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Le Bernardin: What's Missing?

dock Jan 23, 2012 12:30 PM

I enjoyed my dinner this past saturday evening but it felt just ok. are my expectations too high? when i go to a 3 star michelin restaurant, shouldn't i be wowed? we enjoyed the tasting menu but there were no standout dishes. all the fish were cooked perfectly. like butter as they say. all the broths they were served in were delicious. but they all were so similar. same cooking method. i expected a fish with a crispy skin. none. there was no texture to the meal. the langoustine was delicious but the foie gras with it was so small i felt it added nothing to the dish. the sea beans with the escolar were minisule and again added nothing. the tuna tartare and the butter poached lobster and the celeriac soup in the amuse were highlights. so was the egg, which we requested. but the salmon was pedestrian, i get tastier fish from whole foods. if you changed the broth from the salmon with the one from the bass, they would work equally well. and again, the meal needed some crunch, some texture. the octopus was very tender but had at least some chew. but i expect when you order 5 fish dishes that they are not all a 1 x 3 piece of sous vide tender fish that have the same mouth feel. btw, the wine steward was excellent and answered many questions.

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

  1. r
    RGR Jan 23, 2012 02:27 PM

    Good point! I should have added obvious "to those who have been there."

    I like fish and seafood though there are certain types I won't eat. I enjoyed my second meal at Le Bernardin more than the first (they were ten+ years apart). I still found the service too remote, and the reception staff is the most unwelcoming bunch I've ever come acroos. But I am curious to see the renovated space in person. I'd be more inclined to go for lunch rather than dinner and do the regular menu rather than a tasting.


    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR
      nmprisons Jan 23, 2012 02:48 PM


      I very much enjoyed my most recent meal there. A few dishes, including the Langoustine dish that OP maligns, were the types of mesmerizing bites of food that you remember years later. Others were simply flawlessly executed fresh fish, and that is rare these days, even among seafood restaurants (ahem, marea). It is certainly worth another try, especially because you and Mr. RGR enjoy Oceana.

      (Ugh! They deleted my whole post, rather than just the stuff about the guessing game.)

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

      1. re: nmprisons
        RGR Jan 23, 2012 03:46 PM


        Thanks for your input. As I said, I am inclined to return, unlike ellenost who has no desire to do so. Our last time there was in the spring of 2010. I was bowled over by the famous known tuna with the foie gras. And there were other plates that were also quite wonderful though my memories of those are hazy. I did make one mistake by having the squab. Quite disappointing. Next time, I'm sticking strictly to fish and seafood.


        1. re: RGR
          foodwhisperer Jan 23, 2012 04:35 PM

          I have been to Le Bernadin 3 times. Once during the first year they opened. At that time I thought it was absolutely the most amazing seafood restaurant , anywhere. Lutece at that time was my favorite other restaurant. The second time was perhaps maybe 5 years later and it was still very good. The last time was 2 years ago, I found the fish not cooked properly. I found the responsiveness of the wait staff to be good at all. The sommelier did not know their job. When I taste a bottle of red wine ( big Bourdeaux) that is over $600 a bottle, I expect the temperature of the wine to be close to 64 or 64 degrees F. this wine was around 50 degrees. Ridiculously too cold, the sommelier said " you're right" and continued to serve the wine. I did not wish to start a scene on my birthday so I just accepted the stupidity. I have not been back to Le Bernadin, nor do I plan to. Acqua Grill and Oceana make good enough fish for me.

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

    2. kosmose7 Jan 23, 2012 01:03 PM

      I felt the same when I went there after the recent renovation.

      1. Cheeryvisage Jan 23, 2012 01:30 PM

        If you're talking about the salmon dish under the barely cooked section, I have to disagree. That dish was the best fish I had in 2011. I did not enjoy the crispy black bass dish though. Completely un-crispy and ordinary.

        1. p
          peter j Jan 23, 2012 03:03 PM

          While I am a huge fan of Le Bernardin, I have to agree that the tasting menu offers very little textural contrast and that the food is probably best enjoyed as a four course prix fixe.

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