Restaurant Review – Le Bernardin

My Bucket List is probably a reflection of my Type A, perfectionist personality.  Although I have scratched riding in a Ferrari off the list, I still have an onslaught of other important items, such as living in Spain, having my bachelorette party during Oktoberfest in Munich, skydiving, and eating at Le Bernardin.

Photo courtesy of Mariani's Virtual Gourmet

The 5 to Try and Bucket List is one item shorter now because I had the honor (yes, it really is an honor) and pleasure of dining at Le Bernardin this past week.  Deep down on the inside, I was hoping that Eric Ripert (swoon!) would be on location, but this just means that I am going to add “Meet Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin” onto my Bucket List.


The service was incredible.  I have never been so catered to in my entire life.  From the person who greeted me at the door, to the sommelier that I chatted with regarding 2005 Bordeauxs, to the guy that pulls your chair out for you when he sees you returning from the ladies room, to the waiters addressing you by name…it’s just special.
And that was exactly how dinner at Le Bernardin was: special; one of those moments I will never forget.  Deciding which menu to order from was a difficult decision.  We opted for the Le Bernardin Tasting Menu, mainly because I can only eat so much (lesson learned from Moto) and I had my heart set on the black bass.

After our wine was poured (a 2005 La Dame de Montrose Bordeaux that was amazing when poured, and only tasted even more of juicy, red fruits when allowed to breathe) and our bread selections were made (try the 7 grain!), it was time to begin.

 

Amuse Bouche - Oyster

The amuse bouche was an oyster, in foam with tiny bits of mushroom.  It was so aromatic, flavorful, and had me anticipating the rest of dinner.  The courses, in order, are as follows:
Thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, served over a toasted baguette.  Oh – my – goodness.  I didn’t believe that this razor-thin fish could taste so fresh.  It was extremely mild, but the shaved chives (which are symmetrically strewn on top of the fish) and olive oil provided a nice variation to this fish.

 

Thinly pounded yellowfin tuna

Charred octopus, fermented black bean, pear sauce vierge, miso vinaigrette ink: The octopus used is from Spain and the kind you use for pulpo a la gallega.  It was hard to believe I was eating octopus as I am so accostomed to toughness.  The waiter poured the fermented black bean onto the octopus, which was sweet-smelling and the taste contrasted nicely with the tangy pear.

 

Charred octopus

Lobster carpaccio with hearts of palm: This lobster was so sweet, you could have served it to me for dessert.  The hearts of palm were slivered in such a way that with each bite, there was a delicate crunch.  The entire dish was dressed in a light butter sauce, which seemed very savory in comparison to how sweet the lobster was.

 

Lobster carpaccio

Seared yellowtail with truffle risotto: When the waiter poured the truffle emulsion onto the yellowtail, I smelled the earthy aroma immediately.  The tuna was firm, yet it just melted in my mouth.  You will scoff at truffle oil after eating this dish.

 

Seared yellowtail

Black bass, beansprout “risotto,” and mini steamed buns: The firm black bass was a great contrast to the crunchy beansprouts and the fluffy, slightly spongy texture of the lup cheong (sausage) mini bun.  What I loved about this fish is that it is a white firm flesh, but the taste is as delicate as a flounder.  Was this dish everything I had hoped for and more?  Yes.

 

Black bass

Our pre-dessert course was parsnip creme brulee with hazelnut.  Personally, I loved the “browned milk solids” which gave a touch of bitterness to the sweet (yes, sweet, believe it or not) and tangy parsnip.  Overall, the dish was also a wonderful play on textures.

Parsnip creme brulee

Milk chocolate parfait with liquid pear: Pear and chocolate is one of my favorite dessert combinations, so this was a real treat.  The parfait has a very granular texture, and although this was milk (as opposed to dark) chocolate, the gingersnap balanced the sweetness.

 

Milk chocolate parfait

Time for petit fours and coffee!  We asked for French press coffee, and although it is not on the menu, one of the waiters more than happily brought it out to us (and it was delicious).  I could have eaten an entire tray of the little tart-like petit fours (the second in the photo).

 

Petit fours

This was one of the stand-out meals of my life.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime (and Bucket List worthy) experience for me to actually be dining here and makes me feel so grateful for the things that I have.

 

If you asked me to pick a favorite course, I really could not pick one.  Honestly, I couldn’t even rank each of them – that’s how incredible and unique each plate was.  Le Bernardin deserves every one of its three Michelin stars and I hope that everyone, at some point, has the opportunity to dine here.

Cost per Person (with wine): $230 (so worth it though)

Ambiance/Atmosphere: 5/5

Food: 5/5

Wine: 5/5

Service: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

If I could give it 6 out of 5 stars, I would.

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