I hit a milestone this year. No, it’s not my 48th birthday. It’s that I’ve now visited every one of the city’s four-star restaurants at least once. Of the five restaurants currently holding that distinction, Le Bernardin is the one to which I’m most eager to return.
It’s not that Le Bernardin is the best of the bunch—though it very well may be—but that it’s the most versatile. I loved my meals at Per Se and Masa, but both are crazily expensive, and their long tasting menus don’t change much. Daniel and Jean Georges are both excellent, but neither one impressed me quite as much as Le Bernardin. On top of that, there are enough menu options to dine frequently at Le Bernardin without repeating anything. Based on the sustained quality of the Chef’s Tasting Menu we had, it appears you can’t go wrong here. If I could afford it, we’d be here once a month.
Le Bernardin is the oldest of New York’s top-rated restaurants, having won four stars from Bryan Miller of the Times in March 1986, when it was less than three months old. It was a near-clone of a Paris restaurant run by chef Gilbert Le Coze and his sister, Maguy, who watched over the front-of-house. They closed their Paris restaurant in December 1986 to focus on New York full-time. Bryan Miller awarded four stars yet again in February 1989. (In those days, the Times re-reviewed major restaurants far more quickly than it does today.)
Gilbert Le Coze died in July 1994 of a sudden heart attack. He was only 49, but a youngster named Eric Ripert, then 29, had already been in charge of the kitchen for over three years. Times critic Ruth Reichl took another look in April 1995, finding Le Bernardin still worthy of four stars. The paper’s most recent review came from Frank Bruni in March 2005. You guessed it: four stars.
How has Le Bernardin remained on top of its game for more than two decades? Few restaurants in its class would have survived the death of the original chef, and most seem to rest on their laurels after a while. Even fans of Jean Georges admit that the menu has hardly changed in ten years. But Vongerichten now leads a worldwide empire of almost twenty restaurants. Eric Ripert has taken on the occasional consulting gig, but Le Bernardin has his nearly undivided attention.
And he is still innovating. As Bruni noted, “Asian accents are scattered throughout a menu that bears scant resemblance to the one in 1995.” In a recent Feedbag post, Ripert noted that the staff have meetings every week to try new recipes, and “Maybe one in three dishes makes it onto Le Bernardin’s menu—if that.” Grub Street published a list of the maître d’s 129 Cardinal Sins for Waiters, an admirable opus that every new employee at Le Bernardin must study, and that ought to be mandatory reading at most other restaurants.
The atmosphere is lovely, but it certainly isn’t as romantic or as picturesque as the city’s other four-star restaurants. Frank Bruni exaggerated when he compared the dining room to “a first-class airport lounge.” I wonder what airports Bruni’s been visiting; I’ve never seen one like this. But the space certainly lacks the serenity of other restaurants in its class. On the Le Bernardin website, the background sound is the hubbub of diners chattering—accurate enough, but an odd choice. (I don’t like restaurant websites with a sound track anyway, but if you’re going to have one, why that?)
The format here is a four-course prix fixe at $109, nearly all seafood. The savory courses are in three groups: Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked, with about a dozen choices for each. There’s also, “upon request,” squab, lamb, Kobe beef ($150 supp.) or pasta. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would come here for the steak, but Ripert told Grub Street that he sells 50 orders of it a night—an astonishing total at a seafood restaurant.
There are two tasting menus: seven courses for $135 or eight more luxurious ones for $185. As it was my birthday, we had the latter, along with wine pairings for an additional $140 per person. The wines were certainly very good, but in terms of real value you could probably do better by the bottle or half-bottle.
The amuse-bouche (left) was a mushroom soup of startling clarity, with hunks of succulent lobster at the bottom of the cup. The bread service was excellent, with several house-made varieties.
The first course was a remarkable thinly-pounded salmon carpaccio with a dollop of caviar tucked inside, all perched on a wafer-thin toasted brioche (above left). You don’t get much closer to perfection.
Seared Japanese blue fin tuna (said to be the world’s first of the species that’s “sustainably raised”) was beautifully balanced with parmesan crisp, sun-dried tomato, and black olive oil (above right).
The fireworks continued as the kitchen somehow managed to fill sautéed calamari with sweet prawns and shiitake mushrooms (above left). Lobster was paired with asparagus a hollandaise-like sauce (above right). As an aside, this was one of the few dishes that prominently featured a vegetable. Most of Ripert’s dishes put vegetables, if he uses them at all, far into the background.
