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Le Bernardin

155 W 51st Street (between 6th and 7th Avenue), New York | 212-554-1515
Ratings → Michelin *** | NYT **** | Zagat: Top pick of 2007

I ordered scallops from the Tasting Menu at Le Bernardin. The menue describes them as an Ultra Rare Scorched Scallop with Garlic Chive in a Goat's Milk Butter Emulsion. Sounds fancy, right? In reality it is an absolutely scrumptious sauce that brightens the delicate scallops and mushroom starter.

I’ve been wanting to try Chef Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin since I began seeing him frequent the set of Bravo’s “Top Chef”. Le Bernardin became a destination for me the more I heard. Despite the high price. 

I met my foodie friend Sylvia Ulloa at Le Bernardin to sample the lunch tasting menu from this dining establishment – one of only five restaurants in NYC to  maintain a three-star rating from Michelin.

Even NYC’s  24-hour blizzard couldn’t deter us.

I got there a little before noon for the 12:15 reservation. I was so excited! The dining room is beautiful, modern and understated –  lovely French white place settings, shining crystal, open spaces and light wood. Since it was snowing, they huge street-level windows let in all the wintery brightness of the day.

Upon being seated, we were handed menus and a very thick wine list. Sylvia decided to tackle that. We decided on a Australian riesling to complement our seafood.   

Upon ordering we were served a lovely amuse bouche: a salmon spread with toasted country bread. Smooth, creamy, zesty, meaty light and tantalizing on a lovely bread warm toasted all the way through the slice.

After that came the selection of bread which included a freshly baked rosemary-and-olive baguette, fig & date bread, brioche, sourdough and whole wheat rolls with the butter served in a handy silver press. I started with the sourdough roll which was very good. Sylvia tried the fig & date bread and that surpassed the roll. It was lovely to have a selection of so many varied types of bread – each one tastier than the one that came before it.

We both decided to have the Lunch Tasting Menu. I started with the scallops (pictured above), which was absolutely delicious. The citrusy sauce awakened the flavors of the mushroom, garlic chives and scallop. Each bite was small enough to savor and a pure culinary delight.

This large piece of meaty fish was tasty with the clams and arrugula garnish. It seemed too large a piece for me, though.

My second course was the Nori-Crusted Skate. It came from the Lightly Cooked portion of the menu and is described as Nori Crusted Skate; Poached Oysters and Braised Winter Lettuce; Ponzu Vinaigrette. I like the fish but thought the portion too large. I definitely loved the taste and texture of the winter lettuce and poached oysters! Sylvia tried the oysters for the appetizer and striped bass for the main entree. She thought the oysters were good but agreed that the scallops were the best entree of the meal.

Delightful mousse with white chocolate, bing cherries and bits of pistachio cake. Light and lovely.

Then for dessert I tried the item called “Pistachio: Pistachio Mousse, Caramelized White Chocolate, Lemon, Bing Cherry. It was smooth, simple and tantalizing – but it was over much too fast!

The meal ended with a cappuccino and a basket of small, flaky and tasty cookies. One a pistachio and the other a coconut madeleine.

We finished off the meal with cappuccinos and a complimentary basket of mignardises which included two mini-bites of cookies – Pistachio financiers and Coconut Madelines both of which were fresh, warm, and melted in your mouth — bringing a lovely end to a special culinary experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the company and experience of a meal at Le Bernardin — even if we didn’t get to meet the Great Chef. The only drawback was the sparse lunch crowd. I fervently hope it was the weather and not the general financial malaise that kept people away. It would be a shame to lose this great establishment!


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