Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jean Georges (with a side of Katie Couric).

Tuna tartare at Nougatine. Spoiled from all future dishes of the same name.

Let me set the stage. Trump tower, gleaming gold high rise at 1 Central Park West. I'm in the bathroom washing up before I go to lunch with my friend Tory. The bathroom is far from what you might expect, either in this towering tower, in something owned by "the Trump" or, last but not least, the only Ladies room for a restaurant with three Michelin stars. Ok. So I'm in the bathroom. And so is Tory, along with one other woman who has just scooted into the one and only stall. We're moving around slowly and carefully like goldfish in the tiniest of glass bowls. The door opens and in comes a small, well-dressed woman. She asks us if we're in line, a totally logical question on entry to a bathroom. Eyes downcast, like all good New Yorkers who have seen everything, Tory says something along the lines of no and she exits the room. At that point I take a close look at the woman who's just joined me in this tiny closet. It's Katie Couric. She smiles at me, her eyes simultaneously crinkling and twinkling. Her chestnut hair has that just blown flip. We trade positions and I grab my coat and jacket and as Katie (excuse me, you don't mind the first name do you?), Katie tries the door handle to the stall. I'm standing like two inches from her and say the only possible response, "There's someone in there." "Oh," Katie says, looking right at me, dazzling me with her "I'm on TV everyday" star persona, "Thank you for letting me know." We smile and I turn and leave.

Now, how can a lunch following on the heels of Katie, a meal at Jean Georges' restaurant Nougatine, how could it possibly be bad? Granted we had a slightly rocky start with our service (as in, we had none for the first ten minutes) but after that, it was phenomenal. I had Tuna Tartare (shown above), a pan roasted skate on cauliflower and the warm chocolate cake (shown below). It's a $32 prix fix that will blow you away. Sure it's been around for years, sure we were surrounded by a businessy Upper West Sidey clientele, but the food was delicious and I savored every bite. Wrapping up the meal, sorry to see my third course come to its finale, I glanced out the windows. On that unseasonably warm day I could see Central Park, the trees changing colors, leaves gliding down to the sidewalk. I could feel New York welcoming me with all its might. Katie, I'll be back. Will you?

Obligatory chocolate dessert. I wished I had ordered the other, but yeah, this was really good.

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