato croquette type of bottom but the rice was a nice surprise.
For my entrée, I went with their Lobster Burger ($22.00), which comes with fries and spicy pickles. I didn’t care too much for the pickles but the burger and fries were amazing. The lobster patty was filled with lobster and I felt like I had huge chunks of it in every bite. The fries were also crunchy and not oily at all. So good!
My sister ordered their Prosciutto wrapped Pork Chop ($36.00), which is nestled over a bed of mushrooms. The mushrooms were a bit salty if you eat too much of it at once, but I still liked them. The pork chop was very tender and juicy and my sister almost wished she could pick up the bone and finish off all the extra meat!
My mother went with their Baked Salmon, which is nestled atop bak choy and mashed potatoes ($25.00). The salmon was baked to perfection – the insides were still a little uncooked and the outside was very tender. In the words of my sister, “This is how salmon is meant to be cooked”.
For dessert, I had the Warm Pear and Sour Cherry Crumble ($10.00), which comes with a scoop of almond crusted ice cream. The bowl the crumble came in made it a bit hard to scoop into the thick crumble crust but otherwise it was delicious! The crumble was very crisp and crunchy and paired with the ice cream it was both hot and cold.
My sister ordered the signature Jean Georges’ Warm Chocolate Cake ($10.00), which is paired with vanilla bean ice cream. This is basically their version of a lava cake and boy, was it good. The moment you stick your spoon into the cake, liquid chocolate flows out and mixes with the ice cream. Both hot and cold went together perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish to the night.
Our entire dinner took over 2 hours, which is standard for a place like Nougatine. The fact that our entire section was only seen to by one headwaiter made dish clearing and additional ordering a bit hard but overall the service was adequate. I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at Nougatine and didn’t feel like I didn’t get my money’s worth at all. Definitely a must try if you’re in the mood to splurge!