Originally, my friend Polka King had tipped me off about Market by Jean-Georges in the new Shangri-La Hotel. He had the inside track because his company was involved with the construction and operation of the new hotel. He even got to eat at Market at the pre-launch. He raved about the food and encouraged me to try it out when it opened. Well, it has taken me this long to actually dine there. Maybe it's because I ignore Polka King since he does go on an on about things. Whatever the case, I made a reservation for dinner for 5:30pm. Whoa, why eat so early? Well, if you want good pictures, you need good lighting; thus, earlier meant better pictures. One downfall for arriving so early is that there are very few options for parking other than the parkades in downtown. I used to work in downtown and unless you got the early bird rate or the evening rate, you'd be looking approximately $2.50 per 1/2 hour. Well, leave it to Viv for figuring out a way to save some money. The evening rate started at 6:00pm and only cost $5.00. So she bought 1/2 hour to cover 5:30-6:00 and then got me to go back out to buy the evening rate ticket for $5.00 right at 6:00pm. This saved us one-half of the cost; but it concerned our server when I abruptly left our meal at 6:00. He probably thought I was skipping the bill!
Before I left to pay for parking, we had already enjoyed one course of the tasting menu. I had my eye on that for quite awhile and figured it would be the best way to get a feel for Market. I believe for $68.00 each, the tasting menu is actually quite reasonable considering the dishes and the venue. You'll have to excuse the shadows and light from the pictures because I got more than I wished for when I requested a window seat in my reservation. There was a bit too much light! Anyways, we started off with the Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna with a Citrus-Sriracha Emulsion. Cooked perfectly, the soft tuna was contrasted by the crunchy cracker coating which was well-seasoned. Bringing balance to the dish was the tangy and spicy emulsion which did not overpower the delicate tuna. It was a light and delicious start to the meal. Good thing because the next dish was pure decadence. The Foie Gras Brulee with Balsamic Marinated Strawberries was a pure joy to eat. Another excellent study of texture contrasts was exhibited by the crisp crouton underneath the generous portion of foie gras, topped off with a crunchy brulee. The tart and slightly sour strawberries perfectly brought balance to the richness of the foie gras.
Arriving at consistent intervals, the third dish was the Crispy Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Avocado and Passion Mustard. The impressively large shrimp were beautifully executed exhibiting the perfect "crunch". Bringing plenty of salt to the dish was the crispy bacon. The saltiness was offset by the tart and sweetness of the passionfruit mustard. Other than being a texture contrast, we felt the avocado didn't really add too much to the dish. After finishing the shrimp, the wait for the Roasted Red Snapper with Sesame Vinaigrette, Radishes and Ginger, took quite a long time. We could only surmise that maybe the restaurant got busy? Good food takes time? Anyways, the snapper was moist and flaky. It was topped off with sea asparagus, fresh ginger slivers, sliced radish, lavender and tulip bulbs (?). Combined with the sesame vinaigrette, there were a multitude of flavours at work in the dish. However, none of the flavours happen to overwhelm one another.
After another extremely long wait, we were presented with our meat dishes. Since Viv isn't a big fan of lamb, we asked if her dish could be substituted with something else. The kitchen obliged and changed her lamb chop to the Soy Glazed Short Ribs with Julienned Green Apple and Rosemary Crumbs. Despite being fork tender, the short ribs were extremely salty. Even the tart green apple wasn't strong enough to cut the saltiness of the meat. Unless we were mistakened, the side of crumbs tasted more like sage than rosemary. Being that I absolutely love lamb, I stuck with the Barbecue Lamb Chop with Potato Puree, Spring Peas and Mint. The Frenched lamb chop was cooked perfectly medium rare as I requested. However, I personally didn't enjoy the barbecue sauce that accompanied the lamb. It was a bit tart and had the "Kraft" barbecue sauce aftertaste. If the sauce was a bit more rich or smoky, it would have added more depth. With that being said, the side of potato puree and spring peas were enjoyable.
Finishing off the meal was the Butter Cookie with Raspberry Coulis, Coconut Cream and Fresh Raspberries. An extremely simple dessert; yet very pleasant. Despite the heavy butter cookie, the dessert was light due in part to the coulis and fresh raspberries. It was a nice touch to put the cookie on top, so it did not moisten from the wet ingredients. Overall, a very enjoyable meal which seemed well-planned and executed. The service was top notch (attentive, friendly and professional), contrary to other reviews I've read. Only complaint would be the slow expedition of dishes at the end of the meal. Otherwise, I have no reservations in dining at Market again.
- Attentive, knowledgeable and professional wait staff
- Majority of dishes had great balance
- Comfortable dining space
- Expedition of food was a bit slow at times
- A bit nit-picking, but the rolls were a bit hard