>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Le Bernardin, Daniel, Per Se, and Jean-Georges. Imagine the excitement and hype that followed when we Bostonians found out that finally, finally Jean-Georges Vongerichten was going to open a restaurant in Boston.
It's been 24 years. Jean-Georges opened his first US restaurant in Boston. Called Lafayette, it was located in the former Swissôtel near Chinatown. A year later he moved to New York, and still lives there today.
Situated in the new W Hotel, Jean Georges' new Boston venture is called "Market." The concept behind this restaurant is that everything is locally sourced. The restaurant relies "entirely on the bounty of area farms and fisherman," only the fourth of its kind in the Jean-Georges Empire (the others are in Paris, Vancouver, and Atlanta). The restaurant also aims to serve seasonal ingredients, and Jean-Georges insists that all of his shellfish is fresh and wild. Many of the dishes are local interpretations of "greatest hits" from other Jean-Georges restaurants around the world.
A few weeks ago, I visited Market by Jean-Georges for lunch with Bryan and our friend Peter (guest author of the awesome Melisse review). Peter and his wife, Chia Chi, had just enjoyed an absolutely incredible dinner at Jean-Georges in New York. Bryan and I had also tried their amazing $28 three-course lunch last year and thought it was very, very good. Naturally we were super curious about this place.
Three Course Market Lunch
If you go for lunch, I would highly recommend getting the Three Course Market Lunch, which is a great value at only $24. I have written the prices below of what these items would have cost, a la carte (you can see it's much much higher).
Tuna Tartare Avocado, Spicy Radish, Ginger Dressing ($14)
My favorite dish of the meal! The tuna, avocados, radish - everything was really fresh. The dish was surprisingly spicy, and seemed to have hints a Srirachi sauce-like flavor, which I loved.
Slowly Cooked Salmon Mashed Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Truffle Vinaigrette* ($21)
Shredding Brussels sprouts seems to be the in thing to do these days. I actually liked them prepared this way. The brussels sprouts were flavorful with just the right amount of texture. The slow-cooked salmon was perfectly soft and tender, flaking off easily with a fork. The truffle vinaigrette was fine, although unmemorable. Over all, it was a decent dish considering the price of the Market lunch, but definitely not up to par with the food I typically associated with Jean-Georges.
Parmesan Crusted Organic Chicken, Artichokes, Lemon-Basil Butter ($18)
Peter got this dish, and unfortunately, he hated it. Though it was decently fried, it was severely over-salted. You can see the salt crystals in the picture! It ruined the entree for him, sadly. I tried a bite and I agree it was super salty, although I tend to be sensitive to salt. Bryan can eat much more salt than I can, and he even agreed it was too salty.
Green Apple Crisp Cinnamon Ice Cream
Dessert was solid, but again, nothing particularly remarkable. The crumble part was quite enjoyable, and I'm pretty sure I finished everything,
Chocolate Pudding Gently Whipped Cream
Bryan loves pudding, so it's not hard to please him in this department. This pudding had a nice, dark chocolately flavor and was not too sweet. I typically associated pudding with what you get in those JELL-O boxes, and I cringe a bit when I think of that. This was nothing like that. It was quite pleasant, and I was wishing I had ordered this instead of the crumble, mostly because it was less heavy.
Over all Thoughts?
Ignoring the overly salty chicken (which may have just been an anomaly?), this restaurant is not bad. I like the idea of a "Market" selling food that aims to be local, seasonal, wild, and fresh. The Market Lunch is a great deal; all of the food (except for the chicken) was prepared pretty well. Don't expect the amazingly inventive flavors and perfect execution that you'd see in his three-star establishment in New York. However, you will get a solid three-course lunch made with fresh, local ingredients for only $24.
Would I go back if I had to pay their normal prices? My initial answer might be no. Especially if the over-salting of food is not an anomaly, then I really would be hesitant about coming back. At that price range, there's plenty of competition in Boston.
But perhaps it's a bit too early too make any final conclusions.
I should at least try dinner there once. The 6-course Market Menu is only $58, which feels "cheap" after our trip to Las Vegas (posts coming soon!). I'll definitely report back once I try this place for dinner!
Market By Jean-Georges
100 Stuart St.
Boston, MA 02116