I love seafood. Therefore, when I booked my flight to New York, the famous seafood specialist, Le Bernardin, immediately sprung to mind. After all, you can’t go wrong with Anthony Bourdain’s (RIP) 3 *** buddy Eric Ripert right?
One look at Resy and Le Bernardin’s website, I knew I had little chance of securing a reservation at decent time slot. Immediately, I turned to the infamous American Express Platinum Concierge for help knowing that they have a partnership with the restaurant. So reservation came simple enough and I believe I got my confirmation before the official desired date even opened up! Hassle free!
Ambiance and Service:
Le Bernardin is very traditional with the classic fine-dining atmosphere. Think TFL. Guests are required to wear their jacket the entire time even when they’re sitting down. I made the mistake of taking off my jacket and a captain(?) immediately came over and politely informed me that a jacket is required the whole time unless I’m at the lounge. Service was efficient and a bit impersonal. However, our server Ricky loosened up midway through our meal and joked around with us quite a bit. Our water glasses were never empty and plates were quickly taken away when we were finished with our dish.
This place is dim. VERY dim. I had a difficult time taking decent pictures so my pictures are crap. Maybe it’s time for me to get a new camera?
Chef’s Tasting Menu:
Amuse Bouche x 5
Crab Spring Roll
Salty and couldn’t taste the crab.
Tuna Tartare wrapped with Phyllo
Classic dish in one bite. Textbook.
Salmon & Ponzu
Another good bite.
Velvety. Smooth. Buttery. Cauliflowery. Great.
Roasted Lobster, Fennel
Decent bite. Not much going on.
Bread Service by Maison Kayser
Sundried Tomato, Poppy Seed, Walnut, Baugette, Pumpernicke, and two more which escaped me
Cold. Dense. Bland. These were probably the sorriest bunch I’ve had at a 3 *** restaurant. They’re average or slightly above average at best.
Sake, Manzairaku, Junmai Ginjo, Hakusan City, Japan NV*
These thin crisps go with our first course for texture contrasts.
Hamachi-Osetra Caviar Tartare; Sea Lettuce, Dashi Gelée
Good. Savory and refreshing. Tiny dices of cucumber mixed in with the hamachi contributed to the lightness of the dish while minced ginger added a kick here and there. Dashi added smokiness while the caviar flavored the entire dish.
Riesling, Scharzhofberg, Von Hövel, Mosel, Germany 2016
Seared Langoustine; Foie Gras Crouton, Balsamic-Truffle Vinaigrette
Good. Snappy. Sweet. Earthy. Savory. The foie crouton sitting at the bottom of the langoustine added heft and texture change to the dish.
“Os Pasas,” Luis Anxo Rodriguez Vazquez, Ribeiro, Spain 2015
Forgot to take a picture of the wine in the glass…
Most courses were sauced tableside.
Ultra-Rare Smoked Sea Trout; Pickled Red Onion, Citrus-Miso Emulsion
Fantastic! Smokey. Incredibly Flaky. Fresh. Tangy. Savory. So much going on! This was what I was expecting dish after dish. Unfortunately, this was one of two savory dish that reached CT’s height from the prior night.
Krug “Grande Cuvée” Brut Champagne NV
Forgot to take a picture of the wine in the glass again…in my defense, it’s probably already past 12AM LA time.
Sautéed Dover Sole; Lemon-Potato Mousseline, Shallot Emulsion
Good. Meaty. Firm. Buttery. Dover Sole is probably the meatiest and firmest fish I’ve ever had. To counter the heft, a light sauce and the incredibly light lemon-potato mousseline, probably dispensed by a CO2 canister, did the job well.
Rosso di Montalcino, Biondi-Santi, Tuscany, Italy 2004
Nope. No picture of any of the following wine in a glass either. I must’ve given up. My friend in the background probably did too.
Yummy sauce alert!
Pan Roasted Monkfish; Squid Ink Fideos, Chorizo Emulsion
Great! Meaty fish. Flavorful angel hair. Sauce was silky and a pure umami bomb with tons of depth which flavored the perfectly cooked monkfish nicely.
La Dame de Montrose, Saint Estéphe, Bordeaux 2011
Creamy White Corn Polenta
Good. This herbaceous polenta was buttery and incredibly creamy. Red wine-gumbo sauce gave it another dimension.
Lobster Two Way; Red Wine-Gumbo Sauce
Good. We got a perfectly poached lobster claw on a mystery sauce and a perfectly baked lobster tail on a mild savory red wine-gumbo sauce. Not much else going on.
Poiré Granit, Eric Bordelet, Normandy, France 2016
Smoked Yogurt, Maple-Macerated Blueberries, Graham Crackers
Amazing! The individual components are quite one-noted, but when combined, this turned into the best dessert of the trip. The balance between smokiness, sweetness, creaminess, tartness, and saltiness was incredible! Wow!
Beerenauslese, Alois Kracher, Neusiedlersee, Austria 2016
Rhubarb Marmalade, Mascarpone Crémeux, Limoncello Sorbet
Great with various textures. Sitting on top of a rhubarb sauce, a solid yet spongy ball of mascarpone cremeux (maybe nitrogen was used?) needs to be broken to release a light cream and a rhubarb marmalade. All that sweetness is tempered by a tangy limoncello sorbet. Yum!
Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Cake
Another hit! Various layers of complementing flavors with hazelnut filling, choclate ice cream, cake, and a graham crackers(?) crusted bottom gave this the perfect texture and classic flavors.
Milk Chocolate Pots de Creme Egg, Caramel Foam, Maple Syrup, Maldon Sea Salt
Great! Light. Great balance between salty and sweet. Each bite gave me varying balance of salty sweet but still worked very well.
Don’t remember what they were but they ranged from good to great.
I had high expectations for Le Bernardin but despite a good meal, it fell short of greatness. Fireworks were far and few between. Perhaps my meal at the CT the prior night was too great and hence pushed this solid meal down the totem pole? Although many savory courses here didn’t quite scale to the CT’s height, the desserts here at Le Bernardin were fantastic and easily matched or surpassed what I had at CT. Maybe this will be a better meal if Sergio’s in the house?
My friend who we dined with also thought that this meal was good but not great, unlike her recent meal at n/naka. I should probably give n/naka another try given my underwhelming meal (a lot more so than this one) I had there years ago.
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019