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Le Bernardin, Chef-Partner Eric Ripert's Flagship on 51st and 7th - Upscale, Fine-Dining Seafood in Midtown West

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http://www.le-bernardin.com

As a birthday present Hubby made us reservations to come to NYC and eat at Le Bernadin. Something I have really wanted to do because I really love seafood. Hubby isn't as big of a seafood person, but appreciates it from time to time. I am not sure what wine Hubby ordered, but it was light and fresh and complimented the food perfectly. The bread service was good with a choice of brioche, pretzel, sourdough, foccacio or a few other selections. Although Hubby commented that the sourdough just wasn't like what you could get in San Francisco. We had the following tasting menu:

STRIPED BASS

Wild Striped Bass Tartare; Baby Fennel, Zucchini Crispy Artichoke, Parmesan Sauce Vierge

(This was really good, fresh, nice balance of acid.)

CRAB

Chilled Peekytoe Crab Salad; Baby Radish and Avocado Green Apple-Lemongrass Nage

(The sauce really made this fresh and good, it made the flavors really pop.)

SCALLOP

Warm Scallop “Carpaccio”; Snowpeas and Shiitake Lime-Shiso Broth

(My least favorite dish, although the broth was really well composed.)

HALIBUT

Poached Halibut; Glazed Baby Bok Choy,Bergamot-Basil Emulsion

(Very nicely cooked, dense and perfectly flavored, really simple, and had a basil foam that was actually good and appropriately used to thicken the other basil sauce in a nice way.)

MONKFISH

Roasted Monkfish; Wilted Mustard Greens-Daikon “Sandwich” Adobo Sauce

(Also perfectly cooked, the sauce on this dish was so good you could eat it as a broth.)

STRAWBERRY

Strawberry Sorbet, Mascarpone Cream, Basil

(Fresh and a nice pop of flavor.)

BLACK FOREST

Dark Chocolate Cremeux, Kirsch Bavaroise, Belgian Kriek Beer Sorbet

(Didn't prefer this dish at all, just didn't do it for me chocolate wise or otherwise.)

Overall I thought the dishes were executed perfectly, although dessert was kind of a let down. The petit fours with the check were ok, but again would have expected better flavors, with the flavors overall being so well thought out. The sauces were absolute perfection. There wasn't any real wow, so don't necessarily expect that, and it certainly wasn't as playful as some more nouveau fine dining places, but everything was executed with a lot of precision and you didn't leave stuffed, but had eaten enough, which was a nice feeling. If the a la carte dishes are the same size, I might have left hungry with only four courses, but maybe the portions are bigger? I really liked the decor and the space between tables, it was more relaxing and peaceful than many restaurant experiences. I am glad I did it, would I go back- I am not sure. It was good, the sauces were just stellar and something you rarely see, the fish was cooked perfectly. There was just nothing I hold in my head except those perfect sauces that really caught me.

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Recently had a birthday/anniversary dinner here.  As above, the sauces are really exceptional.  As is the overall experience.

I remember the first (only?) time I ever had a scallop consommé was here. Can you imagine the labor and food cost of such a dish?

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This discussion reminds me that 1) the next time I'm in New York I want to go to Le Bernadin (I was coincidentally just discussing it with a potential co-conspirator last weekend, in fact) and that 2) by far the best chapter in Bourdain's otherwise mediocre "Medium Raw" was the chapter about Justo Thomas, the the guy in Le Bernadin's basement who knifes through a thousand pounds of fish a day for Mr. Ripert. I was unable to discover a link to this chapter through the normal method of Googling through the internets searching for brazen copyright violations, but I did discover that  that a number of other reviewers singled out this chapter -- "My Aim is True" -- for praise, as well.  I was unable to turn up any internet pirates, alas, but anyone who loves food and respects craft would do well to at least read the chapter for free in some bookstore aisle, if there are any bookstores left near where you live.

And I did discover this video.

