Jean-Georges Vongerichten: you knew this would happen eventually. It’s a tiny little eatery, but I defy anyone not to feel hungry after checking out the cooking. Get yourself in the first 10 minutes of your visit and you’re in with a right royal shot. In two different dishes on the tureen, the rich rabbit pâté with pea shoots and dill from the menu’s first course, is much better than anything I’ve had this side of Russia. Then, somehow, they manage to coax the uninspired duck into the middle of it all in what is actually one of the dish’s best moments. Layers of celery are a nod to the British menu in that they are strictly inedible at the moment and all I have is a sore mouth from trying to eat the top layers with a bread knife. The duck cheeks are there too, sprinkled with sawmill-made sweetbreads and seared with chestnuts. In the second course, a dry whole flounder arrives in a clear champagne bath and the dish is almost recognisable as Jean-Georges’s work. The crust remains crisp, the crème fraîche is thick and the accompaniments musky. I feel as though I’m having a plate of cheesy risotto, in all honesty.
Jean-Georges offers everything from an $18 breakfast (£10.50 including free-range eggs) to dinner menu, and I’m glad he has for this evening’s feast was to begin with the light and briny puree of squab, served with bacon and rouille. There’s also the much better Isobel’s chicken breast with red wine sauce (both £16), sweetbreads (both £21) and a forkful of gargantuan scallops (both £28). The caviar and branzino were brought to the table in a shell and thoroughly enjoyed. Clothier outclasses, as always, the kitchen and the space feels lovingly handmade: it’s a real treat. Jean-Georges (who is linked to the new Domino Pizzeria at the Corte Madera outpost) sold the place just a few weeks ago, but it’s not hard to imagine it will soon be back in his hands.
• 112 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, +1 718 424 4013, franciebbq.com. Dinner for two with wine and service from £110
James’s restaurant reviews for the Guardian