Seafood Restaurant in New York, United States: Le Bernardin Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Le Bernardin HeartHeart
Restaurants and bars
New York
Open: Lunch Mon - Fri, dinner Mon - Sat
Price: Expensive

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +1 212 489 1515
Address: 155 West 51st Street
New York, New York, 10019
Country: United States
Food Style: Seafood

By the time we arrived at Le Bernardin we were starting to think that the New York Times restaurant ratings were a measure of how many famous people ate in the restaurants rather than anything to do with food!
We had tried Bouley Bakery (one of the highest rated in New York) and thought that it was pleasant enough but would only rate two hats in Sydney and would be lucky to notch up one Michelin star in France. We had also eaten at Lespinasse where we had one stunning dish but some very ordinary food and indifferent service. A trip to Nobu the night before had seen us eating some pleasant Japanese food of similar quality to that found in half a dozen Australian establishments.
So we walked to the non-descript entrance of this mid-town restaurant with some trepidation.
One look at the restaurant made us realise that we had entered a world of professionalism and good taste. The walls were lined with stunning original art work. Flowers filled the cavernous space and waiters glided purposefully through the crowded space.
The greeting was friendly and professional. We were shown to a cramped table at the back of the restaurant. We were getting used to this in New York where there is a clear hierarchy of tables in most of the top restaurants.
Anyway, we were there for the food and not for the comfort so we enjoyed a small bowl of tangy salmon rillettes while perusing the menu and the very impressive wine list.
We started by ordering two interesting dishes of Spanish mackerel tartare and warm barbecued sea eel. The dishes arrived quickly and our apprehensions immediately disappeared. The tartare was topped with oscietra caviar and was surrounded by a lovely egg and caper vinaigrette made with finesse and skill. It seemed to drag the already well-developed flavour of the mackerel to a higher plane.
The eel had been sautéed briefly and was served with black trumpet mushrooms and chive blossoms. The trumpet mushrooms complemented the rich flavour of the eel, and the chives played their part through contrast.
We followed with a piece of cod that had been roasted and served on a light seafood veloute. The seafood had been cooked perfectly and seemed to enjoy the peas, chanterelles, carrots and cabbage that surrounded it.
We also enjoyed a fanned piece of poached skate wing that was accompanied by beautiful braised endive.
These dishes matched the Jean Noel Gagnard Les Caillerets Cassagne Montrachet that the sommelier chose for us.
We were well satisfied by that stage but had heard that desserts here were good so we decided to press ahead and order. A chestnut dessert consisted of a large glass filled with delicious chestnut ice cream and candied chestnuts topped with a frothy, warm dark rum sabayon. What a dessert! This was one of the best dishes we have had in the past two years and immediately made it onto our list of the top ten dishes.
So, we were converts. This place is truly worthy of the accolades. It is one of the best seafood restaurants we have ever eaten at and, in our judgement, one of the best restaurants in the world.
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