Le Bernardin: Where Seafood is the Star
Le Bernardin is one of the premier gourmand destinations for seafood lovers. Opened by Gilbert Le Coze and his sister Maguy Le Coze as Les Moines de St. Bernardin in 1972, the brother/sister team decided to transport this culinary excellence to New York City and reopened as Le Bernardin in 1986. After the passing of Gilbert Le Coze, Eric Ripert took the reins in the kitchen and has led Le Bernardin to culinary greatness. Le Bernardin is one of six restaurants in New York City to have a 3 star Michelin rating and is currently ranked 17th on the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant list.
155 W 51st Street
New York, NY 10019
Website and Reservations
Diners have several choices when it comes to having dinner at Le Bernardin. One can choose to order off the a la carte menu which is broken down into the following classifications: almost raw, barely touched and lightly cooked. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous and hungry, might I recommend one of the renowned tasting menus: Le Bernardin or Chef's Tasting. Both provide unique experiences but the Chef's tasting seems to be more on the luxurious side. Seeing as each dish is so complex in nature, I would recommend adding the wine pairing with the tasting menu. The wines were matched perfectly and brought out varying depths of flavor in each dish. Some people prefer not to "opt-in" for the wine tasting in fear that they will be "too inebriated" to enjoy or remeber the meal. All things in moderation, right? Balance is key.
To entice our palates, Chef sent over a variety of amuse bouche to the table. I thoroughly enjoyed each bite and knew that I was in for a treat.
Our first course was Kampachi Sashimi served with a deconstructed Greek Salad. Unfamiliar with Kampachi? Don't worry, you're not the only one. Kampachi is Hawaiian yellowtail fish often found off the Kona coast of the Big Island. The fish mimics the texture of salmon but has a rich and buttery flavor. I enjoyed pairing bites of the sashimi with bites of the deconstructed salad for a bit more complex flavor.
One of the more interesting courses was our next dish, Calamari. Chef Ripert stuffed the calamari with crab and adorned the dish with dainty bits of vegetables. Such a gorgeous presentation, right? Topping off the dish, the server poured a bamboo shoot-wood ear mushroom broth. I loved the varying textures of the crab and calamari. And can we talk about the sauce? Swoon! Sheer perfection. Certainly one of my top courses of the evening.
If you have read any of my other posts by now you know I am a truffle fiend. It goes without saying that my excitement level for this dish was over the top. Featured below is the Seafood Truffle Pasta. My eyes had already rolled back in my head just looking at that gorgeous truffle shaving. As soon as the aroma hit my nose, my mouth was watering anxiously anticipating a bite. What more could one girl want? I'll tell you. Black Truffle Emulsion. I may or may not have clapped when the server poured this on top of this gorgeous nest of pasta filled with scallop, shrimp, and lobster. ( Side note: even though I was joking with the server about snagging some more of the emulsion sauce, not thinking that was even feasible, a small little pitcher arrived at the table. Once you pour a little extra on your pasta, I highly recommend soaking up some with your bread.) Words cannot express how amazing this dish was so I am not even going to try.
If the dinner ended after the last course, I wouldn't have been mad about it. The last course was literally ALL THE THINGS.
Arriving next at our table was the Snapper course. This crusted red snapper was served with pickled Persian cucumbers and green curry-goat yogurt emulsion. For someone who doesn't eat much seafood, I really enjoyed this dish. Perhaps it was the combination of all of the flavors of the fact that the crust on the snapper was just divine, I devoured every bite. Aren't the colors brilliant?
Our last savory entree of the evening was Black Bass "Surf and Turf". I was curious to explore this dish as seafood is the star of this restaurant so seeing "surf and turf" on the menu caught my eye. The crispy black bass and braised veal cheek were served with a parsnip emulsion as well as a ginger-five spice reduction. Being the carnivore that I am, I just assumed that I would enjoy the veal cheek much more than that bass, however, I was proven wrong. Both exhibited outstanding flavor. A lovely way to end our savory portion of dinner.
Astonished. The word that comes to mind when I reflect back on the experience thus far. I enjoyed each of the courses and that's a bold statement when tackling a tasting menu. Usually, there are one or two courses that are a little on the "meh" side, but not the case with Le Bernardin. I was eager to see what the chef had up his sleeve when it came to the desserts!
Our first dessert out of the kitchen was Yogurt-Citrus, not the most imaginative name but we will go with it. The dish was comprised of candied Buddha's hand, scorched cheesecake, and yogurt sorbet. Such an intriguing combination of ingredients. I've seen Buddha's hands at Whole Foods on several occasions and wondered what sort of concoction I could use them in but I've never been brave enough to pull the trigger. This dish was refreshing and light and the citrus flavors of the Buddha's hands permeated throughout. Despite the simple name, this dessert was imaginative and flavorful.
Our last dessert of the evening was a whimsical twist on a common campfire favorite, the s'more. This Banana S'more was served with warm chocolate cake, smoked meringue and coquito sauce. Out of this world. There is no way that this photo or my brief narrative could ever do it justice. Of course, anything with chocolate steals my heart. While this dish is included in the Chef's tasting menu, you can most certainly order it a la carte, which I would recommend. Total game changer, if you ask me!
Le Bernardin exceeded all of my expectations. For someone who's not so keen on seafood, it's never tasted so amazing. Eric Ripert takes the basic fish and transforms it into a dish with endless possibilities. Without a doubt, Le Bernardin is a must if you are in New York City.
As I marked yet another three Michelin star and World's 50 best restaurant off my list, I couldn't help but smile. My heart was completely full. Often times I take for granted the little things: the ability to travel, my health, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying epic dining experiences. The list is truly endless. I'm not sure if it was the food and wine or perhaps the company, but it really allowed me to reflect.
Curious as to the wine paired with this deliciousness? I wouldn't leave you hanging. See below. Listed in order to match the courses above.
Godello, Valdeorras Sobre Lias, Bodegas Valdesil, Galicia, Spain 2014
Robert Moncuit, Blanc de Blanc, Extra Brut, France NV
Riesling, Bremmer Calmont, Weingut Reinhold Franzen, Mosel, Germany 2015
Dassai 39, Junmai Daiginjo Sake
Cabernet Savignon, Domaine Eden, Satan Cruz Mountains, California 2013
Tokaji, "Cuvée IIona, Királyudvar, Hungary 2009
Château La Rame, Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont, Bordeaux, France 2005
Tariff: Chef's Tasting Menu-$220.00/person or $360.00/person with the wine pairing; Le Bernardin Tasting Menu- $180.00/person or $270.00/person with the wine pairing. A la carte prices vary.
Can't Miss: Seafood Truffle Pasta and Snapper
Potential Pass: There's not one dish that I would pass over on this tasting menu. Speaks volumes!
Until Next Time!