When I visited New York back in the summer, I was very keen to dine at three Michelin starred restaurant, Le Bernadin.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get a booking and instead we visited another three star restaurant, Jean Georges
, where we had a rather mixed experience. This time I was leaving nothing to chance and just over a month before we were set to go, I asked the hotel concierge to make a booking for us as Eric Ripert’s world-renowned restaurant.
Success!! We were going!
For me Le Bernadin, isn’t just a bucket list restaurant. It’s what I call a ‘collector’s item.’ My collector’s item list is much smaller than the main bucket list and includes a select list of restaurants, often international, that are difficult to get into and probably pretty pricey.
Do I sound a bit weird?
Anyway, last time we were in the States, I was able to cross The French Laundry
off the collector’s item list and this time I was very excited to add Le Bernadin to my collection!
And of course, my ever patient husband was there for the experience.
So what makes Le Bernardin a collector’s item?
1. It has three Michelin stars (one of seven in New York).
3. It has been voted the best restaurant in New York by Zagat
in 2012 and 2013. It is also the most popular on OpenTable.
4. It is widely considered one of the world’s best seafood restaurants.
I also loved the restaurant interior too. It was packed with people, buzzy and atmospheric and didn’t have the formal solemnity of some three Michelin star restaurants. Predominantly a seafood restaurant, a huge painting of the ocean adorns the wall and silver and teal touches give an elegant under-the-sea feeling.
There are four sections of the menu ‘almost raw,’ ‘barely touched’, ‘lightly cooked’ and dessert. Diners can choose a course from each section or a choice of two tasting menus. I’m practically pescatarian and I find myself looking at a menu where I want everything! Mr S (of course) wants the tasting menu, but there’s other things I want to try and I persuade him to go a la carte this time. My rationale is that by ordering four courses each we’ll actually be having the same number of courses as the tasting menu but will have the freedom to choose what we want.
Amuses arrive, a tuna tartar ‘sandwich,’ marinated scallops and a little soup. All three are incredible, my favourite being that gorgeous tuna surrounded by crisps.
A vast and magnificent bread selection. I choose an old favourite, a poppy seed roll. One thing I love about this restaurant is every time a dish is served, you are offered more bread to go along with it.
I love being offered more bread….
From the almost raw section we order…
Wild striped bass tartare with jicama salad, doused in a gorgeous champagne and mango emulsion.
Flash marinated hamachi is set off by sea beans and daikon and has a beautiful Asian flavour as it is drizzled in black garlic ponzu-sauce.
In order to appease Mr S, who has missed out on the tasting menu and to satisfy my salmon craving, we order a third raw dish. Slivers of salmon with a little salad of radish and avocado and a dressing of tomatillo-mezcal nage is actually my favourite dish. So light and refreshing!
Another reason that I was so keen to visit Le Bernadin is that chef and co-owner Eric Ripert was one of the judges on Top Chef, one of my favourite programs. He is a chef with a great personality and fantastic credentials having started his career working under Joel Robuchon. Ripert took over Le Bernadin in 1994 and the restaurant has gone from strength to strength ever since.
For our next course we chose lobster lasagne with truffle butter…doesn’t that just sound fabulous? And of course it was, and surprisingly not at all heavy.
Sauteed langoustine, truffle and chanterelle and aged balsamic vinaigrette was also beautifully cooked but unfortunately paled in comparison to the brilliance of the lasagne.
Our ‘lightly cooked’ main courses were:
Baked snapper with charred green tomatoes and spicy shrimp sauce. As you can see the dish is actually fairly simple, the fish is the star and the other ingredients simply elevated the fresh flavours on the plate.
Ripert truly deserves the title ‘King of Seafood’
And Mr S got his meat fix with grilled escolar (which has the flavour and texture of tuna) with a seared Wagyu beef, Asian pear and a soy-lemon emulsion.
What I loved about Le Bernadin was that though we had three courses of incredible food, paired with an amazing bread selection because everything was light and well portioned we weren’t feeling overly full. Plenty of space for dessert!
Milk chocolate mousse with dark caramel, candied peanuts and warm malted caramel came as the perfect sphere of chocolate…totally beautiful and tasted as good as it looked.
Mr S and I love apple-based dessert so our other choice was slow roasted apple, with caramelised puff pastry and canele ice cream. Kind of like a deconstructed apple tarte tartin with beautiful flakes of gold leaf glittering on the plate. I also ordered a side on Tahitian vanilla ice cream, as in reminded me of our honeymoon and time spent on the vanilla island of La Ta’ha
And every Michelin dinner is round off with a plate of petit fours.
I definitely preferred Le Bernardin to The French Laundry, and actually Mr Silver really adored it, declaring it the best meal we’d ever had. I’m so glad we were able to get a table and that’s another restaurant ticked off the collector’s item list!
155 West 51st