Market by Jean-Georges

Earlier on today, I had a couple of meetings downtown and arranged to meet up with “Godfather” for a civilized lunch.  We decided on Market by Jean-Georges [1128 West Georgia Street, Level 3, Vancouver, (604) 695-1115] at the Shangri-La hotel. 

We had lunch there during the summer, so I’ll combine some of the observations from that meal as well.  Last year, the lunch prix fixe started out at $25/three course, then $27, then $29  and slowly it has crept up to $31.  It’s still a decent value, though I’m not sure how you justify significant price increases, without significant changes to the menu.  

 The first thing you notice when you walk in the restaurant is the slick, modern yet classic decor of the restaurant.  I love the way the restaurant looks and am very fond of this room.   Both times I have dined there, I have sat at the same table.  Not sure why?  I love the color palette and really am a big fan of the different textures and patterns in the room.  It really strikes a chord with my inner interior decorator. 

Black truffle and fontina cheese pizza

“Godfather” and I ordered rather quickly and after some small talk, a few sips of bubbly water and a couple of bites of bread and butter, our starters arrived.  I ordered the black truffle and fontina pizza and “Godfather” ordered the black pepper crab fritters.   The pizza was tasty, crisp, well seasoned and enjoyable, though not nearly as truffly as I remembered.  I actually worked for Jean-Georges back in the day and once had this same pizza with heaps of shaved perigord truffle on it, as the dish was being developed for the first Market in Paris.  The crab fritters were very tasty, though I mentioned to “Godfather” that I believe black pepper overwhelms the delicate nature of crab.  The crab fritters themselves were crispy, moist and hot in the middle and perfectly seasoned.  “Godfather” made an observation in regards to the “Ray Charles’ chives” on top of the “machete chop” Asian pear and endive salad.  Don’t worry, it’s an inside joke.   Previously, I tried the tuna tartare as well as the scallop appetizer.  I almost never order tuna tartare; it’s so 90’s, overdone and borderline passe.  When I had it during the summer, I found it to be outstanding.  The flavors were excellent and the dish was very successful.  The scallop appetizer was also very good and very familiar.  Having made a very similar dish, hundreds of times, almost 10 years ago, I was pleased to see and taste the familiarity. 

For our mains, I ordered the red snapper with a seed and nut crust and a sweet and sour broth and Godfather order the soy glazed short rib with apple jalapeno puree.  The fish was cooked really well.  The crust was crispy, the flesh was hot and moist.  The broth on the other hand, though not offensive in any way, was a disappointment.  It was neither sweet or sour and since I was extremely appreciative and familiar with this sauce, I was disappointed with the morphed version I tasted.  The short rib dish was slightly disappointing as well.  The portion was rather small, the flavor was excellent, but the meat was stringy and lacked unctiousness.  The apple jalapeno puree lacked taste and heat, but the rosemary bread crumbs were a tasty counterpoint.  Previously, we tried the parmesan crusted chicken as well as the hanger steak with soy caramel sauce.  The chicken was superb and the steak was decent. The main disappointment with the steak, was the sauce and gingered mushrooms.  Again, having cooked those components so many times, I felt short-changed, knowing what the final product should have been. 

For dessert, we had the chocolate pudding and the green apple crisp.  The pudding was very nice, though I prefer our chocolate pudding dessert at Tapenade much more.  Chubby’s Snack Pack Deluxe is much more playful, has a lot more textural contrast, the flavor profile is more intense, though not nearly as elegant.  The green apple crisp was satisfactory, though not special in any way.  Previously, we also tried a trio of sorbets, which were a touch saddening since they were all on the icy side.

Issues and concerns; the service started to fade toward the end of our meal as they were a little bit in the juice and rather busy.  Also, as much as I love my trips down memory lane, it’s odd to see dishes from 10 years ago still on today’s menu.  I’m shocked that the menu has not changed since our last visit and that more local and seasonal products aren’t being featured.  I know Jean-Georges is in the process  of opening a new restaurant in Manhattan focussing on the farm to table, local, seasonal, organic theme; it’d be nice to see more of that here.  I realize that I am more than a touch biased, having cooked and tasted these items so many times in the past, but overall, I have really enjoy my lunches at Market.  I don’t think I will be going for dinner any time soon, but I will continue to return for lunch, when in the neighbourhood and in the mood for a tasty civilized lunch.

On my chef’s night out scale, Market by Jean-Georges receives 3.5/5  SOB(slices of bacon).

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