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Nougatine or JeanGeorges?

I am taking out my sister for her birthday. We could not get the times I wanted at Jean Georges, so I booked Nougatine. I have eaten at JG (Probably my favorite NYC restaurant) but never at Nougatine.

Just wondering how different these two experiences are food-wise... I know what the two areas look like but am wondering if we should try to move to the main restaurant and take a less desirable time.

We have no food taboos. I would welcome suggestions on what to order if we stay at Nougatine and, if we move to JG, what are the standouts on the current menu?

Thanks...

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  1. I've never been to JG, but I loved Nougatine. For the price I paid ($35 prix fixe), I received four of the best courses I've had...Even better than my $200/head meal at Bouley. The service, atmosphere and execution were excellent.

    www.thelunchbelle.com

    6 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila

      I am so glad to hear that. Thanks for posting...the price, while not a major factor, is certainly an issue.

      1. re: erica

        Sure! Let us know what you decide to do and have a great time! :)

        www.thelunchbelle.com

        1. re: LeahBaila

          I agree with you! Two of us had a wonderful dinner there last night--the pea soup was THE best soup I have eaten in my life! The fois gras brulee is, of course, stupendous and the short ribs were fabulous as well. Two of us, without dessert and with one wine and one cocktail, paid $125 before tip. I can't wait to go back and try the early dinner special...thanks for the input, everyone!

          By the way, I was told that we could NOT order from the main JG menu at Nougatine.

          1. re: erica

            Glad to hear it, Erica! I love Nougatine and can't wait to return, as well! : )

            www.thelunchbelle.com

      2. re: LeahBaila

        I agree with The Lunch Belle. I also have eaten many times at Nougatine and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Had the pleasure of observing Jean George himself expediting on time. Its just more fun and just as good as JG. I have eaten in both rooms and feel more relaxed in the Nougatine!

        1. re: trixareforkids

          Thanks! We will stick with Nougatine!

      3. Nougatine is terrific-the short rib dish is one of my favorite things, anywhere.
        The foie gras starter is amazing (providing you like citrus).
        One note, the shrimp salad is huge-far larger than a starter usually is.

        1. First time I went was Nougatine. Loved the experience but felt like I had missed out on something better going on in the other room.

          Went back to try JG and actually missed the feel of Nougatine, which I think I might prefer. Same food, just a more limited offering. Also, for lunches, which doesn't apply to your situation, It's probably a better bargain, because it comes with dessert. You miss out on the extras at the end, but really, some marshmallows and chocolates really shouldn't overshadow a meal, and something is off when it does. I'm glad I experienced it, but I could be happy with going back to Nougatine. If you have specific dishes you love, make sure they're offered on the other menu first. Also if your sister has never been, she might feel left out, especially if you keep talking about how much better it is in JG. Really, though...it's the same place, with just different moods.

          As for the room, I thought JG was nice, but Nougatine made me feel good. The seating isn't as tight, and is more airy, comfortable, to me. You have the view of the kitchen, and the bar for people watching. Walking through a dining room to be seated is weird to me, and for some reason, less so then people crossing through on their way to be seated. I also found the service in JG to be awkward, where my experience in Nougatine was impressive, though a little over the top. For a birthday, I'd say Nougatine is a great choice.

          30 Replies
          1. re: sugartoof

            While we haven't eaten at Nougatine, we waited near the bar for a few minutes until our table in Jean Georges was ready and then walked through to get to the formal dining room. While I can't speak to the differences in the food, I can compare the ambiance.

            We obviously have opposing views because I thought that the tables in Nougatine were much closer to each other than the wide spacing in Jean Georges. J.G. felt more spacious, and the decor was more elegant. Nougatine had a vibrant buzz, while J.G. was more hushed. As for the service, the faultless execution we experiencesd at J.G. was the furthest thing from awkward.

            1. re: RGR

              RGR, Eat at both and then you can make a fair comparison.

