Friday Feast: Le Bernardin

Last weekend marked the end of my birthday month, but thankfully it ended on a very high note!  B and I met my Dad and Stepmom in NYC for dinner at my FAVORITE restaurant, Le Bernardin.

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This seafood mecca run by acclaimed Chef Eric Ripert (follow him on Twitter!) has consistently been voted Most Popular and No. 1 for Food in Zagat.  Le Bernardin serves only the finest quality seafood and it is prepared so perfectly, that it almost brings a foodie like me to tears.  I have been fortunate to have visited this restaurant twice prior to this meal and those have been some of the most memorable meals of my life.  This night was no exception!

B and I arrived a bit early, so we headed to the bar for a cocktail.  The restaurant recently had a complete overhaul of its design and decor, and it was absolutely stunning!  The bar was particularly impressive with a “mixology” station where the bartender made each drink so as not to disturb the guests.

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I ordered my usual Grey Goose martini, which to my surprise was stirred, not shaken.  This was actually my first time having a stirred martini and I have to say, it’s not my preference.  There is something about the ice cold shaken martini that I love and this just didn’t hit the mark.  Definitely not a Disney martini which are the best I’ve ever had!

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My Dad and Stepmom arrived and we were quickly seated at a lovely table that over looked the entire dining room.  I managed to take this horribly blurry photo…ugh.

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We were presented with the menu and the 3 different options available.  You can order off of the regular menu, which is a four-course prix fixe meal.  Then there are two tasting menus, the six-course Le Bernardin Tasting Menu or the eight-course Chef’s Tasting Menu.  After a very brief deliberation, we decided on the Chef’s Tasting Menu…when in Rome…

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As the menu states, “Fish is the star of the plate” and that couldn’t be more than true!  I love how simple, yet how complex all of the dishes are, and the fish is always so perfectly prepared.

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As if eight courses wasn’t enough, we started with a ridiculously amazing Amuse Bouche.  From left to right, this is smoked salmon, tuna tartare and a cauliflower puree topped with a Parmesan crisp…oh my!

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I could’ve had a few of the tartares and I would’ve been more than happy with my entire meal.  But alas, there was much more!  First course was Chef Ripert’s signature dish, thinly pounded Tuna over a thinly sliced baguette spread with foie gras and topped with chives, lemon and olive oil.  Whoa…this is AMAZING.  I have an aversion to foie gras and in this dish is actually the only time I’ve had it.  Honestly, I’m not sure how much it adds to the dish because the tuna is so amazing, but I think it adds a richness you wouldn’t have otherwise.

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The next course was a sautéed langoustine (tiny lobster) with truffles and chanterelles and an aged balsamic vinaigrette.  I’m not sure what the sauce on the bottom or what the foam was, but I do know that I could have eaten at least five more of these.

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Now the octopus, I had some reservation about.  B LOVES octopus and I’ve tried it before and have never been wowed.  If it’s not cooked properly, it can be very chewy and texture plays a large part in food for me.  Plus the suction cups always freak me out a bit.  Well, this was unlike anything I’ve ever had.  The octopus was charred and served with a green olive and black garlic emulsion and a sundried tomato sauce that was more like a salsa.  The texture of the octopus was strangely like chicken and I loved every bit of it.  Now if I liked it, you know B was in heaven 🙂

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I’m not a big fan of cooked salmon.  Smoked or raw salmon I love, but something happens when it’s cooked that I just don’t like.  This salmon was just barely cooked, so I did enjoy it although it wasn’t my favorite dish.  Plus when you top anything with black truffles, it has to be good!

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Next up was the lobster.  I had high hopes for this but sadly was disappointed, the whole table was disappointed actually.  The lobster itself was cooked perfectly, but the “goulash” part of the dish did not go well with the lobster.  The strong smoked paprika flavor completely overpowered the delicate lobster.  The potato gnocchi however was absolutely delicious and went very well with the paprika.

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The final savory dish was probably my favorite of the evening.  This was a wild striped bass over red rice and topped with a green papaya salad and a ginger-red wine sauce.  The bright ginger and green papaya were unexpected, but the perfect way to end this meal.

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Now onto the sweets!  Coconut and pineapple are one of my favorite combos so I knew I was going to love this first palette cleansing dessert.  The coconut was a light, mousse topped with a pineapple sorbet.  Under all of that was a piece of a caramelized pineapple and the whole thing was topped with micro cilantro.  YUM!

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The final course was called chocolate-popcorn…I was intrigued.  I’m not a huge rich, chocolate dessert fan so the ganache portion of this wasn’t my favorite, but the salty popcorn ice cream was amazing!  B of course helped me finish the ganache.

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We ordered coffee and out came our post dessert treats.  The salted caramel was by far my favorite…can you tell I like salty desserts??

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Our meal took 3 hours and was an incredible experience.  It’s not everyday that you get to have a meal like this, but that’s what makes it so special.  This one goes in the record books as one of the best!

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What is your most memorable meal?

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