When the name Jean George is uttered, the palate is automatically aroused while an intrigue and excitement sets in. This was the initial spark when we entered Perry Street-Jean George's 'neighborhood joint' in downtown Manhattan. The low-pitched hostes showed us to our lunch table-an almost comunal attachment to the clients adjacent, with paper placemats yet comfy chairs. The floating and serene waitress took our orders and we were greeted with buttery croissants to start. As we waited for our first course to arrive, we examined the pristine atmosphere, chatty clientele, and well dressed staff.
Crispy calamari were our other starter...extremely tender, however, a bit difficult to pierce with a fork, as the batter had hardened significantly-resulting in fried dough pieces all around. The whipped ponzu-sesame sauce was savory and a perfect dipping accompaniment for the croissant as well.
Service was quick and attentive and the semi-communal seating added to our amusement. We couldn't help overhearing a few gentlemen comment on their discontent with portion size, as they ordered more plates after finishing their entrees.
The slow cooked salmon was the biggest surprise of the lunch. Having experienced this dish at the James Beard House, as well as preparing it in the past, I was looking forward to the melt-in-your-mouth-feel of the delicate preparation. I was presented, however, with a simple baked salmon, overcooked at the edges. The accompanying asparagus and bok choy were fresh, crispy, and delicious, and the herbal chili sauce was flavorful and had a smooth consistency, however lacked the chili mentioned in its title.
Were my expectations too high? Is Perry Street a faulty representation to the JGV world? I hold my breath and anticipate a better experience in one of his alternate venues.