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Another Disappointing Experience at Nougatine

Cheeryvisage Aug 14, 2011 08:41 AM

Is service at Nougatine at Jean Georges just bad, period?! Had another dinner there last night and once again, I was let down by the service.

My first dining experience there was a month ago. After being seated at our table and got ignored for a good 15-20 minutes. I finally caught the eye of a member of the service staff from across the room and mouthed that I wanted the menu. He nodded at me and another couple of minutes later, our server finally deemed us ready to bask in his glorious presence.

Then, a week ago, even a Michelin inspector complained about the service at Nougatine. And Jean-Georges himself responded! And promised to look into it. http://twitter.com/#!/jeangeorges/sta...

Well, whatever JGV did, nothing sure seemed to have changed. Last night, I went to Nougatine. Everything progressed relatively smoothly for the first half of the meal. I was starting to think maybe service had improved after all, until I got ready to order dessert. I was handed the dessert menu and after a good 15-20 minutes, no one, absolutely no one, came to take my order.

I watched as mobs of the service staff roamed the floor. One or two servers just stood there in the middle of the room, glancing around. I was astounded that no one thought to at least check on my table. Gee, the diner at table 58 seemed to have finished looking at the dessert menu. Hmm, she looks bored, maybe I should go over and ask her how everything is. Maybe take her order. Or find her server. Nooooooo, even though I caught the eye of a server twice, another eternity passed before someone decided that I was finally worthy to get my dessert order taken.

The entree I ordered wasn’t even that great to make up for the lousy service (Salt and Pepper Maine Lobster, lots of lobster meat, but merely adequate taste-wise). Not even the delicious chocolate cake was enough to redeem the experience. At least when I dined a month ago, the food was phenomenal and I was with good company, so I was willing to be forgiving. But last night, being ignored while dining alone? Absolutely horrid.

And, it aggravates me that I have been considering going to the formal Jean Georges Dining Room for my anniversary or birthday that are coming up in a couple of months. The sorry service at the Nougatine hardly endears the adjacent formal dining room to me.

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Nougatine
1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1. p
    PopMegaphone RE: Cheeryvisage Aug 14, 2011 02:45 PM

    I was in Jean Georges main dining room last night (just flew back to Chicago today). The food was great, but I felt the service and ambiance was sub par judging from my experiences at similar restaurants. There were little things like having to ask to have my water refiled after waiting 5 min with an empty glass, having my chair pushed in for me while being seated so hard my glass tipped over and spilled, the uninterested hostesses, and weirdly small scallop I received which was about the size of a thick nickle. Generally there was too much hustle and bussle from the servers etc in the dining area which kind of made the whole experience a little less relaxing/special than it should have been. One other thing is they seriously need to update and expand the restrooms. I was surprised to see people waiting to use it.

    That said, I would still recommend Jean Georges. The food is fantastic and at 98 dollars for 4 courses (plus amuses, petit fours, etc) I think it represents a pretty good fine dining "value". My disappointments with Jean Georges are rather petty compared to the positives.

    For a comparison, my other 4 stared restaurant this week was at Daniel. l felt the overall experience was much more consistent, although the food was slightly less interesting and the price point was higher. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd go with Jean Georges unless I was looking for special/romantic experience where I wanted everything to be perfect.

    In conclusion, I apologize for rambling on about Jean Georges when your thread is about Nougatine. :)

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

    Nougatine
    1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

    11 Replies
    1. re: PopMegaphone
      Cheeryvisage RE: PopMegaphone Aug 14, 2011 04:44 PM

      Oh no, your post is very helpful! I do agree that Jean Georges is good value and thank you for telling me about your experience with their service. And maybe I'm right to suspect that the formal dining room has the potential to have service issue as well if the adjacent casual one has so far proved disappointing. (And perhaps this is the case too for the rest of the JGV empire? Is service simply not emphasized?)

      I'm definitely taking note of your advice about not choosing Jean Georges for special occasions. Thanks again.

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

      1. re: Cheeryvisage
        r
        RGR RE: Cheeryvisage Aug 14, 2011 05:36 PM

        We've been to Nougatine twice and did not experience any service issues. However, both times date back to 2009, so based on what happened to you, it does sound as though things have deteriorated in that department.

        We've been to Jean Georges only once for dinner several years ago. In fact, it was our first time there. It was for a special occasion, and service was impressively faultless. Two other times following were for lunch, the more recent being spring of last year -- so actually not very recent. Service both times was excellent. Obviously, PopMegaphone's service last night was anything but. Totally unacceptable for a restaurant of Jean Georges' caliber.

        We just had a late supper last week at ABC Kitchen, and service was fine. So, what is happening at Nougatine and the flagship is a mystery to me.

        In any case. given your experience at Nougatine and Pop's at Jean Georges, I think you are wise to hesitate booking J.G. for a special occasion (though I would certainly recommend trying it at some point). With other wonderful restaurants to choose from where service is reliable, there's no need to take chances.

