Day Two in my New York trip and it’s time for another Three Michelin Stars, World’s 50 Best rated restaurant. Except this was like no other: this was my favourite meal in the entire trip.
Le Bernardin is the flagship restaurant of Eric Ripert specializing in seafood. It has Three Michelin Stars from our favourite tire company, ranked #21 in S. Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurant 2014 list (moved up to #18 in 2015), and one of the few restaurants that received the maximum possible four stars rating from New York Times.
In contrast to Eleven Madison Park I visited just the day before, the vibe here was more formal. Jackets were required and the place was garrisoned by an army of well dressed front of house team. It appeared that the restaurant was frequented by New York’s finest as I was surrounded by well dressed partners and professionals on their business lunch. For me as a tourist, this was an excellent venue for soaking in the culture of high powered New York and people watching.
I had the difficulty in deciding between the Le Bernardin Tasting Menu and the Chef’s Tasting Menu. The latter was more expensive but had more luxurious ingredients. The first uni course in the Chef’s caught my eye, but I was told there was a shortage of uni in the city (what?) so it was substituted with something else. Sans the uni course, and I already had caviar and lobster the night before, I made the unusual choice of opting for the less expensive Le Bernardin Tasting Menu.
Tuna Bread Spread. Not wanting to fill up on bread, I could barely contain myself from smearing more of this delicious spread on the table side bread.
Tuna. Really impressed by how this dish was elevated. First, the slices of raw Yellowfin Tuna were fresh and thin – making it easy to chew. Then Iberico Ham provided a nice contrasting crunch and salty element that worked so, so well. Brilliant dish and what a way to start the tasting menu.
Scallop. The scallop was “barely cooked”, leaving me to enjoy the fine taste and texture of the scallop in its most unchanged form. If that wasn’t enough, the brown butter dashi broth pairing made this a stunning savory starter. So heavenly delicious!
Crab. I was impressed by the fine, razor thin knife work on the cauliflower.
Salmon. The most memorable dish for me, the salmon was also “barely cooked” from the bottom then progressed to raw (sashimi grade) as it gets to the top with the gradient textural change. So interesting and so good.
Striped Bass. The fish was so beautifully cooked! The Merlot-Black Olive Emulsion was so rich and delicious…I was spending my time finding more of the delicate fish to mop up the sauce! The rolled up Zucchini Caponata displayed fine showmanship.
Clementine. A citrus-sy and refreshing dessert that cleaned my palate nicely and prepared me well for the actual dessert.
Hazelnut Praline. This looked like it came right out of a French patisserie…very impressive construction. I am impressed that the restaurant not only focused on its hallmark seafood dishes, it certainly did not go lazy on its dessert either.
What can I say? I liked all of the courses! Each one tasted great and the presentation was so intricate. What I really liked was that the menu took ingredients I am already familiar with and pushed what can be done with them even further. What’s more amazing was that they did it without any meat courses. 20 something Michelin Stars later, I am still impressed – and that made me really happy.