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This discussion reminds me that 1) the next time I'm in New York I want to go to Le Bernadin (I was coincidentally just discussing it with a potential co-conspirator last weekend, in fact) and that 2) by far the best chapter in Bourdain's otherwise mediocre "Medium Raw" was the chapter about Justo Thomas, the the guy in Le Bernadin's basement who knifes through a thousand pounds of fish a day for Mr. Ripert. I was unable to discover a link to this chapter through the normal method of Googling through the internets searching for brazen copyright violations, but I did discover that  that a number of other reviewers singled out this chapter -- "My Aim is True" -- for praise, as well.  I was unable to turn up any internet pirates, alas, but anyone who loves food and respects craft would do well to at least read the chapter for free in some bookstore aisle, if there are any bookstores left near where you live.

And I did discover this video.

IIRC one of Bourdain's shows was about Le Bernadin and they spent some time talking to Justo. He ate at the restaurant and said that it was the first time he had ever done so.

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IIRC one of Bourdain's shows was about Le Bernadin and they spent some time talking to Justo. He ate at the restaurant and said that it was the first time he had ever done so.

In the book it details the meal as part of the chapter Waitman references.  I actually listened to the book (Bourdain narrates all of his audio books - so I like them for long car rides more than some generic voice over actor) on a drive from NY to Pittsburgh and found the chapters on Justo and the one on Fergus Henderson to be my favorites.

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WEnt here in 2006 and again, I think in 2012. Both times were super, but the more resent trip even more so. This place is a temple to seafood. And I have never ever before seen so many staff per diner. Not even at Daniel. That said, a shrimp boudin dish at Palena did back in 2005 or 2006 rivals what we had here. Clearly, this place is a worthy destination especially for those that love seafood.

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On 5/23/2014 at 9:58 PM, Pool Boy said:

WEnt here in 2006 and again, I think in 2012. Both times were super, but the more resent trip even more so. This place is a temple to seafood. And I have never ever before seen so many staff per diner. Not even at Daniel. That said, a shrimp boudin dish at Palena did back in 2005 or 2006 rivals what we had here. Clearly, this place is a worthy destination especially for those that love seafood

And the flowers!

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I have never been shy about trying well regarded restaurants at home and while on the road.  While in Sonoma for a wedding years ago, I was able to get a reservation at The French Laundry.  It was a horrible experience, perhaps triggered when I declined the $58 glass of champagne to start. The service was disrespectful, and some of the dishes were almost inedible.  One of the dishes was so salty I could not eat it!  $1200 for two of us!  Le Bernardin on the other hand was an amazing experience.  The service was amazing!  The food absolutely wonderful! Half the price of The French Laundry! I will go back in a heartbeat!

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I'm not a major fan of the high end offerings in NYC.  Most have either seemed way overpriced or have just not appealed to my tastes.  One exception was Eleven Madison Park during the first couple of years of Humm's cooking - it was great.  The other has been Le Bernardin, where I'm not sure that you could get a meal not worth it.  Yes, the price tag is high.  But its an all around great place.

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1 hour ago, Steve R. said:

I'm not a major fan of the high end offerings in NYC.  Most have either seemed way overpriced or have just not appealed to my tastes.  One exception was Eleven Madison Park during the first couple of years of Humm's cooking - it was great.  The other has been Le Bernardin, where I'm not sure that you could get a meal not worth it.  Yes, the price tag is high.  But its an all around great place.

Dude I agree on both counts. I've had the absolute good fortune to dine at Le Bernardin twice, and both experiences were exceptional.

That said, Frank Ruta is still at my culinary core.

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The wife and I stopped in on Tuesday night for a pre-theatre snack in the lounge, and had one of the better bites of food I've had in the last several years.

Seafood Causa ($26) "Lobster, Crab, Shrimp; Potato Mousseline, Aji Amarillo Pepper, Avocado, Lime".  This was seafood and avocado topped with the potato mousseline and then a few of the spicy peppers.  A moderate spice permeated throughout.  The result was the best 'potato soup' I've ever had - and certainly the first containing avocado.  The lobster cappuccino ($17) was good, but not nearly as inventive (or satisfying) as the Causa.

Cocktails were well made.  Service was a bit cool and detached, particularly for sitting at the bar.

Side note, the night before we'd spent a good amount of time at Aldo Sohm next door, not realizing the wine bar is operated by some of the same team.  Honestly we didn't care for the wines offered or the shareable plates.  Or the service.  Or the atmosphere.  Maybe it was us?