              There are rooms elsewhere which are far more elegant then the forced fancy of JG. The hushed level of conversation is because it's so compressed and awkward in there, especially if you're seated along one of the window booths where there is no space between tables. I felt the vibrant buzz you described in Nougatine matched the food better. Sitting at the bar isn't going to give you an accurate impression. To each their own though. I felt JG was nice enough but way overhyped.

              1. re: sugartoof

                I have eaten at both and I have to say that JG is much more consistent and better in quality than Nougatine.

                While the food at Nougatine CAN BE good, they are very inconsistent. I have gotten succelent chicken and fish as well as overcooked meat and bland food. Note that the kitchen of Nougatine is NOT the same as JG's. The real JG team cooks the food for JG's main dining room, while the team at Nougatine cooks for Nougatine room as well as the hotel service. I believe the dessert team is the same.

                Besides food, I also found the service at JG to be much more professional. I have a few not-so-good experiences at Nougatine from the service perspective, and if it is a special occasion, I will not want to risk having bad service.

                Overall I found JG to be superior to Nougatine, even on a good day for Nougatine.

                1. re: kobetobiko

                  Fair enough, in regards to you experience. Luckily the OP had a nice time.

                  I don't think we know for sure what the arrangement is with the two kitchens. That was just the report from someone claiming to have worked there, and people who want to believe they're getting something superior when they pay more and eat in the formal room. It defies all conventional wisdom to expedite the exact same dish, with the exact same ingredients from two different kitchens, being served to one subdivided establishment. The idea that Nougatine is sharing a kitchen with room service also sounds like a bit of a myth just in terms of the business aspect alone.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    Nougatine and the main dining room do not share the same menu. In fact their dishes are hardly the same.

                    Of course you can have doubts in the kitchen arrangements. I don't work there, and someone who claimed to have worked there said that. You don't always not to trust information on this board. However, one thing I am sure was that I have dined at both places multiple times and the food at the main dining room is CLEARLY superior to and more consistent than that at Nougatine.

                    Of course, you can also doubt my judgement too.
                    .

                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      I'm not doubting your judgement, and I haven't visited enough to comment on consistency but my personal experience is that Nougatine was equally as good, if not better (though it was likely what I ordered that made the difference). Like I said, Nougatine made me want to go back, JG made me glad I had tried it once.

                      There are certainly reasons to give preference to JG, like a more extensive menu, and style...but I personally believe the rest is psychosomatic.

                      Regarding the menu. Nougatine features several dishes also found at JG. It's not an entirely different menu. It would be interesting to see one of the food blogs dive into this issue once and for all though. Sounds like a case for that E. Levine guy.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        I made a mistake above about my bill--it was $135 for two of us before tip, not $125. The champagne/chili cocktail was $18 and glass of Riesling $15. So food costs are quite reasonable!

                        1. re: erica

                          I went to JG formal for lunch last week. The glass of Riesling for $15 was a great glass of wine. We had it. The any 2 course lunch for $28 to me is a steal. Great buy. Great food. Great service. The bill for 3 of us came to $143 without tip. Loved the place.

                          1. re: irvingk

                            I just heard about this lunch deal this morning from a friend.
                            Although the website isn't totally clear on it, he says they do serve this lunch on Saturdays. Is that true?

                            1. re: rcburli

                              Yes, Jean Georges does serve lunch on Saturdays.

                    2. re: sugartoof

                      I am a huge fan of Nougatine, been many times and never to J-G, and I believe Kobetobiko is correct about the two kitchens. I recently had Sunday brunch at Nougatine, when J-G is not open, and the open kitchen at the far end of Nougatine was not operating. The food was being brought from somewhere in back of the kitchen -- a downstairs kitchen I suspect that has been alluded to in this forum. I do not believe it is an urban myth.

                      I'm certain I would also love J-G if I were to eat there, and eventually will, but every experience I have had at Nougatine in terms of both food and service has been outstanding. Anything under J-G's auspices is good enough for me. There have been times I have eaten at Nougatine where I have observed him watching over things like a hawk and intervening if he sees any signs of assistance needed. At one lunch, the coat check could not find my companion's coat and J-G came in to help us search the coat room! Very high standards on all fronts.

