For Rory’s birthday, I treated him to the prix-fixe lunch at Jean-Georges’ more casual cafe, Nougatine, next door to its big sister in Trump Tower. When I say more casual, I am speaking strictly of the decor which is very gray, very silver, very chic, not the food, which is exquisite. Part of the fun is watching the chefs scurry around in a vast kitchen that serves both restaurants. Mine should only be this clean.I started with shrimp salad the likes of which I have never tasted. This is not your usual rubberized shrimp and just look at those greens.Rory had an old favorite, calamari, translated into a new higher sphere.We continued with the second course of the $38 three-course lunch. I don’t love fish but I’m trying to love it. This I loved. Striped bass with veggies, truly sweet.Rory had fresh pasta with a spicy red sauce (“Jean-Georges likes chilies,” we were told) that he adored.I ended with a much-loved chocolate fondu, perfectly executedand Rory with the red dessert–raspberries, blackberry sorbet and little bullets of peanut butter and jelly.Warning: the wines by the glass are a bit high but if this is a big splurge for an occasion–well, so be it.
You may be wondering what the name of Juilliard is doing in this post. It is there because after lunch we headed over to Paul Hall to hear four young pianists compete in the Piano Finals. These were all accomplished artists and the winner, a known quantity by the ripe old age of 9, and by now already a concertizing super-star. He is Colton Peltier, who looks like a lanky young Van Cliburn, and plays like the wind,and whose concert with the Juilliard Orchestra we will go to in March. But they were all great and….this concert was free as so many at Juilliard are. Now, it is true that each pianist played the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto; Rory heard it four times; I gave out after three, but after all, it is the Rach 3 (“a monster,” said John Gielgud in Shine), and that may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But there are solo recitals, orchestra concerts, and of course dance, drama and opera; often with the next generation of gifted artists but also with seasoned performers as well, including Juilliard faculty. Sometimes you will have to pay as much as $30/pp—compare with other stuff around town. So get you over to the box office on 66 Street between Amsterdam and Broadway and collect some tickets. As I have said before, this is one of the best deals in town. Don’t miss it.