These past few days I’ve gone on a tour of some of the elite restaurants of NYC. I love NYC for many reasons but the restaurant scene is definitely the biggest draw for me. I’d argue that New York is the best restaurant city in the world. San Fransisco, Las Vegas and Paris are the only cities I’ve been to that come close, but I’d still choose NYC becasue of the shear number of awesome restaurants at every budget level and cuisine. Anyway, for this trip we choose to go to Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, Jean Geroges, and Jewel Bako. The reservations were secured for me by the American Express concierge, which is a benefit of the Amex Platinum card that I absolutely love and take advantage of all the time.
Eleven Madison Park
We kicked off the trip at Eleven Madison Park, I had wanted to dine at this restaurant for a while now becasue I was excited about the closure and renovation that they had recently completed. Eleven Madison Park is the most playful of the restaurants we visited. The amuse bouche, caviar course, as well as our flatware and napkins were waiting on the table in an assortment of wrapped gift boxes that we had to open to find.
The remainder of the meal flowed nicely and there were some terrific courses.
The seared Hudson Valley foie gras wrapped in beets and beet greens was possibly the best I’ve ever had. Eleven Madison Park is a terrific restaurant that is not to be missed if you want to dine at the best restaurants in New York City. One thing I love about this restaurant is that they don’t nickel and dime you. The price on the menu is the price you pay and all of the many options are included.
Per Se was the first 3 Michelin starred restaurant I had ever dined at. And for years I had always considered it my favorite restaurant. Many years and countless Michelin Stars later I began to doubt if my love of Per Se was the actual food and experience or the memory of being wowed for the first time. Needless to say I was very excited to return to see if it was actually as good as I remembered.
The food at Per Se is flawless. The Oysters and Pearls is my favorite caviar course at any restaurant. The textures, temperatures, and tastes all work so well together. Per Se excels at the flow of the meal. By this I mean that they don’t leave you 30 min between courses. Nor do they rush you. I know that to accomplish this the kitchen has to be running like a swiss watch which is why I marvel at this feat.
Per Se also excels at the intangibles. It seems like the whole staff graduated from the Culinary Institute of America so when I mentioned that I’m attending there right now many of the staff came by to greet us and talk about where I was in the program. In addition they sent out an extra free course for our table which is always a really nice touch. Something so simple really makes people feel like a VIP.
Dessert at Per Se is always a multi course experience. We began with a trio of desserts that were amazing and my favorite was the orange peel ice cream. Next came warm cinnamon sugar apple cider doughnuts with a semi freddo cappuccino (coffee ice cream with frozen milk foam) which needless to say were delicious. And lastly they come with a assorted box of chocolate truffles which you can have as many as you want. I took 3 as I was already so full (compared, of course, to one of each).
And then lastly we were offered a tour of the kitchen. I never ask to see the kitchen but I always say yes if offered. And the Per Se kitchen was immaculate. So clean, so organized, not even a single person had a stain on a chef coat or apron. Ran like a swiss watch!
The 3rd restaurant on our list was a restaurant that lost their 3rd Michelin star this last time round. Although Michelin is the guide I trust the most, I wanted to see for myself. Jean Georges is one of the long standing NYC elites and the flagship of the the revered Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I had mixed expectations going in becasue going into one of Chef Vongerichten’s restaurants I always have high expectations.
The caviar dish to begin the meal stood up to the Oysters and Pearls I had the night before. And that’s as high a compliment I know how to pay. It was osetra caviar in a perfectly butter poached turnip. This was followed up by a wild mushroom soup which was also extraordinarily good. Then we were served a black sea bass which was terrific. I don’t know if they saw me coming but black sea bass is currently my favorite fish. Of course a meal like this wouldn’t be complete without a lobster dish which was my favorite of the trip. There was also a raw scallop dish with black truffle that was quite explosive with flavor.
The dessert at Jean Georges that night was out of this world. It was the best dessert I’ve had in a very very long time. Being at the end of the fall menu the dessert was naturally apple. And boy was it apple something like apples in 9 different ways and they were all delicious.
And then of course some petit fours to round out the evening. Let me say that I think Jean Georges is on par if not better than the majority of the current 3 Michelin starred restaurants in NYC. I hope for their sake that their stint at 2 Stars is only one year but since I know the quality for myself I will continue to go to this restaurant and continue to consider it on par with the other NYC 3 Michelin juggernauts.
After 3 outstanding yet decidedly caloric meals we wanted to have our last meal be on the light and refreshing side. And what, after all, is better than sushi? After much deliberation I decided on Jewel Bako becasue I’m trying to slowly eat my way through the Michelin Starred sushi restaurants in NYC. If you’ve never eaten sushi at this level let me say that the experience is nothing like your average corner sushi restaurant.
The way it works is that a sushi chef just starts making you sushi piece by piece. You eat them as he makes them. You don’t control the wasabi or the soy sauce. Your sushi chef decides which pieces deserve soy sauce and which ones pair better with citrus and salt.
Some wild caught blue fin tuna from Boston. It was like A5 wagyu beef or foie gras. Unbelievable!
This was one of my best sushi experiences and couldn’t think of a better way wind up a fantastic 4 days in NYC!