I am a proud foodie, thanks to a very generous upbringing by my parents who in turn relish in the appreciation of a good meal. I happen to be particularly fortunate, as my mom owned her own catering company for years and my dad attended culinary school. Suffice it to say, I’ve developed a rather high standard for food, so I was elated to be invited to lunch at one of New York’s six 3-Star Michelin Restaurants, Le Bernardin.
Familiar with Anthony Bourdain’s rave review in Kitchen Confidential for the Midtown West restaurant, I was ecstatic to dine at this world renown establishment. The restaurant décor is very elegant, and dressing up is a requirement, even at lunchtime. The upscale seafood restaurant follows a prix fixe menu divided into three categories: “Almost Raw”, “Barely Touched”, and “Lightly Cooked”, of which you can select one item from the “Almost Raw” or “Barely Touched” sections, one from the “Lightly Cooked” section, and one dessert item.
Once seated, we were brought a lovely amuse-bouche of Salmon Tartare with Toast Points and offered to choose from a wide selection of fresh bread. For my first course, I selected the Octopus from the “Barely Touched” section. The octopus was perfectly charred with a slight Asian flair, accompanied by a Daikon-Ginger Relish and Yuzu Kosho Broth. This was outstanding. As my dining mates were sharing nibbles of their first courses (such as the Seafood Truffle Pasta above), I was solely fixated on my own plate and did not offer any bites (sorry guys).
For the next course, I selected the Pan-Roasted Monkfish with Squid Ink Fideos and Chorizo Sauce. Again, this dish knocked it out of the park. I was blown away by the delicate preparation of the fish, and the briny notes from the pasta paired delightfully with the slightly spicy flavors from the sauce.
Nearly full and skeptical that any of the first two courses could be eclipsed by the dessert, I hastily selected my final course without much thought. I’ve never been more wrong in my life. This dessert was DIVINE. Le Bernardin’s take on “Tres Leches” was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. The dish was comprised of a Crispy Cashew Sponge Cake Sphere, Caramelized Goat’s Milk Mousse, and Clementine Sorbet. It was, quite frankly, to die for.
As someone who typically prefers a trendy ambiance and moderately priced (albeit delicious) food to a buttoned up fancy-schmancy restaurant, this spot is indeed worth the hype. While my lifestyle will not permit me to dine like this on a regular basis, I hope to return someday and I would highly recommend Le Bernardin to anyone who is seeking an unforgettably sublime culinary experience.