                  2. re: sugartoof

                    sugartoof,

                    With regard to the issue of table spacing, I don't need to have eaten in both restaurants to make a fair and accurate comparison with regard to the question of table spacing, since I was physically in both rooms and could plainly see the situation. I didn't sit at the bar but, rather we stood nearby and surveyed the room. Then, we walked *through* Nougatine to get into Jean Georges.

                    It was very clear to me that the tables in Nougatine were more closely spaced than the tables in Jean Georges. And even if I had never been physically in either restaurant, it is easy to judge the table spacing merely by looking at the photographs of both dining rooms on the Jean-Georges website.

                    http://www.jean-georges.com

                    1. re: RGR

                      Sorry, but both the pictures on the website, and my experience having been seated and dining at both tell a different story. Especially at 2 party seating.
                      You're entitled to your opinion, guess, observation... whatever it was.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        There is worlds of difference between the two restaurants. First, the menus are completely different. Second, it is true that the nougatine kitchen is downstairs. Easy to tell when you go to Nougatine on Sunday and the jean georges kitchen is empty. The spacing of tables is also very different. Jean Georges is an elegant dining room; those tables you complain about along the wall opposite the windows are often considered to be the best tables in the restaurant.

                        1. re: sethd

                          Why are they the best tables? We could barely have a conversation because we were cropped so tightly next to the table next to us. When the waiter addressed the table next to us, it seemed redundant when 5 minutes later he came and started to give us the same routine.

                          The Sunday brunch doesn't indicate anything conclusive to me. If you're ordering Butternut squash soup, why would they have two different kitchen staffs preparing two sets of the same soup? That flies in the face of basic restaurant business practice.

                          I have no idea why people continue to say the menus are completely different. They do share dishes, and it's misleading that people keep stating otherwise.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            Sugartoof, I really don't know what restaurant you are talking about. First, they are only two dishes that overlap the two menus. One is the tuna tartare appetizer, which is found on both menus but in slightly different preparations. The other is the foie brulee. The rest of the menu is completely different in conception and style. In addition, I have never heard anybody else complain about the main dining room being too loud. I can see people complaining about table spacing in Nougatine; the tables are too close together, especially in the front, near the windows. Just some backround for you: i have eaten at jean georges at least 3 times a week for the last 8 years.

                            1. re: sethd

                              So after eating there 3 times a week for 8 years you never noticed that both menus rotated at least the butternut squash soup, the snapper, the skate, the salmon, and the short rib, with the later receiving several recommendations in this thread? Eh, it happens.

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                There has never been salmon on the jean georges menu. Yes, the skate is on both menus, but with different sauces. And skate is only on the lunch jean georges menu not dinner. Remember, they are many different ways to prepare each dish. Just because the protein is the same, doesn't mean the preparation is the same.

                                1. re: sethd

                                  Butternut soup and the short rib are currently on both menus. Exact same dish. Same preparation. So I think we've settled that.

                                  Jean Georges has apparently served a number of salmon dishes according to these reviews on yelp:
                                  http://www.yelp.com/biz/jean-georges-...

                                  I guess things get wild on the 4 days you're not there.

                                  1. re: sethd

                                    "There has never been salmon on the jean georges menu."

                                    Even for those of us who have not dined at Jean Georges with anywhere near your supposed regularity, your statement is totally unbelievable.

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      Nougatine has salmon, right now- and the short ribs served at lunch in JG are the same as in Nougatine...
                                      http://www.jean-georges.com/

                                    2. re: sethd

                                      There most definitely has been salmon on the jean georges menu, because they make both my and my boyfriend's favorite salmon in new york... the presentation is very similar to nougatine's salmon- we dined at the two restaurants a few weeks apart from each other and couldn't notice any striking differences. Same delicious foam, same smooth, tender salmon, cooked perfectly! That being said, we both enjoyed dining at Jean Georges more because of the atmosphere, service, and the seating. We sat in the booths facing the windows and we felt like royalty! We didn't find it at all cramped, and there was enough separation between the tables that we could barely hear the waiters talk to the couple next to us.

