New York – Le Bernardin

When it comes to Michelin stars, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, the few 3 star restaurants I’ve dined at have been truly unforgettable meals. On the other, I struggle with how geographically concentrated the guides are and the inconsistency of 1 star restaurants. Nonetheless I respect the Michelin rating system and still seek out their recommendations when visiting a city they cover. While in New York City, home to five 3 Michelin star restaurants, I was lucky enough to add one more to my list of memorable meals.

Atmosphere: Le Bernardin by Eric Ripert was located in the heart of Manhattan, blocks from Rockefeller centre, between Central Park and Times Square. Stephen and I sat in The Lounge to take advantage of their City Harvest Menu, 3 courses for $57 USD/person, an incredible steal to get a taste of Chef Ripert’s French cuisine and supporting a great cause. $5 from each order is donated to City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization. The menu is offered only at lunch in the Lounge and no reservations are taken. We arrived 10 minutes before lunch service began and had no issues securing a spot.

The Lounge had about 20 table seats and a row of stools at the expansive bar, showcasing an impressive display of bottles. Modern leather benches and armchairs provided comfortable seating around white square tables. Jackets were required in the dining room and only (strongly) recommended in the lounge.

A 3 course menu is also offered in the dining room for $90/person with a wider selection of dishes.

Service: Service was impeccable from the table side bread basket loaded with treats to the main course being sauced when served. I love when dishes are finished at the table, giving a sense that the dish was just plated and fresh. We were well taken care of throughout our meal and had seconds from the bread basket. I wanted to try everything but restrained myself to just (ha!) 4 rolls. I really liked how diners were seated spaced away from each other, offering privacy even in the tight space.

Near the end of the meal, Chef Ripert came into the lounge to chat with the diners sitting a few tables away from us. We didn’t stay to see if he knew the couple or was making his way to every table but it’s always lovely to see the Chef in person.

Food: Each course of the City Harvest menu had two choices. To start, I opted for the Hamachi Tartare with cucumber and a lemon-citrus emulsion while Stephen chose the Lobster, Saffron-Mussel Potato soup. My hamachi was plated with cucumber slices atop the disc of tartare, surrounded by beads of the emulsion and a side of crostini. Each bite had crunchy, crispy and soft elements with sweetness, acidity and savoury flavour. Stephen’s soup was rich and creamy while being light and incredibly slurpable.

We both ordered the Barely Cooked Organic Salmon with Pea Puree and a Yuzu Butter Sauce. For me, the dish was excellent, Stephen did not agree. The thick rectangular column of salmon was true to the name and just barely opaque up the sides maintaining a perfect silky centre. The peas were sweet and tender while the yuzu butter sauce added acidity and richness. Stephen wasn’t a fan of the combination of dairy and citrus, which unfortunately threw off the entire dish for him. Fortunately for me, this meant I had double. This did affect my overall rating for this post.

Dessert was a selection of Ice Creams or “Tres Leches”, a Crispy Cashew Sponge Cake Sphere with Caramelized Goat’s Milk Mousse and Clementine Sorbet. Ice cream quenelles, heavenly. The clementine sorbet, wonderfully refreshing and concentrated flavour.

Overall lunch at Le Bernardin was a delight and I now look forward to a return visit in their main dining room.

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Le Bernardin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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