        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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

        Nougatine
        1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

        ABC Kitchen
        35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: RGR
          Cheeryvisage RE: RGR Aug 14, 2011 06:35 PM

          Thanks, RGR. Good to know about ABC Kitchen.

          Still, don't think it's wise of JGV to let service deteriorate at the restaurant right next to the flagship. But at least, I've had generally good experiences with the actual food. I understand Nougatine and Jean Georges share the same kitchen / kitchen staff?

          1. re: Cheeryvisage
            r
            RGR RE: Cheeryvisage Aug 14, 2011 07:22 PM

            Actually, not the same kitchen. Jean Georges' kitchen is at the rear of Nougatine, while the food for Nougatine is prepared in a kitchen in the basement, which also provides the food for the hotel's room service.

            While for us, the quality of the cuisine is always paramount, there is no doubt that service problems can put a real damper on the experience.

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

            1. re: RGR
              Cheeryvisage RE: RGR Aug 14, 2011 07:42 PM

              Oh, I see! I saw the open kitchen at Nougatine and assumed it was a shared kitchen. I didn't pay enough attention to note where the dishes came from.

        2. re: Cheeryvisage
          p
          PopMegaphone RE: Cheeryvisage Aug 14, 2011 08:00 PM

          Just to be clear I don't think JG is a bad place for a special occasion, quite the opposite. I just think Daniel would be better because the room is spectacular and service was flawless. I also think the food is a little more accessible too which can matter if you're taking someone who isn't adventurous.

          Sometimes on these message boards issues can be blown out of proportion and I hope that doesn't happen with my JG post. Who knows, perhaps it was an off night or multiple people called in sick. When I researched JG on chowhound I don't remember seeing any service issues, other than perhaps they are a little stuffy, which is more of a style preference. That said, I hope this isn't a larger trend for JG.

          1. re: Cheeryvisage
            r
            rrems RE: Cheeryvisage Aug 14, 2011 08:49 PM

            Not that I feel there is anything seriously wrong with J-G, but for the same price I would choose the Modern. I just find the food, presentation and service to be a notch above.

            1. re: rrems
              h
              H Manning RE: rrems Aug 15, 2011 11:33 AM

              I have the opposite opinion. For the price of The Modern, I'd much rather go to JG, which in my experience has consistently better food and servce. For lunch, JG offers a much better value.

              1. re: rrems
                c
                City Kid RE: rrems Aug 15, 2011 12:29 PM

                I love the warm, friendly vibe at The Modern, especially the Bar Room. I have found J-G a bit stuffy and was not thrilled with the food, though I have only had lunch there. I prefer Nougatine, actually.

                1. re: rrems
                  p
                  PopMegaphone RE: rrems Aug 15, 2011 05:26 PM

                  As a tourist there was no way I was going to pick The Modern over JG. I couldn't ignore the history and the accolades. :)

                  That said, I went to The Modern Bar for lunch after touring NoMA. I enjoyed it and I would go back.

                  1. re: rrems
                    Cheeryvisage RE: rrems Aug 17, 2011 08:00 PM

                    We were just at The Modern last night. Really enjoyed our dinner there.

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                    The Modern
                    9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

              2. pizzajunkie RE: Cheeryvisage Aug 15, 2011 10:32 AM

                Love the food pics! I had often wondered about the differences between JG and Nougatine, as I've only been to JG for lunch a few times and dinner once. I've eaten lunch at JG by myself as well. I don't recall any problems with service. When I asked (at lunch last year) whether the pastry chef was in (loved seeing him on TC Just Desserts), the server rushed off and sent him right up to our table, and we chatted with him for a few minutes and even posed for a pic with him! And we are NOT high rollers by any means. I thought it was very cool of them.

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                Nougatine
                1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                1. b
                  Blumie RE: Cheeryvisage Aug 15, 2011 12:31 PM

                  I have lunched at Nougatine twice in the last month, and service was excellent both times.

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                  Nougatine
                  1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                  1. Cheeryvisage RE: Cheeryvisage Oct 16, 2011 07:59 AM

                    I want to give an update on this thread. Since my original post, I had returned to Nougatine once and also lunched at Jean Georges.

                    On my third visit to Nougatine, my server Shah couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. He was fantastic and appeared precisely when I needed him. I'm not sure if this means the service had improved at Nougatine overall, or there were simply disparities among the servers. However, I had absolutely no complaints of my third dinner there.

                    My lunch at Jean Georges was great. The service level at the formal restaurant was higher and extremely attentive. The synchronicity of the staff as they brought and presented every dish to each table was a pleasure to watch. The moment the water level in my glass dipped below halfway level, someone would appear to refill it. Every table was watched closely to ensure each diner's needs were met. Kudos to the service team at JG.

                    Photos of my lunch at JG can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi...

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

                    Nougatine
                    1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

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