The closest thing to a letdown was the Escolar, or white tuna, poached in extra virgin olive oil with sea beans and potato crisps (above left). It had a flat, bland taste. But crispy black bass (above right) was excellent, as was the surprisingly good parsnip custard that came with it (below left). Who knew parsnips could be so good?
Each dessert seems to revolve around a simple idea, beautifully executed. I loved the roasted fig with goat cheese parfait, hazelnut, red wine caramel, and bacon ice cream (above right).
A chocolate ganache (above left) brought approving nods from across the table, but I’m not fond of chocolate, so I asked for a substitute. They gave me a choice of anything on the dessert menu, and I chose the carrot cake (above right), which I’d be happy to have any day. You can’t read it in the photo, but that’s “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate in front of the tiny cake (below left). We concluded with the usual petits-fours (below right).
Service was first-rate: If any of the maître d’s cardinal sins was violated, we didn’t notice it. There are more romantic settings in New York, but everything on the plate was extraordinary.
The First Meal of 2017- Le Bernardin
I firmly believe that the first restaurant choice in January can set the stage for the entire year ahead. So this year I decided to pick somewhere classic, a NYC staple that's big and bold yet stood the test of time with quiet elegance. A place I've talked about trying for years but never quite had the opportunity. Well if 2016 taught me anything it's that life is short and can change in an instant; so if there's something you really want to do go out and do it.
So reservation-less I walked into Le Bernardin Monday afternoon and with a completely full house they somehow found a table for me inside that stunning dining room.
To begin an amuse-bouche of vegetables. A simple but lovely plate of carrot, cauliflower, mushroom and pea pods dotted by a black truffle sauce.
The bread tray followed with a dazzling selection of eight different varieties including classic baguette, pumpernickel, quinoa, raisin and walnut, mulit-grain, pretzel roll and a soft, springy focaccia studded with olives.
Often I'm disappointed by the butter at fine dining establishments, so many places frugally go for a low fat content or serve it entirely too cold to enjoy. The Le Bernardin butter however was excellent; lightly salted, thick and creamy served room temperature inside a delicate silver capped dish.
I chose the Seafood Pasta for my first course. Gorgeous strands of Tagliatelle loaded with scallop, crab and lobster then tossed with a creamy black truffle emulsion and shavings of black truffle on top. I've heard people order two, even three of these dishes in one sitting and I can certainly see why. The sauce was so wonderfully rich, the black truffle infusing a deep umami flavor into each softly poached piece of seafood.
Crusted Red Snapper with pickled Persian Cucumbers, green curry goat sauce and yogurt emulsion for the second course. An amazing crisp golden crust on top that retained all the fish's moisture and balanced the spicy creamy sauce with a hint of cilantro.
For dessert a Banana S'more with a rich chocolate cake in the middle oozing with warm chocolate fudge, caramelized banana slices, smoked meringue and coquito sauce. This picture does not do this dessert justice- it was incredible. I'm obsessed with anything containing bananas and chocolate but the addition of delicious coquito sauce just put this over the edge. To finish an espresso and a spongy Chocolate Raspberry Financier.
Wow- Le Bernardin met my each and every expectation. The food was exquisite, the service impeccable; I had forgotten how much I miss the table-side pours of sauce that occur at classic French restaurants. It was an incredible lunch and the perfect way to kick off 2017. Here's to lots more wonderful meals ahead!
With all the press and notoriety LB gets I expected it to be stuffy and staff to be a little arrogant. It was not the case. Everyone was welcoming, charming, friendly and gasp, casual. Finally made it after getting stuck in the midst of Radio City Music Hall traffic. Nightmare. Make sure to leave ample travel time.
Sat somewhere around the middle of the room in the mid height booth (which was surprisingly comfortable). They immediately changed out the gorgeous signature plates (why do they do that? I hate when restaurants do that. I want to eat on the nice plates damn it!) We chose our wine and the prix fixed menu.
The amuse bouche was a trio of salmon, sea urchin and truffle soup. Our table had the octopus, butter lobster and black bass. Compared to Eleven Madison and Per Se, the portions here are bigger and there are no "surprise" supplements to your meal. It's pretty straight forward. You get what you order. End of story.
