Jean-Georges, the flagship restaurant of master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is the ultimate fine dining experience. The atmosphere is elegant and sophisticated, with white tablecloths, high ceilings, and a view of Central Park. The service is formal but not stuffy. Jackets are required for men, and the customers look great.
Most of all, the food is exceptional. In a city full of terrific restaurants at every price point, Jean-Georges stands out for me as one of the very best, where no matter how much I hype it up in my head, the food is always better than I had remembered.
A rare constant on the seasonally changing menu is a dish of yellowfin tuna ribbons with avocado and spicy radish. The fish is immaculately fresh and tender but with a delicate bite, almost like al dente pasta. It is served over creamy avocado with a deeply flavored soy-ginger marinade mixed with kaffir lime syrup. A few drops of good chili oil float on top. The flavors are clean and pure, well-balanced, with a wonderful combination of textures.
Dinner is pricey, but for a special meal I recommend reserving a table for lunch, where Jean-Georges offers virtually the same menu for a fraction of the cost. Although the price has increased over the last few years, at $38 for two courses or $57 for three, it remains one of the best fine dining values in the city. Also try the somewhat more casual Nougatine restaurant next door, which offers both a la carte and price fixed menus.
A recipe is available for the tuna ribbons at Food & Wine if you want to try making it at home.
1 Central Park West
Tel. (212) 299-3900