Thursday, July 23, 2009

Le Bernardin

The first thing I did when we were sat down at our table was ask our waiter, "How do you pronounce the name of this restaurant?" And our very classy, French-accented waiter said "Luh-Behr-Nah-Deh" ... and I tried. And he kept telling me "The "N" is silent!" and I sounded silly.

I was very excited to try this restaurant because it is French and it is alllllll seafood! I love how on the menu the meat is "by request" only :-)

The space is quite small.... well, I guess I pictured a big space likeDaniel. The windows were covered by a thin curtain and you could see the chaos of the Midtown Manhattanites. The inside, however, was quiet and serene. Even before we ordered, one of the waiters brought us Salmon Tartare:

So.. I really wanted to eat this as soon as it came, but I felt really uneasy not know what I was going to get. You can either order the Prix Fixe, Le Bernardin Tasting Menu, or the Chef's Tasting Menu. After looking over the menu a few thousand times, my mom and I decided on Le Bernardin Tasting Menu. Why? Well, all of the dishes on the Tasting Menus are on the A La Carte menu. Therefore, we would clearly pick the menu that had more of the dishes that we wanted to try. Le Bernardin Tasting Menu had more of my favorite fishes and flavors.

After we told the waiter our decision, I happily pounced on the salmon. Yum! Fresh, just enough saltiness, and refreshing!
Then the bread guy came over with about 5 different choices. I couldn't pick one so I asked for the Rosemary Olive stick and the Raisin bread. They were just ok. The olive one was very chewy. I wanted a crusty bread.

The Feast Begins!

Very similar in presentation to the Amuse Bouche, we were presented with the Kampachi Tartare. This one was definitely much better than the salmon. It was very summery because of the heavy use of vinegar. The pickled cucumbers were not only beautiful, but also the perfect accompaniment to the plump kampachi.

Next up was the Curried Crab. This was really the decision maker for ordering this tasting menu instead of the Chef's Tasting Menu. I love "curried" food. And this one was did not disappoint. The flavor of curry was not prominent but the aroma was plentiful. And that is all that this delicate dish needed. The broth was also delicious.

Next was the Bread Crusted Snapper. This one was great! I love red snapper, and the bread was like a thin, crispy cracker with butter. This one also had a broth that the waiter poured after the dish was presented.

More crispiness with the Crispy Black Bass. This one also had a broth... notice the pattern? The fish was delicious, but I wish the skin was even CRISPIER! The highlight of this dish was definitely the Ham and Green Peppercorn sauce. Oh, and I almost forgot! They bring a little glass of Parsnip Custard. OMG this sweet, creamy custard was amazing to eat between the salty bites of fish!

For our last dish, we substituted the Bass and Langoustine for the Escolar. When making this substitution I forgot that there was already a Bass dish!! But the Bass and Langoustine was the one dish that I really wanted to try from the A La Carte Menu so I do not regret my decision. Plus, it had a curry emulsion so I had to try it :-)
The fish was topped with what the waiter said was candied ginger, but it didn't taste anything like ginger. Also on the side was a Sundried Tomato Agnolotto which was so tiny and cute and delicious! This one also had the fancy broth presentation... by this time it was getting old!

Then came the Fromage Blanc with Strawberry Coulis. OMG so good! It reminded me of thick greek yogurt and my favorite Japanese yogurt, Bulgaria.

For dessert was a Hazelnut Gianduja Mousse topped with 2 Hazelnuts, with (a slice of) Caramelized Banana and Brown Butter Ice Cream. This was good but nothing spectacular, but actually what I really wanted was this egg shell dessert that I had read about in a bunch of reviews. I had to ask the waiter for it, and it was an extra $8.00 but I had to try it!

Ok ... it was layered with Milk Chocolate Custard topped with Caramel foam, drizzled with Maple Syrup, and topped with Sea Salt... Decadent and an amazing combo of flavors! The waiter told us that we have to eat it by dipping the spoon down to the bottom and scooping it and not mix it. Perfect :-)

And to finish off our meal, Petit Fours. It was really petite... how do you make such beautiful, tiny tiny tiny desserts?!

Here's my thing. All the dishes were really delicious. The guy (chef) really knows how to prepare fish. But I wanted more variety. I felt like the majority of the meal was fish in a broth. It was getting boring towards the end! It was really impressive though how well all this fish dishes were prepared. I love fish!

Le Bernardin
155 West 51 Street
New York, N.Y. 10019
Phone: 212-554-1515


Sharon said...

Thanks for this post. I've been so curious to try Le Bernardehhhhhh due to the reviews and shows like Top Chef which have elevated Eric Ripert to God status.
You're now the second person in two weeks who has said the broth presentation got old, and while everything was technically perfect, they were left wanting a bit more. Interesting.
Still - I want the opportunity to judge for myself! I guess I have to keep saving those pennies!

Miki said...

It was definitely worth the experience!! I love fish and seafood, so to get that in every course was amazing! The dessert however was nothing special (except for the egg of course)... and I LOVE dessert so this is an important part of my rating system when dining out :-)

jensenly said...

Great post. I just finished reading Ripart's book On The Line and was fascinated by the dining experience as described by the co-author. How timely to trip over your blog and hear it from someone who's just been there! I didn't realize there was so much broth involved. The pictures of the food in the book don't really show all the sauces on the food - kind of off to the side.

Living in LA means I probably won't get to experience the restaurant anytime soon, so thanks for sharing and letting me live vicariously through you!

Miki said...

Im glad you stumbled across my blog! Hopefully you will get to come to NY in the near future to experience Bernardin because it WAS great! But don't book a flight just to come here :-) Duhhhhhh