Don’t Judge a Restaurant by it’s Owner

At first, I was hesitant to get sucked into a place which carries the reputation of having a well-known Chef/Restaurateur.  So you could understand why I wasn’t so pleased or let’s rephrase that, enthusiastic, to eat lunch at Mercer Kitchen.

The name Jean-Georges bears a lot of weight in the culinary world but being a cynical native New Yorker, I was skeptical about how good his places actually were.  Setting the bar low and throwing aside any expectations of greatness, we traveled to SoHo to enjoy what I was thinking would be an ordinary lunch.

Owning numerous restaurants across the world, 9 in NYC and 15 in total can without a doubt reduce the level of quality being produced in the kitchen.  At first I was confident the food was so exceptional since my hopes were so low.  Then I had the opportunity to rifle my way through a few other restaurants in the Jean-Georges arsenal, each individually stepped up to the plate and delighted me.

Pictured above (iphone picture) – Salmon with Crispy Sushi Rice, Chiptole Mayo and Ponzu

There was so much flavor in the butternut squash soup, one thing they added that I would have never thought to do were trumpet mushrooms.  (note, I actually didn’t order this, Lisa did but we have a mutual agreement on sharing, as all friends should).  I honestly could never achieve this level of flavor making a butternut squash soup at home, even if I add some brandy.

Downstairs at The Mercer, it was nothing I expected and yet so much more.

The next few pictures were taken in Spice Market: (above) peekytoe crab dumplings, then chicken samosas served with a cilantro yogurt sauce.

Crispy pork belly

Black Pepper Shrimp with dried pineapple – which was surprisingly amazing.

Short Ribs that were crusted with onion and chili and served over noodles.  Another dish that wasn’t really mine but I had the pleasure of tasting.  They literally fell apart as you tried to grab a bite with the fork.

Ginger fried rice served with an egg on top.  When researching Spice Market, this is listed as a must have and it is!!!

ABC Kitchen was the hardest to get to, every time a lunch date was set, we would try to secure a table there and it took forever to accomplish this mission.  I failed at taking pictures of the inside but it was my favorite.  Rustic antique-like furniture creates the perfect backdrop for the farm to table cuisine.

Tuna sashimi with ginger and mint

Short rib over broccoli rabe and mashed potatoes.

Favorites:

  • Ginger Fried Rice – Spice Market
  • Sea Bass – Mercer Kitchen

The one item I ate at all three restaurants that I was not a fan of was the pork belly, the pork was so crispy to the point where it was almost inedible, I could barely chew it.  Maybe it was a bad day, I dunno but I don’t think I will try it again.

Having been to Mercer Kitchen, Spice Market and ABC Kitchen, I still have lots to indulge and I eagerly await the day.  What will be next? Perry St, JoJo or maybe, just maybe, The Mark!

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