Nougatine ~ Orderinny

Thursday, June 01, 2006


It was a hot, sultry afternoon on the last week of May. The girls' blouses were damp by the time they reached Trump International Hotel and gratefully they ducked into the cool recesses of the towering building. The droning noise from the streets ceased as they entered the hotel's famous restaurant and were greeted by a trio of smiling hostesses. "Welcome to Jean-Georges. Your table is ready. "
Today, I played hooky from studying and with Ruoying, was set to enjoy 3 hours pretending to be a lady who lunch. Our destination, Nougatine, the casual dining space adjacent to Jean Georges, celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's flagship restaurant. While we couldn't afford to feast on caviar on coddled eggs, thanks to a welcome attempt to bring elegant dining to the masses, were able to enjoy a 3 course lunch for $24.07 each. Walking into the restaurant, we were brought into a cool and airy space that was Nougatine. The bright and clean room, along with powerful air-conditioning, helped cool us down as we contemplated the short menu, consisting of 2 choices for each of the 3 courses. We chose everything naturally, save for the pasta dish that neither one was willing to forgo the steak for.
The appetizers came soon after we finished our first rolls, which were cold but tasty as cold rolls went.
A pink watermelon gazpacho slid easily down the throat, occasionally surprising us with the sharpness coming from the chili mixed into the soup. A dish of a poached egg wobbling atop a bed of asparagus and shaved bacon bits on the hand was hearty and highlighted the sweetness of fresh and young asparagus perfectly.
Soon after, entrees were served. Both of us ordered the steak with ginger polenta and sauteed greens. The meat was flavorful but why did it remind us of chinese sauteed beef? Perhaps it was the ginger, too familiar to our Asian tastebuds. Still, the beef was nicely done despite the ginger overkill.
Desserts came next, two simply dishes, unfussy but not unsophisticated. The blueberry pie was sweet and tart, the fruit sauce further accentuated by a tinge of meyer lemon and a light vanilla ice cream flecked with vanilla bean. The white chocolate pot de creme with strawberry sorbet and a light chocolate mousse was light but rich at the same time, and the tartness of the fruit helped quell the queasiness from eating too much cream.
Too soon, lunch was over. While not a stunning meal, it was still a solid lunch and a welcome respite from the mundane life of a working lady and a student. Sated, we walked out of the hotel back into the crowded streets of New York, allowing the humid air to lull us into a dull drowsiness that the big meal had started for us...

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