Questions About Lunch @ Jean Georges
We won't be wearing jeans and sneakers, but how strict is the expectation to be wearing suits or jackets? Can we get away with slacks/trousers, button-downs, sweaters, etc?
Also, when we made our reservation we specifically requested the main dining room and not the casual area. Does this make a difference as well, not only with the dress code but with regards to the menus offered and service? Their website doesn't make much of a distinction between the two areas though I have heard that there is a difference.
Yes, there are definitely differences. The formal/main dining room is Jean Georges while the more casual cafe-style restaurant is called Nougatine. (You walk through Nougatine to get to JG. It's also where the bar area is located.) It's been my experience when calling to reserve that they ask which one you want, so if you said the formal dining room, you will be dining in Jean Georges.
With regard to the menus, they do differ, especially pertaining to the bargain lunches. Nougatine offers 3 courses for $24, and choices are very limited (I believe just 2 for each course). JG offers 2 courses for $28 + $14 for each additional course, and you make your selections from the regular menu.
JG is absolutely worth it for the full-on experience including amuse-bouches and post-dessert lavishing, whereas Nougatine, though pleasant, does not come to this level of pampering and decadence. There's lots of good food in Manhattan, but in my experience, nowhere like JG that is at once a grand *** restaurant AND extremely hospitable to all comers, not a trace of snobbery, nor pushing you to order expensive wines (or for that matter, any wine at all - plenty of folks just have iced tea with their lunch).
We went on Election Day (main dining room) and can confirm that your attire will be fine. WRT the "casual" option: the lady on the phone said that would be Nougatine, which does not offer the $28 two-course "Tastes of Autumn" that you probably want. BTW, big yum-o for the tuna ribbons, peekytoe crab ravioli, scallops (sadly, with a supplement) and chocolate cake.