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Le Bernardin tomorrow night - prix fixe or tasting menu?

My husband and I are going to LB tomorrow night (first time for both of us). In your opinion, should we get the tasting menu? Or order from the standard 4-course prix fixe? I've heard wonderful things about the wine program - so am inclined to do the tasting, perhaps with only 1 wine pairing. Do you know or do you think LB would split a wine pairing between the 2 of us (1/2 wine serving each per course)? I love seafood, but am still a little picky (i.e. not thrilled that octopus is on the tasting menu), so that makes me think I should do the prix fixe and choose my own courses. As you can see, I'm torn!! Any advice/thoughts/fav dishes etc would be much appreciated!

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Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

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  1. It's a fine restaurant. Go with the fixed priced menu and ask the wine stew for recommendations. Chat up the waiter, too.
    My simple take is that it's good to get the "lay of the land" so you'll know how to navigate the menu next time. You'll be back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: steve h.

      The tasting menu is very good! Both the skate and octopus are amazing.

    2. When we had dinner at Le Bernardin last year, I did a different tasting menu than the other three people at our table. Because my menu was one course short, I added a course. But there was also one dish on the menu that didn't appeal to me, so I was permitted to choose a substitute from the regular menu. I did ask for advice from our captain, and the dish he suggested was wonderful.

      So, this is my way of telling you not to let that one octopus dish deter you from doing the tasting menu. (Note: I don't eat octopus either). Just request a substitute. Unless, of course, there are other dishes that also don't appeal. In that case, go the 4-course route and select on your own.

      Here are the photos from that dinner. I left the photography to the person at our table with skills far superior to mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulterior...

      3 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        LB is a worthy destination. They will work hard there to make your dining experience equal your expectations.

        edited to add: I love octopus.

        1. re: RGR

          RGR - thanks so much for your advice on asking for a course substitution for the tasting menu. I think we'll go that route. These pictures are fabulous (and making my mouth water)!

          Thank you everyone for your optimistic feedback. I can't wait for dinner tonight!

          1. re: RGR

            the photo's of your courses (and copious amounts of wine!) were really excellent. I live in Dallas and visit NY regularly where my husband and I (he's a French exec chef) love to dine out and especially enjoy lunch so we don't eat or drink too heavily in the evening. the photo's taken by your friend illustrated a lovely meal. Thank you.

          2. First, let me mention how jealous I am you are going tomorrow. I have been many times, and LOVE this place. I did the prix fixe with wine pairing the last time I went and you will NOT be dissapointed. It is a wonderful way to spend the evening and they explain every wine to you as you go along and why it pairs with each course. There is not anything on the menu that you will not adore....Have a great time....

            1. Our LB experience was wonderful, sublime even. We ended up doing the Le Bernardin tasting menu with wine pairing, and I substituted one of the courses.

              We started with cocktails and a lobster salad amuse on a potato chip. Not the best lobster salad I’ve ever had and a little too much mayo, but a nice refreshing first bite.

              From the tasting menu, our first course was the pounded yellowfin tuna over a thin baguette and foie gras. I could eat this every day! So delicate, but robust at the same time.

              The next course was octopus. Although I’m not a fan of octopus, I decided to try it because I had heard wonderful things about LB’s octopus preparations. The octopus was incredibly tender, and the preparation was so unique. The charred octopus was served with a black bean and pear sauce – such an interesting combination of flavors! The sauvignon blanc paired with this course really highlighted the pear flavor in the sauce.

              The next course on the tasting menu was skate. My husband had the skate, and I substituted the langoustine from the prix fixe menu for my third course. I can’t comment on the skate, but the langoustine was amazing. It was served with a tab of foie gras melting over the top, and a lovely white balsamic vinaigrette. This was easily my favorite course of the evening.

              Next up was a striped bass, served with a corn and leek cannelloni. The sauce for this dish, flecked with black truffle, really made the dish. However, one complaint I had with this course was in its service. It was the server’s overpowering cologne. In fact, with each dish that was sauced at the table, we could smell his cologne and it just ruined the aromatics of the food. Note to LB servers/captains: go easy on the fragrance! People want to smell their food, not you.

              Our final savory course was the surf and turf of kobe beef and escolar. The barbaresco that was paired with this course was fabulous. And I was really impressed with the sauce which paired equally well with the tender kobe and the meaty escolar, although I can’t remember the sauce preparation …

              On to dessert. Our pre-dessert was a mascarpone cream encased in a crisp sugary shell on top of an almond cake. The texture contrast of the crisp shell and mascarpone cream was nice, and the almond cake had just a hint of sweetness. A nice “warm up” to dessert, although I found the wine pairing here too sweet for the dish. Finally, we ended with a caramel parfait with 2 liquid pear spheres. The liquid pear was a gush of crisp pear flavor in my mouth, and was a nice acidic counterpoint to the parfait. We also received a passionfruit mousse which actually was my favorite dessert of the 3. This was sweet and tart and creamy, just delicious.

              Overall, the service was competent and the wine explanations by the sommeliers were much appreciated. We’ll be back, but probably for the prix fixe so we can explore more of the menu. We saw Eric Ripert pop out of the kitchen to greet guests at one of the tables – always nice to see that the chef is in his kitchen.

              2 Replies
              1. re: skgchow

                Thanks for reporting back, skgchow. Glad to hear that your experience at Le Bernardin was excellent.

                1. re: RGR

                  I had the tuna app on the baguette w/the fois gras and the striped bass when I had lunch here a few months ago, yes, both were sublime, but I, too, could eat the tuna/fois gras every day, it was a great taste sensation.

                  Glad to hear you enjoyed the experience, it truly is worth every penny