Le Bernardin, NYC 4
March 13, 2012
Le Bernardin was closed last summer for a complete redecoration of the dining room. It is more modern, spacious and brighter now. (At our last meal there my photos were unusable due to the low light, but now there is an overhead spot down onto each table.) I had always liked the old-fashioned paintings of fishermen, but they have been replaced by a semi-abstract wave. Linda and I went for lunch on January 26, 2012. We ordered a bottle of 2009 Jean-Marc Boillot “Les Charrons” Meursault. It was superb and had enough body to keep its interest as apéritif and through all the fish courses.
The first course for both of us was
NANTUCKET BAY SCALLOP
Progressive Scallop Tasting; “Ultra Simple to Complex…”
There were three fresh, cold, raw Nantucket Bay scallops in each shell. We started at the lower left with plain, undressed scallops. Working clockwise there were a Japanese seaweed garnish, piment d’Espelette, wasabe with little Japanese leaves and yuzu. The scallops were top quality and delicious with their flavors brought out in different ways by the garnishes.
Linda’s second course was
Poached Escolar; Sea Beans and Aki Nori, Kaffir Lime-Lemongrass scented Marinière
The marinière sauce had a luscious buttery flavor. Superb. The escolar was excellent and had a scent of its own.
My second was
Butter Poached Lobster Tail; Spiced Celeriac, Earl-Grey-Citrus Sauce
The lobster was nicely poached, not too much. The sauce was based on bergamot, the same citrus oil which flavors Earl Grey tea. It has a slight aromatic bitterness which goes well with the sweet lobster meat.
Linda’s main course was
Poached Striped Bass; Wild Mushrooms and Baby Turnips, Rich Peking Duck Broth
The bass was, of course, beautifully cooked and flavorful. The Peking Duck Broth was not overly rich, but after a number of spoonfuls with the bass, she ceased using much sauce, so she could taste the fish.
My main was
Baked Skate “En Papillote”; Fennel Compote, “Zarzuela Sauce”
Two layers of skate enclosed the fennel. The sauce, named after a Catalan fish stew, was like a bouillabaisse, but spicier.
Linda’s dessert was
Cinnamon Caramel Cream, Green Apple Foam, Candied Walnut, Red Wine Caramel
She said that this dessert could be described as ethereal, yet the flavors of the apple and cinnamon balls were real and the walnut gave a welcome crunch.
My dessert was
Black Sesame Panna Cotta, Sour Cherry Sphere, Mandarin Sorbet
The sesame flavor came through beautifully and was nicely complemented by the other ingredients.
A basket with warm fresh, madeleine-like cakes and pistachio financières finished the excellent meal.
The kitchen has retained its three-star techniques and skills. There are more non-French touches than before, particularly Japanese. Some dishes have added spiciness without the senseless red pepper flakes or hot sauce that plague cuisine in the US. The service was excellent. The noise level is quiet. The pace was just right. Bravo.
To see our previous blogposts on Le Bernardin click here.