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83 Very Good

Possibly the least heralded and most overlooked restaurant in town.

1 Central Park W., New York, NY, 10023


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The lowdown

Nougatine has always felt like something of a secret. It’s part of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flagship restaurant, Jean Georges. The food comes from the same kitchen. The service staff is just as warm and attentive as it is in the more formal dining room. Yet it never feels like the junior-varsity version of the “real” restaurant on the other side of the dividing wall. Instead, it’s the less-fussy, more-energetic barroom and café, where the experience is less expensive but never suffers as a result. The evenings are lovely (especially if you get a seat near the windows overlooking Central Park), but the best time to go is lunch, when a prix fixe menu offers favorites like tuna tartare, fried calamari, and, for dessert, chocolate molten cake from the chef who many say invented the recipe. Of course, it’s often swarming with tourists these days, so it’s safe to say the secret is out, but that doesn’t make an afternoon meal here any less enjoyable.

Alan Sytsma

What you need to know

Insider Tips The prix fixe lunch isn’t the bargain that it once was, but at $44 for three courses, it’s still the cheapest way to try Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s food.

Recommended DishesTuna tartare; artichoke; warm chocolate cake.

DrinksFull Bar

Noise LevelCivilized