Chef Jean Georges Presents a Decadent Experience in the New Era of the Waldorf Astoria
By Sarah Rosenberg
For the last 100 years, the Waldorf Astoria has been New York’s home to the world’s elite. It has lodged or housed every American President since 1933, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and countless others. Now, times for the Waldorf are changing. The hotel shut down in early 2017 for a comprehensive three-year renovation after it was bought by Chinese Insurance Group, Anbang.
But its legacy is far from dormant. In the summer of 2017, the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills opened its doors for business. One celebrity namesake featured inside the new Waldorf is Jean Georges, a restaurant run by its eponymous celebrity chef. Georges has other award-winning restaurants in cities like Las Vegas, London, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo, and New York. In fact, some dishes and inspirations from each of his international restaurants can be seen at Jean Georges at the Waldorf Astoria.
On a recent Saturday evening, I got the chance to see what Jean Georges Beverly Hills is all about. A special friend and I sat down to a seven-course dinner on the Jean Georges veranda, which of course lives up to the Waldorf Astoria level of class. With its highly polished wood surfaces, white tablecloths, and art deco design, the entire restaurant evokes the feel and streamlined elegance of a luxury ocean liner. The subtle sea inspirations pop up throughout the meal as the courses are served on custom dinnerware designed in the likenesses of various seashells.
While all of the dishes were more decadent and satisfying that I anticipated, two of the courses stand out in my memory. The second course on the restaurant’s Fall Tasting Menu is glazed potatoes on a bed of tapioca, topped with golden Ossetra caviar. The potatoes practically melt in one’s mouth, leaving behind the savory pleasure of the Ossetra caviar. This highly prized caviar is cultivated during the mature phase of rare Ossetra sturgeon. The potatoes and caviar are well complemented by the texture of the savory tapioca spheres.
Dessert, the final dish of the seven decadent courses, is a perfect finish. The hibiscus apple confit with green apple sorbet is rich, but not over the top. Many fruit confits can be incredibly sweet, however Jean Georges’ apple confit is satisfyingly sweet without leaving behind a heavy feeling. Perhaps the dish’s overall lightness is due to the green apple sorbet’s gentle flavor and texture that balances the confit's richness.
The combination of the best names in taste, Jean Georges and Waldorf Astoria, is a promising sign the newest Waldorf will live up to its grand 100+ year history. When the Waldorf Astoria New York reopens in 2020, it will be interesting to see what surprises Anbang has planned for the new era of the luxury establishment.
Jean George's Fall Seven-Course Menu