New York is loved for its extremes. Winter is for battling the snow and blizzards, summer is for finding a cool niche in Central Park. This year, spring also wants to make its mark in the streets... and in terms of gastronomy.
Let's forget about 21 March, New York was covered in snow and completely missed out on the start of the season. But what a comeback it's made!
It could be said that everything started on 11 April. On that day, Eleven Madison Park, without a doubt one of New York's best restaurants, made a rather unique decision. Its Swiss chef Daniel Humm decided to change the dishes on his tasting menu, choosing precisely this date to present his 11 best creations developed over the last 11 years. In short, contemporary gastronomic history is in the process of being written.
A little farther away, less than five metres from Central Park, Mark Lapico, the Canadian executive chef at Jean-Georges, is clearly also a keen observer of spring's nature. The harmony of colours for his red snapper, which is fished only along the western coasts of the Atlantic or in Canada, with its pastels of radishes and green of the watercress vinaigrette, is a model of sublimity for both the eyes and the mouth.
Supplementing the green spectrum, his bass with a crunchy oatmeal biscuit and lime sauce is a pure marvel of the balance between a fish of subtle flavours and the touch of acidity that brings them out. And finally, there are the flowers, of which there are many, like those that give each bite of white asparagus a different taste.
Incidentally, everything at Jean-Georges has an understated quality, starting with this decor that is neither ostentatious nor bourgeois and unsurprisingly bears the signature of a refined architect of Danish origin, Thomas Juul-Hansen. He offers his client a nearly blank page on which the restaurant may pose its dishes and better capitalize on their forms and colours.
The service is in concert with the decor, where speaking is not for saying nothing and even less for making declamations. The focus is on the essentials for the guests: the quality of attention, attentiveness, and tasting, all the way up to the slicing of a marshmallow into mignardese that only a North American restaurant could imagine serving.
And this year, it seems as if the entire city has put in a double effort in terms of spring flowers. Of course there is Central Park, but there are also multiple small spaces of land around trees where each square centimetre has been exploited. A walk through the West Village finds itself greatly changed, as does a break on the multiple terraces of Bryant Park. Spring is definitely going to be good in the Big Apple.