Le Bernardin, NYC 3
August 18, 2010
Le Bernardin has the top ratings in Michelin, Zagat and The New York Times, which it has held longer than any other restaurant. Kees and Els joined Linda and me for dinner there the evening of July 31, 2010. We started with glasses of Vranken “Demoiselle” Champagne (NV.) The amuse-gueule with it was a ceviche of salmon.
At the suggestion of the sommelier, we ordered a bottle of 2008 Domaine Roulot Bourgogne Blanc. This wine, bottled in Meursault, is grown just outside the appellation and has light Meursault earthiness: nice.
The menu offers a wide range of choices in each of four courses for $112. There are also two tasting menus.
Els’ “Almost Raw” course was
Striped Bass Tartare, Mint, Ice Plant Salad, Chilled Lemon Nage
She said that the fish was very fresh; there was a sour taste with a little sweetness; the ice plant tastes like cucumber.
Layers of Thinly Pounded Yellowfin Tuna, Foie Gras and Toasted Baguette, Shaved Chives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Linda thought that the tuna was excellent. The foie gras was not evident, but that was irrelevant.
Kees’ and my “Almost Raw” course was
Sea Urchin Roe on a Bed of Jalapeño– Wasabi Jam, Seaweed Salt, Wakame–Orange Scented Broth
This was a very generous portion of good sea urchin. The other flavors were mild, enhancing the taste of the sea. The broth was poured around after serving and so had not diluted the sea urchin texture. Excellent.
Els’ “Barely Touched” course was
Warm Lobster Carpaccio;
Hearts of Palm, Orange Vinaigrette
Els thought that the vinaigrette was a surprise at first; the pieces of hearts of palm were not tender, but she enjoyed the dish.
Sea Urchin Risotto; Toasted Nori, Urchin-Citrus Emulsion
Linda said that this was “absolutely scrumptious.” “The sea urchin cream poured around and over the excellent risotto created a divine dish.”
Kees’ and my “Barely Touched” course was
Charred Octopus, Fermented Black Bean, White Peach, Sauce Vierge, Ink–Miso Vinaigrette, Purple Basil
The octopus had been nicely charred, bringing out its flavor, but leaving it tender. The black beans provided a robust salty feature while the white peach slices added a refreshing crunch. Very good.
Els’ “Lightly Cooked” course was
Surf and Turf
Escolar and Seared Nebraska Wagyu Beef; Sea Bean Salad and Eggplant Fries; Mr. Kaufman’s Pesto and Red Wine Sauce
Els said that the escolar was tender, like veal. The beef was excellent and the eggplant beignets like bon bons.
Seared Yellowtail King Fish; Truffle Risotto, Spring Vegetables, Black Truffle Emulsion
Linda said that having a taste of truffle risotto with most bites of this excellent “white tuna” provided a terrific combination.
The sea bass skin was crispy without the fish being overcooked, a feat which always impresses me. The bean sprout and Chinese sausage base was a lovely, mild and appropriate, as was the diluted hoisin broth. Very good. I didn’t see the point of the little boring steamed buns on the side.
Els’ dessert was
Milk-Soaked Sponge, Roasted White Chocolate, Banana, Lemon, Coconut Sorbet
Caramelized Mission Fig, Red Wine Caramel, Hazelnut, Goat Cheese Fondant, Bacon Ice Cream
She wrote: “The crisp fig skin and fondant were superb with the real bacon flavor ice cream. An excellent close to a great meal.”
Kees and I had
Gianduja Mousse, Hazelnuts, Honey, Banana, Brown Butter Ice Cream
Everything worked together in this classic combination.
We each received a little plate with four exquisite mignardises.
We all enjoyed our meal a lot. The ambience, service, pace etc were just right. Le Bernardin certainly deserves its ranking as one of the few top restaurants in New York. “Prima,” as Els would say.
The happy diners on the way out.