I met my sister tonight in New York City for a nice, quiet dinner at the Michelin three star fish and seafood restaurant Le Bernardin. I’ll write more later about the factors that result in a Michelin three star rating (which is the highest), but in short it is a commitment to the highest levels of gastronomic accomplishment accompanied by the very best in service. Le Bernardin hits all those marks, many times over and resulted in a delicious dinner with perfect service. Here’s what we had.
We decided to do the Chef’s Tasting Menu which has 8 courses, but of course they also give you an amuse bouche appetizer and a third dessert, so it comes out to 10 courses. If that wasn’t enough food, they also give you all the fresh bread and butter you like with each course. There are at least a dozen bread selections. This is the french bread (which I think is a must since this is at the core, a French restaurant) and the tomato fennel brioche.
The amuse bouche was a tuna tartare over chili oil, lobster knuckle and black truffle salad, and a cauliflower truffle soup.
The first course was Caviar Tartare. The tartare was made from filet mignon and—in an ocean-inspired twist— kampachi (yellowtail tuna). Underneath was a gelee of lightly smoked dashi (the famous Japanese broth made from seaweed and bonito flakes). It was surrounded by a salt foam, which was another nod to the sea. I really loved the giant pearls of caviar that popped as you ate it. This was a really awe inspiring dish to begin the night.
Up next was the Crab, which was a lightly held together crab cake topped with an Old Bay crisp and surrounded by a shellfish cardamom emulsion. I thought this was fabulous. Certainly the very best crab cake I’ve ever had!
Next was the lacquered Lobster with truffled tagliatelle pasta and black truffle sauce. It was really nice to get this big slice of black truffle without paying an additional “truffle supplement.” The lobster was very lightly cooked and sliced on the bias so you could just pick up those big, tender pieces with your fork. It ended up being our second-favorite dish.
We had the Salmon next. This was a barely cooked Faroe Islands salmon with a warm Buddha’s hand salad and surrounded by a citrus, tarragon and olive oil sauce. This was the first olive oil sauce we had tonight, and was a well beaten emulsion like a salad dressing. It was a cool and flavorful idea!
Up next was the Dover Sole. It was sautéed with almonds on top and was served over a lemon potato mousseline (think mashed potatoes), and with a shallot emulsion. Sole is a beautiful fish, but this one didn’t do it for either of us. It was firm and didn’t have the delicate nature of the prior preparations.
We had our favorite dish next. The “White Tuna” and Japanese Wagyu. This was a grilled escolar and seared Japanese wagyu with a green endive farçie and a red-wine peppercorn sauce. Wow. What a paring. The wagyu had a rich smoky smell and taste of a charcoal fire, but was so soft and tender like it had been sous vide for hours. It was an impeccable preparation alone and even better paired against that tender white fish. The little curl in the front is a mushroom duxelles.
This led into the first of three desserts: simply called Hibiscus. it was a jasmine ice cream over macerated raspberries and preserved lychees. And gold. Can’t go wrong with a little gold. Or a whole lot of gold. This was a fun palate cleanser.
Second desert was called Citrus. This was so much fun to eat! It was a clementine-yogurt sorbet covered in a meringue shell that cracked and creaked when you spooned it, and was accompanied by a burnt orange cremeux that gave a light bitterness to balance out the delicate sweetness. I was ringed by our second olive oil sauce laced with citrus. This was a super successful dessert, and was super cool to eat.
The final dessert was an amuse assortment of mini bites of cake, a delicious citrus macaron, a chocolate mousse, a gelee, and a gold dusted chocolate. It was a wonderful way to end a delicious evening, especially with a cup of their delicious coffee.
This is pretty much a once in a lifetime type of meal, but if you ever luck into the chance, go for it!!!