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4 hours ago, genericeric said:

Side note, the night before we'd spent a good amount of time at Aldo Sohm next door, not realizing the wine bar is operated by some of the same team.  Honestly we didn't care for the wines offered or the shareable plates.  Or the service.  Or the atmosphere.  Maybe it was us?

Can you elaborate on what you did not like about the service, and atmosphere? 

I find as I get older, I am preferring the backdrop of more casual places with just good ol" simply prepared food.  I am finding myself seeking out casual spots with expertly prepared food versus high end dining. Its like picking out a wardrobe, comfort over fancy.

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4 hours ago, genericeric said:

Side note, the night before we'd spent a good amount of time at Aldo Sohm next door, not realizing the wine bar is operated by some of the same team.  Honestly we didn't care for the wines offered...

There are probably 200-300 wines by the bottle and have to be over 50 by the glass. You didn't care for any?

That said, I was there (wine bar) about a month ago. Had a nice time overall, but largely due to the company I was with - the bar service was pretty off-putting. As to Le Bernardin, I can understand that one person's "cool" is another's "professional". The aim at L-B is a bit different than say, A Rake's Progress.

Also, the place itself isn't particularly "fancy".

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1 hour ago, curiouskitkatt said:

Its like picking out a wardrobe, comfort over fancy.

1 hour ago, Keithstg said:

Also, the place itself isn't particularly "fancy".

Maybe I'm just overprotective of our members, but the last thing that genericeric wrote was, "Maybe it was us?" This doesn't mean his party had bad table manners, or was expecting for the staff to pour them free drinks; it just means that maybe they prefer another type of environment, and he came right out and said it.

I'm not saying you two did anything wrong in trying to seek additional information, either, but let's give Eric a chance to clarify. It might just be a lobster pound / Michelin 3-Star type-of preference.

"Detached and cool" is exactly how I'd describe the service at Le Bernardin, btw - in a very French way (which I happen to love, but that may not be others' cup of tea).

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14 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Maybe I'm just overprotective of our members, but the last thing that genericeric wrote was, "Maybe it was us?" This doesn't mean his party had bad table manners, or was expecting for the staff to pour them free drinks; it just means that maybe they prefer another type of environment, and he came right out and said it.

I'm not saying you to did anything wrong in trying to seek additional information, either, but let's give Eric a chance to clarify. It might just be a lobster pound / Michelin 3-Star type-of preference.

"Detached and cool" is exactly how I'd describe the service at Le Bernardin, btw - in a very French way (which I happen to love, but that may not be others' cup of tea).

Understood, Don.  WRT to the "fancy" comment I just wanted to clarify for Katt (who I am guessing hasn't been there) that the environment wasn't super-fancy, a la L-B proper. I've also had less than stellar service at AS Bar, as I mentioned. Service at L-B has been superb in my opinion, and would describe it as you note.

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Le Bernardin and Aldo Sohm are very different animals. The latter would be kind of pointless if that were not the case, but I can see how someone might be disappointed by the differences.  They aren't really aimed at the same audience. 

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On 8/9/2018 at 12:35 PM, Keithstg said:

There are probably 200-300 wines by the bottle and have to be over 50 by the glass. You didn't care for any?

We did confine ourselves to the wines by the glass.  It felt to me that the whites (it was hot as hell the day we were there and a red didn't sound good) trended too sweet for my tastes.   The flight is currently riesling, which totally makes sense in August in New York, but again, just not as much to my liking.  I'm not saying its a bad list, but for a guy that likes a lot of oak in a chardonnay, it wasn't the list for me.

On 8/9/2018 at 12:00 PM, curiouskitkatt said:

Can you elaborate on what you did not like about the service, and atmosphere? 

The waiter we had at Aldo Sohm was condescending and was having a hard time reading the table.  I don't mind waiters gently restating a french term if I've mispronounced it, but doing it three times in front of a group becomes tiresome.  Requests for recommendations were met with eye rolls, etc.  Perhaps why we had a hard time finding wines we enjoyed.

The decor felt dated to me but that is entirely personal preference.  Note - while the service at LB wasn't the style I enjoy (a little too formal for my liking), it was entirely professional.  Aldo Sohm was not.

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