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Recent lunch at Le Bernardin

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First of all, thanks to all of you for the suggestions several weeks ago. I settled (wrong word choice, perhaps!) for taking my dear friend to Le Bernardin for lunch.

I don't have the talent of many of you with food description (and no photos!), but I did want to relay what a spectacular time we had. We've been there before - we had the multicourse tasting with wine pairing there for my 40th birthday several years ago - so I knew the food would be grand. But what I didn't expect was how much I would enjoy the lunch experience, as I am much more of a dinner person.

It was very filling - more than what I expected for three courses, and the desserts were insane! I am not a dessert person per se, but really, these were works of art. I do wish they had more options in the half bottles of wine, but we were happy with what we had. Of course, the seafood was remarkable, with light, yet rich preparations (if that makes sense to any of you). Requests for suggestions were met with very helpful answers. My friend is more of a traditionalist, and I like to try new things, and we were both completely satisfied.

I'd be remiss not to mention the service, which was very attentive yet not overwhelming. We ended up closing the dining room, and at no point did we feel rushed. As wonderful as the food is, the service framed it in such a way that made it even better.

There are so many great restaurants in NY that I would like to go to, and others that I'd like to revisit, but I really can't wait to go back to Le Bernardin again.

Thanks again for the help. I hope that all of your dining experiences are as satisfying.

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

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  1. Thanks for your write up! I've heard lunch has a much more 'chill' feel to it. Can't wait to try!

    Did you end up ordering wine by the half bottles then or did you opt to have the meal paired by the glass?
    JeremyEG
    homecooklocavore.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: JeremyEG

      We ended up getting the half bottle because my friend is not much of a drinker, though it might have been interesting to get it paired by the glass. Next time!

      I would love to hear your reaction. As I had mentioned in my first post on the topic, I'm not much of a fancy lunch person, but it was just such a treat and so relaxing. Of course, the company was terrific; I've known this friend since college.

      I think what also helped, atmosphere-wise was being there in the middle of the week.

      Lunch today was rather disappointing in comparison.

      1. re: drummergirl

        Love the service there, you always leave in a good mood.

    2. Glad to hear you enjoyed your lunch.

      Those desserts are really, really special. Together, Eric Ripert and Michael Laiskonis comprise the best chef/pastry chef duo in NYC. I always look forward to the little basket of warm almond cakes and pistachio financiers that are given at the end of lunch.

      1. Thanks for posting. I also had a wonderful lunch experience there last week. My lunch was a similarly special occasion. My sister doesn't visit NY so often and Le Bernardin came through with exceptional food and service. She ordered the sea urchin appetizer and I had the tuna (the one with the thinly sliced baguette). Then we shared the red snapper for two (24 hours notice required). We ordered a half-bottle of wine as well. For dessert I had the yuzu and she had pear (sorry, I don't recall the exact preparation offhand), both preceded by the scrumptious egg we knew to order, thanks to 'hounds.

        All in all a wonderful experience I hope to repeat again one day!

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

        7 Replies
        1. re: uwsgrazer

          I, too, had the sea urchin, and just about expired with joy. It was such a generous portion and so unbelievably fresh.

          I was thinking about the yuzu, but I ended up ordering the dessert with the bacon ice cream and let me tell you, that was terrific.

          What egg? I didn't know! :(

          Oh, and hcbk0702, you are so right, those almond and pistachio pastries were so yummy.

          1. re: drummergirl

            The "Egg" is Michael Laiskonis' signature dessert: milk chocolate pot de crème, caramel custard foam, caramel sauce, and maple syrup layered in a hollowed-out eggshell, topped with a few crystals of Maldon sea salt. It's a free, bonus pre-dessert that's provided to VIPs and regulars, as well as any diner who asks for it specifically.

            http://michaellaiskonis.typepad.com/m...

            Make sure you get it next time!

            1. re: hcbk0702

              Thanks! Next time, for sure. Though I have no idea how I would have fit it into my gullet this time. :)

              1. re: hcbk0702

                I missed the egg too :(

                I wasn't exactly blown away at my first and recent meal at Le B, but I have to say the desserts were really, really fantastic. Probably the best I've had at a fine-dining restaurant. For me that's one arena where Le B completely won over EMP, which is our absolute favorite restaurant.

                I guess we'll have to return for the Egg sometime! It sounds amazing.

                1. re: hcbk0702

                  hcbk-
                  I'm heading to Le Bernardin tomorrow for lunch, but I am by no means a VIP or a regular. Should I just ask my server for the egg at the end of the second course? What is the protocol for a CH'er getting this egg? Is there additional cost for it?

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

                  1. re: Rich D.

                    Asking earlier is better (at the start of the meal, or before the day of your reservation) since the pastry kitchen makes a limited number of the dessert each day.

                    Happily, there's no additional charge.

                    1. re: hcbk0702

                      Thanks hcbk! I inquired about the egg right at the outset of our meal and my dining companions and myslf all received it after our entree. The waiter asked me if I was in the industry, which I'm not, likely because of this insider knowledge. Thanks!

                      As for the meal - I loved Le Bernardin. The somellier was super friendly and helpful, the service impeccable, and the atmospher classy, while not being overly staid or stuffy. For starter, I tried the pounded tuna set atop foie gras terrine, which was simply dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and lemon. The tuna bites without the foie gras were underwhelming and maybe a bit too citrusy, But together, the foie gras and tuna tasted amazing. For entree, I chose the seared yellowtail kingfish with truffle risotto and black truffle emulsion. The fish was perfectly cooked and the emulsion had a rich, warm mushroom hum to it. Delicious dish on a cold winter's afternoon. We had an Austrian white wine, Der Ott, for around $50, which was fruit forward and balanced. Not too dry or sweet.

                      Chef Ripert was indeed in the house as he perused the dining room later on in our meal. For pre-dessert, the egg lived up to the hype. I could've had a watermelon's worth. Finally, for dessert I had the hazelnut gianduia, also delicious.

                      Overall, a great meal and I would definitely return.

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

            2. Le Bernadin is by far the best fish restaurant in the Western hemisphere followed closely by Esca, which cannot be compared since the experiences are soooo different!
              www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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              Esca
              402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036