HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Dinner at Le Bernardin Bar - lovely! (with photos)

I checked out Le Bernardin last week and literally walked in right off the streets. I had no reservations and I knew the restaurant was all booked up because for the past week, I'd been trying to schedule a dinner for a month away. Since Le Bernardin was only a block from my workplace, I decided to drop in after work to see if they could accommodate me at the bar.

I was greeted by the maitre d' with a smile and was immediately led to a seat at the bar by the dining room manager. The friendly bar tender helped me settle down with a glass of water and some small talk. He reminded me of Matt Damon (haha).

It appeared that while the lounge area was expanded, only the bar served the full dinner menus. The lounge tables looked too small and dainty for a full meal anyway.

I realized my chair was angled slightly oddly and my purse was annoying in my lap. It would get pretty uncomfortable having a full meal like this. I squirmed in my seat for a bit and finally got off to adjust the chair. The runner came by right at this moment and he kindly helped right the chair and pointed out the purse hook under the bar. Ah, much better. :)

The meal:

1. Bread service - sourdough, rosemary and olive rolls
There were 5 varieties of bread available: Parker House rolls, raisin(?), multi-grain, sourdough, and rosemary and olive. The sourdough was delicious, but the rosemary-olive even more so. Fluffy and flavorful, just lovely.

2. Amuse Bouche - red and yellow beets, fluke cerviche, crab avocado potato puree
Light and refreshing, especially of note was the crab avocado potato puree. It was a refined and lighter version of the comforting mashed potato. The avocado was a really nice touch that harmonized wonderfully with the crab and potato.

3.Tuna - layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, foie gras and toasted baguette, shaved chives and extra virgin olive oil
This was the signature dish that I had to try. Appearance, flavor, texture, it hit a home run on all fronts. I'd had a version of tuna and foie gras at The Modern Bar Room before, but Le Bernardin's version was superior. The Modern's rendition featured seared foie and was so rich and fatty that it fatigued my palate quickly. On the other hand, Chef Ripert's tuna and foie was extraordinarily well-balanced. The delicate tuna and the thin layer of foie gras torchon complemented each other wonderfully. Somehow, the foie enhanced the tuna instead of overpowering it with nuttiness. And the toasted baguette provided great textural contrast.

4. Langoustine - seared langoustine, mâche, wild mushroom salad, shaved foie gras, white balsamic vinaigrette
I thought this dish was less successful than the previous. The liver overwhelmed the langoustine and all I could taste was foie foie foie, and more foie. Other than texture, the langoustine contributed not much else to the plate.

5. Red Snapper - bread crusted red snapper, saffron “fideos”, smoked sweet paprika sauce
Crunch! That was the sound my knife made as it pierced the fish's bread-crusted surface. Oh my gosh! I sighed and fawned all over my plate. How did the kitchen get the bread crust so crispy and so beautifully golden? And look how perfectly even the bread crumbs encrusted the fish! Ahhh! And oh yes, the rest of the plate... the fideos were excellent, the paprika sauce was zingy and gave a nice kick. While delicious on its own, I thought the sauce was just slightly too heavy on the paprika for the snapper. I ended up barely dabbing the sauce on the fish and mopped up most of it with bread instead.

6. The Egg - milk chocolate crème brulée, caramel sauce, caramel custard foam, maple syrup, Maldon sea salt
I asked to supplement this item out of curiosity since it was so talked about. The runner instructed me to dig the spoon all the way down so I could scoop up all of the layers at once. Oh jeez! This was just spectacular. The creamy milk chocolate and the caramel engulfed and glided across my tongue and the experience was practically sexual. This was probably the best chocolate dessert I've had in recent memory. Why couldn't Michael Laiskonis double / triple the serving size and turn this into a stand alone dessert? Maybe one day, I'll go crazy and ask for 3 orders of this. Don't think I wouldn't do it!

7. Apple-Cinnamon - cinnamon caramel parfait, green apple foam, candied walnut, red wine caramel
A play on the beloved apple pie and celebrated the arrival of autumn. This was a most lovely dessert, but after getting my mind blown by The Egg, everything else just paled in comparison.

8. Petit Fours - chocolate, macaron, something I don't recognize, and cream puff
What's the center-right item called? It was fluffy and had some sort of baked apple (?) center. I really liked it.

I thought the service was very good. The staff was perfectly friendly and not at all cold and distant. In the evening light, the restaurant looked sleek and contemporary, and felt much less corporate. The centerpiece painting was truly an impressive sight to behold. What an excellent meal. It was by no means perfect, but I'd return just for the Pounded Tuna and The Egg (and order 3 of them!).

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Thanks for the report. Post-refresh, the bar will probably see many more diners.

    "8. Petit Fours - chocolate, macaron, something I don't recognize, and cream puff
    What's the center-right item called? It was fluffy and had some sort of baked apple (?) center. I really liked it."
    Looks like a miniature canelé, which would be very finicky to make properly. But if one guy in NYC is going to get it right, it'll be Michael Laiskonis.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hcbk0702

      Oh, thank you! That canelé was great, my favorite item on the plate.

    2. Thanks for the review. LB is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. It was a pleasure seeing your pictures and thinking about my previous meals there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nmprisons

        It was a great meal. I still think about The Egg now.

      2. Great review. How many seats at the bar?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Riverman500

          There were 8 seats at the bar. It was pretty easy for a solo diner to get a spot, but larger parties sometimes had to wait for seats to open up.

        2. Thanks for the report and the pics! Just awesome!!!! Loved all your descriptors, too!

          1 Reply
          1. re: pizzajunkie

            Thank you. Glad you liked them.

          2. Hi Cheervvisage -

            Do you mind if I ask the total of your bill?

            I would love to treat myself, for my bd, but not sure my wallet can handle it right now!

            5 Replies
            1. re: NellyNel

              Before tax and tip, the dinner 4-course prix fixe was $115. The Egg supplement was an additional $12.

              However, if you go for lunch, a 3-course regular menu prix fixe of $70 and a 3-course City Harvest menu of $45 are available.

              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                Oooh!
                Not too shocking at all - definitely managable.

                The Egg obviously worth the $12 extra!!

                Thanks, so much..
                I think, indeed I will treat myself - you convinced me!

                1. re: Cheeryvisage

                  Huh - I didn't think they charged for the Egg. I thought it was sort of a "gift" from the pastry chef. Perhaps they've changed it recently? I don't remember being charged for it at either of our dinners.

                  1. re: uwsister

                    When was the last time you dined at LB? This might be a recent change. They most definitely charged for it on my meal last week. Incidentally, The Egg is also available on the lounge menu as a stand alone mini-dessert at $12, same portion.

                    1. re: Cheeryvisage

                      It was last winter. Looks like they did change it then. I'm actually happy to know that you can order the Egg by itself at the lounge. I don't think they did that before.

              2. I just read that Michael Laiskonis is leaving Le Bernardin. I hope they keep the Egg!

                http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/10/...

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: peter j

                  Oh, man! Well, at least we have until the end of this year...

                  Incidentally, Serious Eats just did an article on Le Bernardin's lounge menu here: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/1...

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