Yesterday I was planning to have a mellow, not-too-long lunch with David Leite at Cafe Nougatine, the casual restaurant in the atrium of Jean Georges.
But chef and owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten was talking on the phone when I came in, saw me, sauntered over to our table and asked if he could cook for us.
To say no would have been mean.
So we ate:
Caviar over scrambled eggs and other goodies, served in an eggshell
Santa Barbara sea urchin, black bread, jalapeño and yuzu
Sea trout sashimi draped in trout eggs with lemon, dill and horseradish
Foie gras brûlé, slowly roasted strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar
Crab and mango salad with chile-Champagne sabayon
Halibut steamed with honshimeji mushrooms and lemon grass consommé (the server originally told us it was black cod and then discovered that the chef had swapped in halibut instead because it was especially good that day; you gotta love it when servers correct their mistakes, tell you when they don't know something and then find out, and generally treat you like a person)
Smoked squab à l'orange, Asian pear, candied tamarind
A plate of four desserts themed in chocolate and strawberry: Molten chocolate cake with Madagascar vanilla ice cream, mini chocolate-hazelnut panini, strawberry shortcake, strawberry ice cream with strawberry-lavendar fruit leather. We were instructed to eat the molten cake first and the ice cream last, which isn’t the way most people would do it, but I think fruit desserts should follow chocolate ones as they refresh the palate and leave a better aftertaste.