That said and with the exception of my black bass, everything was absolutely delicious. The octopus and lobster were decadent and worthy or a couple of Meg Ryan moans.
The black bass? Well, It.was.just.fish. Cooked to perfection? yes. But, just fish. Nothing exciting about it. Nothing to dream about. Certainly no moans there. It's too bad because the portion was pretty hefty and I hated leaving so much of it. My girlfriend's dover sole though was worthy of it's own Broadway show...amazing!
I felt the serving style at this height of dining was also a little off. Dishes were served by one, maybe two people (versus one per person). Sauces and dressings were poured for some and others were left waiting for theirs for a bit. The sommelier even almost poured wine from a new bottle unto my unfinished glass from the first bottle thus mixing the two. Splitting hairs perhaps but I guess it's what you do when comparing apples to apples (or is that truffles to truffles? hmmm)
Before our dessert I ordered a cheese tasting of four. Our waiter came by with the selections (about 9 of them or so?). I would write down what they were but he never did give me that card with the written names I requested. Again, splitting hairs. They were all OK with only one standout. They were served without any honey, fig or specialty bread or crackers. Odd. Just cheese.
Dessert was outstanding (and I am a big dessert snob). I had the Madagascan chocolate with peanut mousse & salted caramel ice cream. Our friends had the banana one which was also great. We also got a small plate with petit fours with our coffees.
To summarize, a couple of service complaints and a bland black bass but everything else was top notch. I would love to give it another try next time I am in New York and compare.
It was just an excellent experience. I love seafood. The restaurant brings the best out of the ingredients, and the sauce never prevents the taste of great fish. I heard they are particular about the fish itself.
I chose Hamachi(Yellowtail), Octopus, and Lobster. Hamachi was very fresh, and octopus was very tender and tasty. My favorite was Lobster. It was really simple but I loved the texture and flavor, and it was the best Lobster foods I ever had. It was amazing.
This is one of the famous dishes at lebernardinny Pan Roasted #Langoustine #FoieGras Soubise, Aged Sherry-Verjus Vinaigrette #
KING FISH-CAVIAR Warm King Fish #Sashimi Osetra Caviar, Light Marinire Broth lebernardinny Chef EricRipert
Just because One more pic #KINGFISH #CAVIAR
I hope chef is keeping this dish as their #BucketDish forever cuz a lot a lot a lot Scallop #Sashimi with #SeaUrchin porn
Ultimate fav One of the signature dishes lebernardinny #Tuna layers of thinly pounded , and toasted baguette, , extra virgin olive oil
Main course squab stuffed with truffles on cabbage with truffle sauce and one sauce poured in lovers
Seafood pasta with lobster, truffles and butter sauce with truffles Le Bernardin NYC
Geoduck with ginger ponzu sauce Le Bernardin NYC
I ordered the complete 4-course dinner menu.
First they serve you with an amuse bouche to whet your appetite. There were 3 things. My favorite was the one on the extreme right which was shiny and soft like mochi but thinner skinned and soupy inside when you bite into it.
My first course was the geoduck with slightly tart sauce. It was a generous portion and I was happy with that. I believe it was not cooked like sashimi.
My 2nd course was the seafood pasta cooked aldente with lobster meat and other seafood with truffle sauce and garnished with freshly shaved black truffles.
My main course which was squab came in deboned and served like a filet mignion with black truffle stuffing. That's the black line you see in the center. They suggested that I order it Medium Rare. This was served over truffled cabbage.
The dessert was a round mango mousse-like delicate dessert on a thin tart-like base, mango sauce and crispy mango flavored thin praline. I don't even know if that is what its called but that is how I can best describe it. I think the sauce had some coconut milk in it.
At the end, they served me miniature macaron, jelly candy, chocolate and another piece of sweets and I asked to be paced to go and savor it later in the evening like my night cap.
This is my type of food as well! I wouldn't mind having this everyday!
Flash-marinated Hamachi with crispy rice and gochujang sake vinaigrette at Le Bernardin (lebernardinny). This dish was delicate and beautiful -- l love the Korean inspiration! It's so wonderful to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary at the place where it all began.
Interior of LeBernardinNY private event foyer area. This restaurant is a 3* Michelin rated establishment since 2005 specializing in seafood. Just landed from Amsterdam and it's a must-not-miss dinner with spg Time to get excited for dinner!
