Fish is not usually my first choice for a meal when I dine out, but that may be because I had never experienced Eric Ripert’s cooking before. This is unlike any seafood you have ever had. But, I’ll get to the food in a minute.
I knew that Le Bernardin has been the top rated New York restaurant for food in the Zagat’s survey for a number of years and that it ranked near the top for décor and service as well. What really intrigued me though, was a panel in New York Magazine who were asked where would you have your last meal on earth. Two of the four said Le Bernardin.
To describe the décor as modern might suggest surroundings somewhat austere or sterile. Le Bernardin is anything but. While the style is modern, the feel is one of warmth and elegance. Rich blue walls offset by light oak furniture and paneling, stunning artwork, huge vases of flowers and soft lighting create a mood of romance even at lunchtime.
My meal began with a delicious smoked salmon and herb spread served with thin sliced crusty bread. The first course was an almost raw thyme crusted yellowfin tuna with mesclun greens and a truffle vinaigrette. The thyme added a wonderful flavor layer to the tuna and the vinaigrette the perfect accompaniment.
What came next was probably the best fish I have ever had. Wild striped bass, steamed in a delicate ginger, scallion and tomato broth. The thick pieces of bass were so perfectly cooked, so tender, so juicy that I began to cut it into tiny pieces so that it would last longer. The broth added a hint of flavor that enabled you to taste each of the flavors without any overpowering the dish. I was truly sad when it was gone.
Dessert was a salted cashew and chocolate tart, red wine caramel banana and a malted rum milk chocolate ice cream. Small tastes of each, just enough to stimulate the senses. It was wonderful.
Some other menu items that caught my attention; progressive tasting of fluke; four different cerviches; layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, foie gras, toasted baguette, shaved chives and extra virgin olive oil; pan roasted codfish, sautéed baby artichokes, pistachio and parmesan in a sage and garlic perfumed broth and a whole red snapper baked in rosemary and thyme salt crust, extra virgin olive oil and a casserole of market vegetables.
The wine list is excellent, but heavy on the more expensive selections. Not too many choices under $60. Expect to pay $80-$100 for a decent bottle.
Jackets for the gentlemen. All credit cards accepted.
ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High
WHAT OTHERS SAY…
AAA Five Diamond Award
Forbes Five Star Award
New York Times 4 Stars
Wine Spectator Award
Prepare to dine on “a higher plane” at this “dazzling” Midtown “star” where Eric Ripert’s “world-class” tasting menus highlight “transcendent” French seafood, earning it No. 1 Food honors in NYC for the eighth year in a row; a “deep” wine list, “exemplary” staff and “soigné” surrounds further justify the “sky-high” tabs, so for a “dream-come-true” meal, this is “as good as it gets.” ZAGAT