Le Bernardin

>>  Thursday, December 10, 2009

Le Bernardin
Le Bernardin holds a special place in my heart because it was my first three-star Michelin experience ever.

And, oh my goodness, it was truly the best meal I had ever eaten.  Right at that point I decided Le Bernardin was my favorite restaurant in the world (heh, I hadn't tried Kyubei at that point yet!)

It's possible I'm slightly biased.  I absolutely love seafood, especially when it's raw.  Le Bernardin specializes in seafood, and man, the food is amazing.  It's rare that every single course of a 10-course tasting is a "wow" dish.  At Le Bernardin, every single dish was absolutely incredible.  I really think you can't go wrong.  Order anything on the menu.  It will be good.
Free Appetizer
On this trip, we decided to try lunch at Le Bernardin.  Before we even looked at our menus, they set down before us a lovely free amuse - a simple salad of chopped salmon tossed with mayonnaise and herbs.  It tasted wonderful with the bread and the rice crackers.
Rice crackers
Because we did not really have time to do an extensive tasting, we opted for the three course lunch ($69), which includes a first course, main entree, and a dessert.  I love the names of their first courses.  You can choose from either the "Simply Raw" section or the "Barely touched" section.  This is my kind of seafood place! Why cook fish?
P1000200
Kampachi Tartare; Marinated Japanese Cucumber; Aged Citrus Vinegar
Of course I chose something from the "Simply Raw" section and I loved it.  The raw kampachi was deliciously flavorful, reminding me of nice fatty pieces of yellowtail sashimi. The citrus-y vinegar cut the richness of the fish perfectly - making it an overall light and refreshing dish.  A great way to start the meal.
Squid with consomme
Sautéed Calamari filled with Sweet Prawns and Shiitake Mushroom; Calamari Consommé
We had sampled this dish last year during our Chef's tasting and we couldn't stop thinking about the amazing consomme.  We even had friends visit the restaurant later on in the year and they too, raved about the consomme.  The consomme somehow captures the intensely rich umami flavors of the calamari and the prawns.  It's clear and light, yet intensely flavorful at the same time.  Perfectly executed.
P1000204
Baked Wild Striped Bass; Corn "Cannelloni"; Light Perigord Sauce
Bryan ordered this as his entree and thought it was delicious.  The chefs here are experts at cooking fish, and even their cooked fish is super soft, never overcooked, and exquisitely flavored.
P1000203
Pan Roasted Monkfish; Hon Shimeji Mushrooms; Turnip-Ginger Emulsion; Sake Broth
I loved loved loved my dish, despite the fact that it was actually cooked.  The surface of the monkfish was perfectly seared to form a thin, uniform crust beautifully infused with fragrant flavors. The mushrooms added a lovely, earthy depth to the dish, and the surrounding Sake broth was beautiful.  Everything was so good.
P1000205
Yuzu parfait, meringue, green tea biscuit, and ice cream
The dessert was solid, though perhaps not in the same league as the seafood.  My dessert was tart and refreshing, which is the way I liked it.
P1000206
Dark chocolate, peanut, and caramel tart; Meyer lemon puree, peanut powder, praline citrus sorbet
Bryan actually could not decide between two desserts, so the waiter was kind enough to bring both to us without charging us for the extra dessert.  Three star restaurants have a way of making you feel special and treated well.  What service!

And of course, the classic free baked madeleines at the end of the meal. I love these, and I think we ate the whole basket!

What can I say?  This is one of only four three-star Michelin restaurants in New York. Of course it's an incredible restaurant, and definitely a wonderful place for a celebration, especially for a seafood lover.  One thing I really like about Le Bernardin (compared to almost any other place), is that the chef's tasting is not overwhelming because it's all seafood.  For me, I am often so full by the time the heavy red meat entrees come around, I struggle to eat them.  At Le Bernardin, the nature of the food is less heavy, and therefore you just feel so much better at the end the meal.  Deliciously satisfied but not stuffed.  The perfect place to be.

We love this place so much, this was actually our third time in two years!  And we don't live in New York!

Other posts from this mini New York Series:
Daniel

Sushi Yasuda
H&H Bagels
Ess-a-Bagel
A New York Birthday
Me Peche (Momofuku Midtown)

Menus
Lunch prix fixe: $69
Dinner Tasting menus: $138 or $185

Le Bernardin
 Midtown West
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Le Bernardin on Urbanspoon

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