My Old Fashioned cocktail to start out the cocktail hour LeBernardinNY spg
Flash Marinated Hamachi on Crisped Rice, Gochujang Sake Vinaigrette LeBernardinNY spg Incredibly silky hamachi and the subtle spiciness of the marinade on the crispy rice cracker made all of this delectable.
Super honored to meet ericripert! Never met such a kind, humble, mellow person in the longest time LeBernardinNY spg
An almost nonexistent thing to have Eric Ripert ericripert and his Executive Chef Eric Gestel doing a demo on making the tuna carpaccio dish in front of all of us. LeBernardinNY spg
Langoustine, foie gras, pickled hon shimeji mushroom, seafood broth LeBernardinNY spg Oh, I would eat a huge bucket of this stuff! Everything is so delicious and the broth in intensely flavored of seafood.
Poached Halibut; Manila Clams, Wild Mushroom Casserole LeBernardinNY spg Though not stated on the menu description, the fresh morels (it's really early for it but it's fantastic) made this dish superb
Seafood Truffle Pasta - Crab, Scallop, Lobster; Tagliatelle, Black Truffle Emulsion LeBernardinNY spg Smell-o-vision app is required here. This dish is incredibly fragrant and one can't help keep inhaling the addictive aroma of fresh shaved truffles
Tuna Carpaccio, Iberico Ham Chutney, Sea Beans, Lemon-Extra Virgin Olive Oil LeBernardinNY spg
Pouring the Cabernet Sauvignon, Domaine Eden, Santa Cruz Mountains, California 2012 to pair with the Black Bass "Surf & Turf" LeBernardinNY Each course is paired with wine spg
Black Bass "Surf & Turf" - Crispy Black Bass and Braised Veal Cheek; Parsnip Emulsion, Ginger-Five Spice Reduction LeBernardinNY spg
In honor of National Pasta Day, a throwback to my favorite pasta dish of 2015 so far (and who would have thought it'd come from Le Bernardin!)..... LOBSTER- lobster "lasagna", celeriac, truffle butter, shaved black truffles gals #NoLeftovers
"Langoustine-Sea Urchin" - An absolutely stunning langoustine "carpaccio" topped with sea urchin roe and an Aki nori and apple vinaigrette.
"Seafood Truffle Pasta" - House tagliatelle with crab, scallop, lobster, black truffle emulsion as the sauce, and shaved black truffles.
Salmon: barely cooked organic salmon with pea pure and a yuzu butter sauce poured tableside
Tomato fennel roll and baguette
Blueberry: marinated "golden" blueberries with a frozen sweet corn meringue covering blueberry sorbet and sweet corn pure. The blueberry jus is poured tableside
Although I began celebrating my birthday at San Francisco's Gary Danko last week, I had to spend my actual birthday at one of my favorite restaurants in NYC today. I love their City Harvest menu, which donates $5 to the organization. I am also excited to volunteer at the Food Bank later today. Happy 28th to me! (Pictured: Ultra Rare Seared Yellowfin Tuna, with Spiced Herb Salad and Citrus-Soy-Ginger dressing.)
Hindistan cevizi, yuzu soslu sorbet ve clementine mandalinas - Le Bernardin, New York/ABD -- Dondurmadan farkl olarak iinde st ya da krema bulunmayan; yalnzca su, eker ve meyve suyu/presi ile hazrlanan sorbet, zellikle de fine-dining restoranlarn tadm mensnde ana yemeklerin ardndan servis edilmekte. Buradaki ama, farkl lezzetler ile yorulan dama ntrlemek ve onu az sonra gelecek olan tatllara hazrlamak. Deniz rnleri konusunda New York'un belki de en iyisi olan #LeBernardin'de yetenekli ef ericripert'in tadm mens de fotoraftaki sorbet ile azda ufak bir mola veriyor. Bizi dnyada temsil eden Trk eflerden sevgili sayat_ozyilmaz'n da parma olan mendeki sunum hindistan cevizi ile yuzu soslu sorbet'nin yannda, turun ve mandalina aprazlamas sonucu elde edilen, normalden biraz daha ufak, kokulu, ekerli, bol sulu mandalinasndan hazrlanan buz paracklaryla olduka keyifli bir lezzet. Ayn tr bizde de Antalya ve evresinde yetitiriliyor. smi ise ufak bir deiim geirmi, -- Coconut and yuzu sorbet with clementine mandarin snows served after a series of delicious seafoods from the Chef ericripert's tasting menu at Le Bernardin, New York/USA -- y
NYC FOODIE QUICK BITE: LE BERNARDIN
Dreams do come true. I had been dreaming about dining at Le Bernardin for years, and that dream came to fruition on Martin Luther King Day, when a foodie friend of mine wanted a fabulous lunch. I chose Eric Ripert's 4-star restaurant, and it lived up to expectations.
