Update: Jean-Georges at Four Seasons is now closed
When brands go to global, it’s not always a good thing, especially when it comes to fine dining restaurants. More often than not, the entire concept, which brought them their success in the first place, gets diluted and toothless in order to please their new, international clientele.
Regarding Dubai, opening a branch down here sometimes seems more like an act of desperation. Like a last deep sigh before they give up, lose their Michelin stars and become mainstream has-beens. At least that’s how it used to be. Recent years have seen a number of openings bringing fine dining of international caliber to the city without sacrificing too much of their heart and soul.
One of the very new, very promising places is Jean-Georges at Four Seasons in Jumeirah, and one Friday last month, Poul and I decided to go there for dinner. The restaurant in Dubai is divided into two sections: The casual, café-style JG Kitchen and the more upscale Jean-Georges Dining Room, where Poul and I had a reservation. The prix fixe menu consists of 3 dishes and dessert and costs 540 AED.
WHAT I LOVED:
The sea urchin on sourdough bread. The sea urchin came all the way from Japan, but the taste was fresh and crisp. The bitter aftertaste, which some people (including Poul) really don’t like, was toned down with the tangy, very delicious, yuzu marinade.
The crab and squash blossom tempura: Cherry tomatoes and raspberry vinegar with crab might not sound like the most intuitive combo, but it was delicious.
The Australian wagyu: I didn’t like that it was just called “wagyu” in the menu, because to me, wagyu refers to Japanese wagyu and nothing else. Australian wagyu can be nice, but it’s just not Japanese wagyu, and I often end up disappointed. Poul and I were in doubt whether to order it or not, but as we were both craving steak, we decided to go for it. Poul had his steak medium and while it was very tender and juicy, it was just a good steak, nothing more and nothing less. My steak, on the other hand, was cooked rare and very, very delicious. If I hadn’t known it wasn’t Japanese wagyu, I’m not sure I would have noticed. Best Australian wagyu I’ve ever had.
The Apple Caramel Financier: The second best dessert I’ve had this year (the best was the Milk & Honey at NoMad) and it wasn’t even my dessert, but Poul’s (ha ha). The red and green apple sorbet provided a refreshing, sour sting to counterbalance the sweet, moist financier and the taste of it was like a boost of everything I love about fall in New York.
WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE:
The onion ring: The wagyu steak was served with a fried onion ring on top. Poul and I still haven’t figured out what it was doing there.
The warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream: It was tasty, but it felt like one of those desserts most restaurants nowadays make to perfection (together with banana splits and panna cotta). I would have expected more from a place like Jean-Georges. In comparison with the apple caramel financier it came out way too ordinary.
Overall, it was a wonderful meal, and the young, energetic staff members were outstanding and knowledgeable. In Dubai people usually dine out late, especially on Friday nights, and when Poul and I arrived at 8pm, we were the only guests in the restaurants. At certain other places in the city, this would have meant the staff circling around you as vultures around a dead body, but at Jean-Georges, they handled the Only-Guests-In-The-Restaurant situation great and we never felt monitored or interrupted.
It might sound like a minor detail, but to me, it’s a make or break. I don’t want staff treating me like a descending god, when I’m dining out. I want friendly service from highly trained people, who know their worth, and this is what we had at Jean-Georges. I haven’t been to Jean-Georges in New York City yet, but it’s on my list, and after my visit to the Dubai branch, I’m even more eager to try out the 3 Michelin-starred (2015) real deal.