Le Bernardin, NYC 2
April 7, 2009
After a fine meal at the highly rated Le Bernardin four months ago, I resolved to return for the tasting menu. So on April 3, 2009, Linda, Blair and I went for dinner. The pre-theater crowd was just leaving as we arrived; we had only a short wait to be seated. Little canapés of lemony salmon tartare were put on the table.
As before, there were three menu levels: the standard four course meal at $109; the seven course Tasting Menu at $135 or, our selection, the eight-course Chef’s Tasting Menu at $185, which has more expensive ingredients. We ordered glasses of the featured Champagne, 1998 Pommery “Cuvée Louise.” We skipped the wine pairings and ordered two bottles to go with our meal:
2006 Montagny, 1er Cru, Les Coères, DEux Montille Soeur et Frère. This was quite a bargain on Le Bernardin’s expensive wine list. It is from the Négoce venture of the two children of Hubert de Montille, who was made famous by the movie Mondovino. It had good Burgundy characteristics with a mineral edge to the taste. It went well with seafood and we enjoyed it.
The second wine was considerably more expensive: 2007 “Les Chaillets” (Vielles Vignes) Cuilleron Condrieu. We have been ordering Cuilleron Condrieu ever since we visited his winery about fifteen years ago. It was good, but I didn’t think it lived up to its reputation or the price.
Our meal began
Thinly Pounded Smoked Salmon Carpaccio; Toasted Brioche and Caviar
The smoked salmon was robust and good, enhanced by the caviar in the center slit and offset by the crisp toasted brioche underneath.
I was reminded of the famous Man Ray painting.
Seared Spanish Mackerel; Parmesan Crisp and Sun-Dried Tomato; Black Olive Oil
Spanish mackerel is more like tuna than the better known oily king mackerel. It was barely seared and had a good flavor. I didn’t think that the Parmesan crisp went well with the dish even though it was consistent with the other Italiniate garnishes. Fish and cheese is a combination that seldom works for me.
Sauteed Calamari filled with Sweet Prawns and Shiitake Mushroom; Calamari Consomme
After the plate was put in front of us the clear consomme, which you cannot see in the photo and which had a lovely calimari flavor, was poured around it. The small, filled calimari were tender and cooked just right. The piece with tentacles was crisp. We were particularly enthusiastic about this dish.
Baked Lobster; Salsify; Sauce Gribiche
This was prepared with leek greens tonight instead of salsify. The sauce gribiche was based on hollandaise instead of the traditional mayonnaise, but it had the traditional chopped capers and cornichons. Good.
White Tuna Poached in Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Sea Beans and Potato Crisps; Light Red Wine Béarnaise
Escolar is controversial as some people have trouble digesting it, but we did not. Before consulting back to the menu I thought it was swordfish as it had the same meatiness and thus could take a red wine sauce. Olive oil poaching is an excellent way to cook this kind of fish.
Crispy Black Bass; Braised Celery and Parsnip Custard; Iberico Ham-Green Peppercorn Sauce
This perfectly executed crispy skin preparation was a nice contrast to the previous cooking styles. The somewhat complex flavor combinations worked well. The custard was unusual, appropriate and well done
Frozen Chestnut Parfait, Biscuit & Wafer ; Mandarin Coulis, Coconut Sorbet
CHOCOLATE – OLIVE OIL
Dark Amedei Chocolate Ganache, Toasted Bread, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Maldon Sea Salt
The oiled and salted bread crisp was a good counterpoint to the very rich chocolate.
We each received a plate of elegant petits fours.
The meal was very well executed with superb ingredients. I would have been very disappointed with anything less considering the high price and ratings.
To see our December meal at Le Bernardin click here.
Le Bernardin’s website