                                      -----
                                      Jean Georges
                                      1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                                2. re: sugartoof

                                  I spoke with a friend who has had a tour of the kitchens, and he confirms that there are definitely two -- actually three --different ones. Jean Georges's kitchen is on the same level as the restaurant. Nougatine's food comes from a kitchen in the basement, which also takes care of room service. The pastry kitchen is also in the basement, and it provides desserts for both Jean Georges and Nougatine.

                                  I do agree with you that there are some dishes on the two menus which are the same. In the case of something like the squash soup you mention, it's hard to know whether both kitchens prepare their own batches or only one kitchen prepares the entire batch and then provides a quota to the other kitchen.

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    3 different kitchens makes more sense than the 2.... but it's still a riddle.

                                    I know when I was at Nougatine they ran out of the skirt shortly after we ordered, and switched the dish. The waiter checked with a manager, and then someone at the kitchen upstairs before confirming our order was safe. So I'd love to find out what crazy system they have.

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      In the end, if *you* are pleased with the food at Nougatine, does it really matter which kitchen it comes from? :-)

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        Of course not, and if I happen to have enjoyed my food from the basement kitchen with the second rate staff that splits their time doing room service orders, so be it! I just find it an interesting bit of New York trivia, or folklore. Whichever the case may be.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          I trailed at JG for a day in the pastry kitchen and ended up doing all a lot of production work, making doughs, filling macarons, etc. for both Nougatine and JG. The actual service areas for Nougatine and JG were different but everything was made in the same kitchen. I was also told that special orders from the hotel like birthday cakes were also made in the same pastry kitchen.

                        2. re: RGR

                          I've eaten at both, and found Nougatine to be much more bustling, and, as you say, J.G. to be sedate. The service at the latter was excellent - some of the best I've experienced in NYC - we arrived at 9 and left around 1 a.m., not having realized how horribly late it had gotten. There were others still dining though, and we were not in the least bit made to feel that we had overstayed our welcome. I thought the food at both was extremely good, but perhaps that much more sophisticated at JG. I'm not sure about the other poster's comment about the menu somehow being more limited at JG - that is not my recollection. Nor did I find the atmosphere at JG forced at all, as suggested above - I thought it was quite serene, with very well spaced tables (we sat at the left pretty much just as you enter the room).

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I think the comment was that Nougatine had the more limited menu. JG more extensive.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              Ah - my apologies - I misunderstood that bit.

                      2. The original comment has been removed
                        1. I am debating between the two as well for an upcoming trip to NYC since I've heard so much about their prix fixe lunches. I prefer Jean Georges' menu (wider selection with Foie Gras Brulee, etc.) , but since we are travelling with our two kids (very well-behave) so I am not sure if JG (being more formal) would have an issue with this. Has anyone seen children do lunch there (JG) before?

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: vwong042

                            If you have well behaved kids who like to get dressed up and go nice places, you shouldn't hesitate to give them the Jean George experience, with the housemade marshmallows at the end.

                            Nougatine, is a great option if you have any anxiety at all about the dining situation, and there are some moods where it's preferable. It's a better value, and there's less of a chance in ordering a weaker dish.

                            -----
                            Jean Georges
                            1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                            Nougatine
                            1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              Just to note that if by "dressing up" at Jean Georges you mean jackets, they are not required at lunch.

                              1. re: sugartoof

                                Tks. Called Jean-Georges and I've asked them about my 'children' situation (prefer to be upfront when making the reservation than having surprises). They told me they do not allow children under age 6 in the formal dining room (JG) but okay at Nougatine. Now I am considering Del Posto ...

                                1. re: vwong042

                                  vwong042,

                                  We have not been to Del Posto, but good friends of ours whose opinions we trust have been there and came away very disappointed.

                                  I recommend that you consider Eleven Madison Park. Like J.G., it is a 4-star, the cuisine is superb, and there is a lunch deal similar to J.G.'s -- 2 courses for $28/3 for $42 + Dessert. There is no dress code. Period. Afaik, there is no age restriction for children. Hospitality is key at EMP, so I have no doubt that your children will be welcomed and well-treated.

                                  http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Tks RGR.

