Wednesday, April 27, 2011

JG Domestic

I went to Garces' JG Domestic for the first time for dinner on a Tuesday night. The restaurant is in the Cira Centre, sitting beneath crisscrossing escalators and tall windows, adjoining 30th Street Station. The decor is all crates and checkered cloth and fake chalkboards--which clashes almost spectacularly with the gleaming chrome of the skyscraper that houses it. I'm not sure whether this was the right choice. Why not embrace the modernity of the space, instead of trying to insert rustic ambiance where it jars? There's something hokey and forced about it. And despite attempts to make the restaurant feel small and cozy, this is a losing battle. The soaring ceilings, the sunlight pouring in: it's inherently airy and open, and I'd say it'd be near impossible to change that short of major architectural alterations.

I ordered the Maine Lobster Cappuccino and the Jidori Chicken. I also tried the asparagus with quail egg. I love lobster bisque, and the idea of vanilla emulsion with it fascinated me. It arrived in a steaming mug, a thick layer of foam on top. Floating in the soup were hunks of lobster and a couple of butternut squash dumplings. Taking a bite was a confusing experience as my tastebuds kept expecting it to taste like coffee. The soup was thinner, closer, actually, to the consistency of cappuccino. Add to that the sensation of foam on the tongue and the mild sweetness of the vanilla, and it was like eating a seafood latte, which sounds disconcerting, but is actually pleasantly strange. The dumplings were rich but a little too heavy. I don't know if they're necessary; the lobster pieces would have been sufficient. Although it was an interesting twist, the soup was already a new perspective on the classic. Adding dumplings was less putting it over the top and more overdoing it. The chicken, served with baby carrots, fingerling potatoes, and cipollini, was delicious and well worth the price. It's a lot of food; comparatively, the portion of the lamb loin was paltry. The chicken was submerged in a thick, homey-smelling sauce. The carrots were packed with flavor, the meat juicy, the potatoes golden. Upscale comfort food at its finest. Of course, I can't not mention the amazing, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth rolls, which came to the table warm and buttery. I didn't get a chance to try the desserts, sadly. It was a good meal, but apart from the lobster bisque (which was more gimmicky than truly sensational), not really a memorable one.

JG Domestic
2929 Arch St
Philadelphia PA 19104

1 comment:

  1. Well said - everything about this restaurant was a huge disappointment to me, most notably the setting.



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