155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 2/27/15
Le Bernardin is one of the legendary fine dining restaurants in New York City. Originally opened in 1986, the restaurant has stayed at the forefront of NYC dining up through this day. Currently helmed by famed chef Eric Ripert (Executive Chef since 1994), the restaurant has be given a full 4 stars by the New York Times, 3 Michelin stars, and ranks #21 in the World’s Best Restaurants, 2014 list. Few restaurants have received more acclaim than Le Bernardin. I wasn’t sure if/when I’d be able to try the restaurant, but was excited to dine here on this most recent trip to NYC.
A four-course a la carte menu is offered for $140, while the Le Bernardin Tasting Menu offers seven courses for $170 and Chef’s Tasting Menu with eight courses for $205. We opted for the Chef’s Tasting Menu for the ‘full experience,’ although this would be my dad’s second time having it.
A cocktail, as well as bread service, began the evening.
51st St. Manhattan michter’s rye, dolin dry vermouth, amaro nonino, benedictine, angostura bitters, brandied cherry
AMUSE BOUCHE sashimi, oyster, mushroom soup
Both the sashimi and oyster showed off clean flavors, while the mushroom soup was a boost of warm earthiness. We really needed something hot to warm up given the below-freezing temperatures outside.
BAY SCALLOP-SEA URCHIN Nantucket Bay Scallops; Marinated Granny Smith, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
The scallops were pristine with a great spongy texture and plenty of natural sweetness. The uni was a nice touch, adding extra richness and bold sea flavor. We started very strong.
KING FISH-CAVIAR Warm King Fish “Sashimi”; Osetra Caviar, Light Marinière Broth
I knew I’d love this dish and it didn’t disappoint. Tender fish was bathed in the buttery sauce with bright salinity from the caviar. Great depth and nicely balanced.
LANGOUSTINE Sautéed Langoustine; Truffle and Chanterelle, Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette
Langoustine was lightly seared but still raw, leaving its natural sweetness and springy texture. Plenty of truffle flavor completed this haute surf-and-turf.
LOBSTER Lobster “Lasagna”; Celeriac, Truffle Butter
Loved the intricacy of this next plate featuring thin layers of fresh pasta and lobster with a rich black truffle butter sauce on top.
MONKFISH Pan Roasted Monkfish; Sautéed Cepes, Pearl Onions à la Crème, Lemon-Paprika Sauce
Monkfish was cooked perfectly, leaving it quite tender and moist. Mushrooms and marinated pearl onions provided earthy and bright flavors while the lemon-paprika sauce added the depth. To me, this wasn’t as interesting as the preceding dishes, but still tasty.
WHITE TUNA-KOBE BEEF Grilled Escolar and Seared Wagyu Beef; Fresh Kimchi, Asian Pear, Soy-Lemon Emulsion
Speaking of surf-and-turf, this was described as Ripert’s take on it. Tuna was cooked perfectly with a nice smoky flavor from the grill. Wagyu beef was rich/fatty as expected with a lingering sweetness from the Korean marinade. My kind of surf-and-turf.
PEAR Roasted Bosc Pear; Pear William-Olive Oil Emulsion, Vanilla Parfait
We delved into the sweet side of the meal with this refreshing dessert. The vanilla parfait was brightened by plenty of pear flavor.
MAPLE Maple Candy Cap Crémeux, Maple, Huckleberry Confit
Whereas the pre-dessert was light and refreshing, this main dessert was deep and rich. Candy cap mushroom cremeux was earthy, deepened by maple and offset by tart huckleberry flavors.
MIGNARDISES earl grey chocolate bonbon, gingerbread macaron, blood orange pâte de fruit, muscovado financier
The food at Le Bernardin was exceptional, probably the best of this NYC trip and some of the best food I’ve had in some time. The ingredients, particularly the seafood, were pristine and clearly of really high quality. Execution was top-notch, ensuring the seafood remained the star throughout the meal.
Service was polished and efficient but almost seemed cold – it didn’t connect with the customer. We felt hurried during the latter few courses with the staff presumably getting ready for the subsequent seating. Looking at time stamps of the images, savory courses came out at 15-minute intervals while the three desserts came out in half that interval. Bottom line – if I’m dining on the Chef’s Tasting Menu at a restaurant like Le Bernardin, I don’t want to feel hurried. However, the food was excellent.