                                    I've decided to stick to my reservation at Nougatine, in part because of your comment and also realizing that Del Posto had lost a Michelin Star this year (not a good sign). Nougatine is also more conveniently located to the shopping areas that we plan to frequent.

                                    I've also checked out EMP as you've suggested, but all the dishes that my husband would actually like require a 'supplement' charge so his lunch alone would've ended up being $48 before tax and grads instead ... not as much of a deal at that point.

                                    1. re: vwong042

                                      You're very welcome, vwong042. I really like the food at Nougatine, and it will work out well for your children.

                                      Photos of one of our meals of Nougatine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                      Re: EMP. You haven't said when, exactly, you will be coming here, but keep in mind that the menus changes with the seasons. In fact, checking earlier today, I saw that there are already some changes, and Chef Humm will continue to roll out new dishes as the season progesses. So, keep an eye on it. Perhaps by the time you get here, the menu will have changed sufficiently so that your husband can find dishes that please him while keeping costs within the deal.

                                      ETA: Ah, I see by your post below that you will be coming here at the end of next week.

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        RGR, luv your flickr albums. Will you be able to inform me what's the dresscode of Nougatine? When I made my reservation, they only mention no sneakers. Do you know if nice jeans are acceptable? When I look at your photos, the place is nice but appears to be trendy-casual to me. Tks.

                                        -----
                                        Nougatine
                                        1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                                        1. re: vwong042

                                          Glad you like the photos, vwong042. :) I didn't pay any real attention to what people were wearing at Nougatine, but I think a nice pair of jeans would be acceptable.

                                          Btw, the weather forecast for this coming weekend is gorgeous -- sunny and in the 70's!

                                          -----
                                          Nougatine
                                          1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                              2. re: vwong042

                                I'm also debating between the two for my upcoming trip. I was hoping to go next Friday by myself while my sister's at work, but there are no available reservations for lunch that day. Does anyone know if I'll have a shot at getting a seat at either if I go around noon?

                                1. re: jessa

                                  you can ask to be put on a wait list for reservations. they may not turn up an opening until last minute, but there's a good chance you'll get in to jean george. nougatine does take walk-ins.

                                  1. re: jessa

                                    Jessa,

                                    Do you mean Friday April 2nd? I've just made a lunch reservation at Nougatine this morning for that day. However I have a feeling that table for one is harder to come by. As or JG, I am guessing that the OpenTable system does not take 1 person reservation cos I've played around it using a weekday, end of April and it's still not available. Anyone knows?

                                    1. re: vwong042

                                      That's the day! It must be the party of one that's hurting me. I'm on the waitlist at JG, but my hopes aren't too high. Maybe if I hover long enough at Nougatine, I'll get a spot? I'll be sad if I miss lunch at both places, but at least I'll have a compelling reason to to plan another trip. :-)

                                      -----
                                      Nougatine
                                      1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                                      1. re: vwong042

                                        The OpenTable system does accept reservations for a party of one. However, it's the restaurant that determines the allocation to OpenTable of the number of tables and party sizes. So, always keep in mind that OpenTable is not the final word on whether a restaurant has a reservation. A direct call to the restaurant is.

                                        With regard to Jean Georges, It appears that they do not permit OpenTable
                                        reservations for a party of one. Thus, you always have to call the restaurant directly to see if a table for one is available.

                                        Eleven Madison Park is an example of a restaurant that does allow reservations for a party of one via OpenTable. Although there are no tables for one at lunch on Friday, April 2nd, there are reservations for one on the following Monday, April 5th, at 12:45 and 1:15. And, btw, even though there is nothing on OpenTable for that Friday, if you call the restaurant directly, it's possible there might be a table because either they haven't given all their reservations to OpenTable, or there could be a cancellation.

                                        Finally, some restaurant will not permit OpenTable reservation for parties of more than four or six. Again, in those cases, you have to call the restaurant directly.

                                        1. re: RGR

                                          Has anyone been to JG for lunch recently? I'm a vegan and judging from the menu, it seems like only the warm asparagus salad would apply to my diet. Has anyone ordered this dish? Thanks.