It’s been several years since Frankie visited Le Bernardin, Chef Eric Ripert’s 3 Michelin starred restaurant. It’s an elegant interior with lots of wood, windows, flowers and a massive wave art piece at one end. In the daytime, light flows in through the windows but at night the lights are lowered and windows are shaded. Now plexiglas partitions are between the tables and servers are masked. Every table was full and turned by regulars and those celebrating something, but it was still easy to talk at the table. Heavy white linens drape the smallish tables and service is excellent. The menu offers 2 longer tastings, one seafood and one vegetarian, or a 4 course fixed price where you choose from a large selection in each section with an optional addition of a cheese course. Wine pairings are available for the tasting. In the front part of the restaurant is the Lounge with a limited menu. We decided on the Chef’s tasting menu and ordered our own wines.
An amuse bouche starts all meals. It included a roasted potato filled with Romesco sauce and topped with smoked trout roe. The perfectly cooked potato was well stuffed and with that and the roe made for a tasty bit. A thin crisp cracker held chunks of Maine lobster and lime pearls. The textural contrast between the crisp and chewy was nice especially with the pop of the lime. A good bite. Lastly was a soup of English pea and asparagus. In the soup were lots of baby peas and tendrils. It was mildly flavored but tasty enough with good consistency.
The bread tray offered small baguettes, brioche, multigrain rolls and olive bread. I chose the multigrain and brioche. Both were fine but not so good you wanted to fill up on them. Softened butter was in a cup on the table.
The tasting menu started with layers of thinly pounded Yellowfin Tuna topped with chives and underneath was foie gras spread on a toasted baguette. The shape of the fish exactly corresponded to the shape of the plate. It had been sprinkled with a little lemon juice. The tuna was silky smooth, tender and lovely. The baguette underneath gave a good texture component and the foie gras added even more richness. You can see why this one stays on the menu.
In the second course warm Hamachi “Sashimi” was topped with Osetra caviar and micro chives , all in a light mariniére sauce. On the side were rounds of sour dough toast for you to eat it on or to to soak up the lemon infused mussel sauce. The really tender fish went perfectly with the caviar and the wonderfully flavored sauce. It was not overly rich but well flavored.
Next, Tasmanian sea trout was lightly seared on top of yuzu rice in a smoked green tea-nori consommé. The consommé was seasoned with bonita flakes and kelp. The broth was on the salty side but worked okay with the tender fish. It was best when all components were eaten together – then there was a good flavor profile.
Sautéed Dover Sole was topped with toasted almonds, wild mushrooms and fava beans on a soy-lime emulsion. The sole was seared on the bone and then the meat was cut off. The mushrooms were morels and the emulsion had some butter to give it richness. This was the best yet of the fish. It was excellent with the nuts and mushrooms and lovely sauce.
Poached Maine lobster tail on a Guajillo-dry sherry “mole” sauce was served with chayote-baby corn cannelloni. The lobster was fairly chewy but good. The baby corn piece was a weird addition but went with the cannelloni. The cannelloni was stuffed with lobster pieces and very mild in flavor.
Grilled Hiramasa was served with roasted Maitake and a bone marrow-red wine bordelaise. I believe the fish was cooked properly as looked moist but it dry in the mouth. This had a taste I didn’t care for at all and couldn’t eat. The bone marrow made the sauce nicely rich but it wasn’t enough to cover up the foul taste of the fish. The mushrooms were meaty and tasty.
The first dessert was blackberry rhubarb compote with a yogurt sorbet and topped with a hibiscus tuile. This was a good combination of fruit and sweet with the cold yogurt on the tart fruit chunks. The tuile added a bit more texture. It was fine.
Apple was a faux apple – completely edible. A brown butter mousse was inside surrounding the apple confit and an Armagnac Sabayon was alongside. A ribbon of cinnamon and brown butter was outside adding a crisp component and the stem was dark chocolate. This one had a better sweet component and balance of texture than the first dessert. It was very good.
Final treats were a guava coconut marshmallow, a cookies and cream macaron, a rum raisin cake and a peanut butter bonbon. The marshmallow was light but definitely coconut. The macaron was really sweet. The cake was moist and sweet but the bonbon was the best – with a smooth creamy peanut butter filling. It was excellent.
The menu came wrapped in Le Bernardin paper was presented at the end of the meal.