Review: Le Bernardin.

One of the most iconic fine dining restaurants in Manhattan is no other than Le Bernardin.

I’ve admired chef Éric Ripert and even had a celebrity chef crush on him for years (the French accent doesn’t hurt). I loved watching his cooking and food shows, Avec Eric and On the Tablefor his culinary travels, elegant but approachable recipes, and his calm demeanor. Chef Éric has been the executive chef at Le Bernardin since 1994 and the restaurant has held three Michelin stars since 2006, an impressive feat. It’s earned numerous accolades including placing #36 on San Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019; has maintained a four-star review from The New York Times for more than three decades; and has received more James Beard Awards than any other NYC restaurant (outstanding restaurant, outstanding chef, outstanding wine service, best restaurant design, and outstanding restaurateur).

Outside Le Bernardin.

The philosophy at Le Bernardin is simple. The fish is the star of the plate. They offer several menus: chef’s tasting, le bernardin tasting, vegetarian tasting, and à la carte at various price points. We actually couldn’t get a reservation in the dining room but they offer all the same menu choices in the lounge where it’s walk-in only. We had no issues walking in around 5:30pm and getting a table (it did get busy within an hour or so). We were torn between the chef’s tasting and the le bernardin tasting as both sounded great but decided to opt for the grand chef’s tasting menu.

Lounge Seating, Less Formal than the Dining Room.

Amuse Bouche: Fluke with Kimchi (8/10), Pea Soup with Lobster (8.5/10), Hamachi and Artichoke Tartare (8/10), and Compressed Watermelon (7/10).

The serving vessel for the amuse bouche was definitely old school, not necessarily to my liking, but the various bites were really tasty.

Amuse Bouche: Seared Tuna with Daikon (8.5/10).

Bread Selection (8.5-9/10).

The bread selection service is almost a dying trend. Nowadays, fine dining restaurants will have a bread course part of their tasting menu but not with all these tantalizing options. Of course, we got one of each and they asked us several times throughout the meal if we would like more (we certainly did).

P1050170

Bread Course served with Butter: Focaccia, Sundried Tomato, Seeded, Raisin Walnut, Quinoa, and Baguette.

Caviar Tartare, Sea Lettuce, and Dashi Gelée (9/10).

Finely minced hamachi tartare was topped with Osetra caviar with a light dashi gelée encompassing it. Elegant and decadent.

Langoustine with Foie Gras Crouton and Balsamic Truffle Vinaigrette (8/10).

The seared sweet langoustine was over small croutons flavored with foie gras. The balsamic vinaigrette was a little strong as I couldn’t taste the delicate truffle flavor.

Sea Trout with Pickled Red Onion and Citrus Miso Emulsion (8/10).

Sea trout, barely cooked, had hints of smoke that paired nicely with the vibrant umami citrus miso sauce. Sharpness from the red onion and pops from the trout roe made for a solid dish.

Black Bass with Baby Shrimp and Calamari in a Tomato Bouillon (8/10).

Supple black bass was gently steamed and accompanied by tender pieces of shrimp, calamari, and scallops, in a light summery tomato broth.

Dover Sole with Almonds, Peas, and Fava Beans in a Soy Lime Emulsion (8.5/10).

Simply sautéed sole had a beautiful golden crust and was garnished with peas, fava beans, and crunchy almonds. The soy lime emulsion only complemented the delicate flavors of the fish.

Maine Lobster with “Leek Cannelloni” and Red Wine Rosemary Sauce (7/10).

Without a doubt, this was my least favorite dish of the night. The red wine rosemary sauce was entirely overpowering and masked the subtle flavors of the lobster and other components of the dish. Throughout the meal, all aspects of the dishes were there to enhance the seafood whereas, in this dish, the lobster was forgettable. The main course for the le bernardin tasting looked great (the people next to us got the other tasting menu) which was a take on surf and turf with walu and wagyu.

Cucumber with Kiwi and Yogurt Sorbet (8.5/10).

A fantastic refreshing palate cleanser. Persian cucumber and lime granité with juicy pieces of kiwi and silky smooth tart yogurt sorbet made for a heavenly combination.

“Corn-Hibiscus” with Charred Milk Ice Cream (8.5/10).

Crunchy and airy hibiscus meringue was filled with silky sweet corn pudding. The bright crimson hibiscus sauce added tartness and the charred milk ice cream rounded out the entire dessert. The only thing I wasn’t keen on were the pieces of baby corn as they had a slightly strange taste.

Petit Fours.

Complimentary Dessert: “The Egg” Chocolate Pot de Crème with Maple Syrup and Caramel Cloud (8.5-9/10).

Our server got the vibe that both of us worked in the industry and presented us with this “off the menu” dessert with creamy rich chocolate flavored pot de crème with a dollop of maple syrup and topped with an airy caramel foam. He had said if he knew earlier he could have “hooked us up” more but we were more than happy with the complimentary dessert.

While Le Bernardin doesn’t serve the most innovative or exciting dishes, they have remained consistent throughout the years with high quality cooking, ingredients, and service. They have remained true to their ideology that the seafood should shine and that it did so my rating is a 8/10.

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