Not that this is a terrible thing. Given the exaggerated, hothouse quality of Jean-Georges’s recent productions, there’s something to be said for subtle flavors and a dose of Zen-like calm. The beady-eyed food professionals at my table were all keyed up at the beginning of our meal, but by the time dessert arrived, we were nodding drowsily over our plates, talking in subdued tones about which dissatisfied celebrity might be flipping what apartment upstairs. The desserts, conjured up by Vongerichten prodigy Johnny Iuzzini, did little to rouse us from this agreeable stupor. The best was a rich mixture of poached cherries and sabayon poured over spoonfuls of pistachio ice cream. There’s also a nice chocolate pudding decorated with candied violets, and sugary beignet-like objects, which you can wash down with a selection of exotic Asian teas. Is this a pleasurable experience? Sure. Is it worth groveling to secure a table? If you long for a glimpse of Nicole Kidman, possibly. If not, there are certainly other places around town where you can find a good lamb chop and a nice cup of Orchid Oolong tea.
Address: 176 Perry St., nr. the West Side Hwy.; 212-352-1900
Hours: Lunch, noon to 3 p.m. daily. Dinner, 5 to 11:30 p.m daily.
Prices: Appetizers, $10 to $40; entrées, $18 to $38.
Ideal Meal: Rice-cracker-crusted tuna; crunchy rabbit; poached cherries with pistachio ice cream.
Note: You may not spot a celebrity, but you’ll have much better luck securing a table at lunch.
Jean-Georges: Fighting the Backlash