This is 4-star dining at its best, from sleek service, to fabulous seafood fare, you won't be disappointed. The $70 3-course lunch is not cheap, but you get what you pay for.
Every table gets a bowl of salmon salad with toasted points, and it is one excellent salmon salad.
My appetizer of layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna with foie gras, toasted baguette, shaved chives, and extra virgin olive oil was exquisite and great. I will say that I did not taste any foie gras in the dish, it seemed to be lacking, nonetheless, I still enjoyed this dish immensely.
Sautéed calamari filled with sweet prawns and shitake mushrooms, with a mushroom froth-pistou sauce was unique, perfectly executed, and wonderful. I had never encountered calamari prepared like this.
My hiramasa entree, seared yellowtail king fish, with truffle risotto, Spring vegetables, and a black truffle emulsion was out of this world! Definitely one of the best fish dishes I had ever consumed, quite possibly the best. The truffle emulsion was truly orgasmic, and the fish was like butter, melting away in my mouth. I almost teared after each bite. I loved this dish!
A pre-dessert of an egg shell with chocolate was fabulous. A complimentary shell of joy.
Desserts at Le Bernardin are top notch as well. Hazelnut; Gianduja cream, Oregon hazelnuts, honey, banana, and brown butter ice cream was fabulous. Chocolate-Peanut; dark chocolate, peanut and caramel tart, Meyer lemon puree, peanut powder, and praline-citrus sorbet was really good too.
So for 4-star dining at its best, Le Bernardin is a true winner. Go for lunch, or go for dinner, and let the cooking of Eric Ripert transport you to a seafood world, yet undiscovered.
A famous French restaurant with Micheline Stars serves very sophisticated dishes. Everything is made with artistic sense and enjoys customers. However i didn't have any dish that amazed me so much.
Great food for a little bit more than you would usually spend.
I myself am a person who is comfortable spending between 10-25 dollars for a meal. So this establishment was a little more than I am use to spending. The service was good and the food was great just as you would expect. I would recommend this to all my family and friends. Instead of taking my word for it you can go in for yourself.
smoked salmon "croque monsieur" w gruyere & golden osetra caviar. quite possibly the most decadent sandwich I've ever had. what an incredible meal w gastronami! thank you girl for treating to me to this amazing experience. so fun to meet chef Eric Gestal & sous chef Rich! caviar covergrams latergram
king crab medley over a warm matsutake mushroom custard in a seaweed shiitake broth at lebernardinny. holy wow. I wanted to lick the bowl clean. cannot thank gastronami enough for inviting me to this amazing meal! crab mushroom covergrams latergram
Le Bernadin is an acclaimed Michelin-starred French restaurant in New York City's Midtown West. It's a formal dining experience that many people say is a perfect spot for a dream date or a special occasion. The food is modern French with a chef who specializes in seafood. Dishes diners enjoyed include scallops with brown butter dashi, langoustine with black truffle shavings, crispy black bass, and their version of surf & turf with bone marrow and sea urchin. Overall, the impression of the food was that it was imaginative, memorable, and very fresh. Most diners find the portion sizes perfect, although a few felt they were a bit small. Chef Eric Ripert has a featured tasting menu and there is also a prix fixe menu for lunch.
The restaurant is the utmost in formal dining and requires men to wear jackets, although ties are optional. Most people find the ambiance as decadent as the food, although a couple people mentioned it felt a little unwelcoming. Most diners enjoyed the hushed, intimate atmosphere and felt it enhanced the V.I.P.-style experience.
Almost all visitors found the service at Le Bernadin impeccable with an attentive, knowledgeable wait staff, who will hold your chair and cover your plate to keep it warm if you step away from the table. If you need help with wine, there is a sommelier on hand to guide you. However, it is very difficult to get a reservation, so make sure you plan your visit to Le Bernadin far in advance.