Eating at Le Bernardin has been a goal for some time. After eating at the French Laundry, we felt the need to compare our experience against another Michelin 3-star rated restaurant. People have said that the French Laundry is the best in the country, but does that mean other 3-star establishments are inferior? It seemed unlikely, but it may be the case that we waited too long to try Le Bernardin.
Le Bernardin has gone though some changes in decor recently. Most notably, they opened up the dining room such that connects with the bar. While this is likely to provide a more inviting space to get a drink, we found it distracting. It might have been the plan to make the restaurant more lively and modern looking, but it seemed incongruous with the formal brigade-style service.
The dining room is (when looking from the bar end to the back) a very pleasant environment to dine. Rich, yet understated, it offers a generous amount of space between tables and is never loud. But while the room is very nice, we found that the staff never really went away. The servers maintain their quarter and are very attentive because the are right there. Right there.
We arrived early, 5:15 with the intention of getting in the Chef’s tasting menu before catching a show. We were assured that they could do it. At 7:30 we were out the door and walking to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. The pacing of the meal was spot on. Apparently this was not their first rodeo.
Le Bernardin is known for seafood, and we’ve got to say, it is fantastic. Not that they are the most inventive; although, they take from a variety of European and Asian cuisines. Simply, each course is perfectly cooked. The consistency is really what they are all about. Fish is difficult to cook and they can do seven courses in less than two hours and each one is perfect.
The wine pairings were also really good. Le Bernardin has an extensive wine list and it was clear that they had put some thought into each course. We were surprised by several parings, which is exactly why we let them pick the wine.
We took some pictures, but as frequently is the case, we starting eating before deciding to do so. Here is our meal:
CAVIAR – TARTARE
Leaping Waters Beef, Langoustine and Osetra Caviar Tartare Black Pepper-Vodka, Crème Fraîche, Pomme Gaufrette
Dom Pérignon – Moët & Chandon 2000
Warm Lobster “Carpaccio”; Ruby Red Grapefruit and Heart of Palm,Verjus Sabayon
Vouvray Sec, Domaine Huet ‘Le Haut Lieu’, Loire, France 2010
Charred Octopus “a la plancha”; Green Olive and Black Garlic Emulsion, Sundried Tomato Sauce Vierge
Albarino, Trico, Rias Baixas, Spain 2009
Shellfish Medley; Yuzu Scented Custard, Smoked Bonito Broth
Yuki no Bosha, Yamahai Jumai, Akita
“Ultra-Rare” Arctic Char; Truffled Peas and Favas, Butter Lettuce-Tarragon Emulsion
Sauvignon Blanc, Floreado, Cantina Andrian, Alto Adige 2010
Roasted Monkfish; Wilted Mustard Greens-Daikon “Sandwich”, Adobo Sauce
Pinot Noir, Duijn ‘Jannin’, Baden, Germany 2008
Lychee Gelée, Rose Emulsion, Raspberry Sorbet
Côteaux de Layon, Chaume, Château, Soucherie, Loire 2007
Madagascan Chocolate Ganache, Peanut Mousse, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Château La Rame-Reserve, Saint Croix du Mont 2001