Le Bernardin Review

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.

Cauliflower Soup
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*

Sourdough Crisps
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.

Petit Fours
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. :thinking:

Le Bernardin
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019


give marea a try

NOW you tell me! :rage: :joy:

I thought Marea was just ok, not 2* level maybe 1*. Anyone else think Michelin stars in NYC are inflated?

I think Michelin stars in the USA are generally inflated, from coast to coast. That’s not to say that none are deserving of their accolades, but rather that there are some that otherwise would not have been ranked nearly as high but for a slew of issues that are too hard to articulate here. I think that while the popular influence of Michelin is at an all-time high or just off the zenith, Michelin’s longstanding credibility and reputation in the food world is now progressively waning due to their uneven standards. There are 3* that are in my opinion 1*, there are many, many 1* that I believe are not even that close to 1*, and somewhere in between, some of the rankings are justified. That’s been my experience in recent years.


As I was reading this, it looked and sounded better than you felt about it. I wonder if perhaps you shouldn’t have meals like this back to back. Jaded palate perhaps.

Didn’t have that problem with TFL/Quince back to back or Californios/Benu/Manresa back to back to back. Le Bernardin is in no way a bad meal but it pales in comparison to CT and any other 3 *** meal I had.

My dining companion who liked n/naka better said the same thing.

Read the same thing about HK but Andy Hayler, for whatever it’s worth, seems to think that NYC’s 3 star ratings are justified though.

Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on Andy Hayler’s reviews?

If you’ve hit the top of the top, I wonder if you’ll have even more slight disappointments. Maybe you’ll have to broaden your horizons.

Michelin is stuck in the 90s. The only people who get two or three stars are Thomas Keller cover bands.

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That’s interesting. This is not the first time I’ve seen this happen. The year WD-50 closed, one of my friends went to NYC and did both WD-50 and Le Bernardin on consecutive nights. She wanted to love Le Bernardin, but walked away feeling that WD-50 wowed her more.

Just a false statement. I’m interested to hear how you think Sushi Ginza Onodera (2*) or Masa (3*) are somehow “Thomas Keller cover bands.” You know that they serve sushi, the former serves it in Edomae style, and that’s a form of cuisine that obviously predates Thomas Keller or any of his restaurants? Jungsik, Smyth, Californios - Keller “cover bands?” Really? There are a lot of differences among the food, the approach, the restaurants, the chefs, etc. at many of these restaurants, that to say that they’re all somehow imitating Keller is myopic to the point of it being trollish.

I do think that Michelin is shortsighted and overall predictable in the types of restaurants it likes to award, but let’s not get carried away…

I know you’re somewhat joking, but I think these kinds of statements do a disservice to many of these restaurants, and I’m curious how many of these you’ve actually tried.


I’m not familiar with his reviews. I did a quick Google search. He obviously dines out a lot and has more experience than most, including me by a longshot. I think it’s hard to understand at a very high level so many cuisines around the world - I’d have a very difficult time giving a numerical score to restaurants, especially after just 1 visit. There are ingredients, techniques, traditions, etc. that I’m sure would not only be new to me, but also very difficult to measure on some objective numerical scale. Maybe he has that expert taste and in-depth knowledge of many cuisines that he can do so, I don’t know. On a brief viewing of his website, I’m struck by the difficulty of that endeavor.


Sorry, I forgot about Michelin’s exception for sushi.

I don’t need to hear a cover band when I don’t like the original.

Other countries do get Michelin stars too. Stateside wise, do you see Benu and a host of other SF restaurants as a TK cover band?

I’m saying that a good deal of these restaurants are sufficiently different from TFL and Per Se that they cannot be accurately called a “cover band.”

Different enough that if you were to dine at them you can perceive that right away. My meals at Saison and Californios are completely different than my meals at TFL and Per Se. That is to say, TFL and Per Se cannot accurately be seen as the “original,” such that others on the list are not “covers.” You’ll be served dishes at Saison, Jungsik, Smyth, etc that you would never be served at Keller’s restaurants.

I, too, am not a fan of TFL or Per Se but there are others on that list of 2-3* that I love.

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Yes. Boring, unimaginative, unoriginal, pandering to rich gastrotourists.

Joshua Skenes is the first chef I’ve heard talk about getting out of that rut.

Agree to disagree especially in regards to Benu and Californios. How are they remotely similar to TFL other than the fact that both do a tasting menu?

They all serve a long series of fussy canapés instead of dinner.

It was original when Thomas Keller did it 20 years ago but Michelin (at least in the US) is full of shit for not giving two or three stars to any restaurant that does anything else except sushi.

My last meal at Saison was about 7 courses, not 20+.

I was served a barbecued fish head eaten with hands.

I was served grilled antelope in harissa butter and cabbages in kirsch verjus and biscuits on the side.

Not all canapés.

Furthermore, if this is the grounds for calling all others a “cover band,” then I think you’ve chosen extremely narrow grounds on which you’re drawing a comparison and making a sweeping conclusion.

Non fussy, non canapé fish dish at CTBF. Composed, not superfluous or precious. Halibut with spring vegetables.

Non fussy, non canapé at Jungsik. Sea urchin and seaweed rice, reminiscent of kimbap
Non fussy, non canapé at Saison. Antelope grilled over the hearth.

Non fussy, non canapé at Saison. Bbq fish head.


TK wasn’t the OG, as far as I know, in serving small portions in a series of courses. He merely brought it over from Europe. Michelin, however, does tend to favor such restaurants but then these restaurants are also the ones consistently using quality ingredients and banging out thoughtful and consistently good to superb dishes course after course.