Recently I was most fortunate to have the opportunity to dine at Le Bernardin right here in New York City. I had dined at Le Bernardin several times before but not since their award-winning renovations completed in September 2011; therefore I was long overdue for a return visit. Heralded as a “temple” or “shrine” of fish and seafood, Le Bernardin is one of only 7 NYC restaurants to receive 3 stars by the coveted Micheline, 4 stars by the New York Times, several James Beard awards as well as other well established food and wine magazine awards etc. Last year Le Bernardin was also voted “Best Elegant Restaurant in NYC” in the annual CCA Concierge Choice Awards sponsored by the local concierge community New York City Association of Hotel Concierge NYCAHC. The roots of Le Bernardin go way back to Paris and then eventually to New York when Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze opened the restaurant here in 1986. I remember dining there at the time of the opening and feeling the incredible “wow” experience as one of the first and still is actually the only fine dining elegant restaurant in NYC devoted almost entirely to fish and seafood. This is of course for me personally another reason why I love this restaurant as I hardly ever eat any heavy meats in any way. Eric Ripert who tutored under Le Coze took over the kitchen and became partners with Maguy Le Coze; he added an even more modern day touch which is a comfortable blend of new fusion with a foundation of French technique. Eric has always been a star Chef in my book and truly knows how to utilize and blend world cuisine; taking hints from Asia, Latin America, Europe and America as well. The service is pampering; in fact their new renovations have resulted in very comfortable seats; one in which swerves conveniently in and out from the table allowing easy access. The staff flow to and from and carefully and most gently explain and present the men. The General Manager is a dear friend and colleague for many years; Mr. Ben Chekroun who is always most gracious and seen very often throughout the dining room assisting his staff and chatting with customers.
I believe there were seven courses prepared of various fish and seafood together with an incredible wine and a lovely champagne toast with the amuse buche and the first course as well. The second course as shown above is a most delicate hamachi sashimi with a hint of an asian pickle and waffle crisps with a lovely light sauce with a hint of vinegar.
The almost cooked salmon in a pool of mushroom truffled broth with tiny Asian greens was one of my favourites of the tasting menu. Again the subtle blend and fusion is key and most signature of Le Bernardin’s kitchen.
The mid course or real main course of the tasting menu was this perfectly poached halibut with again a fusion or hint of citrus floating in around a lovely light sauce.
There were several desserts of the tasting menu but this was the main dessert and one of their classics: Chocolate Passion Fruit Sorbet. Again a most delicate blend of all types of senses to stimulate the palate and add to an amazing finale of a very grand meal.
Le Bernardin is conveniently located in the heart of midtown Manhattan at 155 West 51st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Its quite handy if you are going to the theater as its literally just steps away from most Broadway Theaters and handy it is if you are staying in any of our midtown Manhattan hotels. Their newly renovated Bar/Lounge has been expanded and serves its own lighter bistro menu and serves as a wonderful more casual option for either lunch, dinner or even just a little drink meeting.