THE EATBEAT: Elegant food, impeccable service define Le BernardinIt was an unforgettable experience because of the elegant food and impeccable service. We came away marveling at the highly professional serving staff, the sommelier who described the wines he paired with each course and the chefs in the kitchen.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
NEW YORK CITY
We had dined at the Dovetail — one of New York City’s finest restaurants — the first evening we were in the city. With friends, we had a wonderful time visiting and tasting.
We went to one of New York City’s Shake Shacks in Times Square the second evening. Ryan Babb of Forum Communications, who accompanied me on our whirlwind tour, thought we should see where real down-to-earth people eat.
We took a menu handed out on the sidewalk and stood in line about 20 minutes before we could even get inside. We enjoyed the experience. And actually the burgers were very tasty. They had the good flavor that comes only with a little fat. We are not sure if they contained pink slime that has hit the news waves of late. And we didn’t ask.
Then, there was a lunch at the exclusive Crown on Madison Avenue. There, the food seems unexcelled and the ambience both warm and sedate.
We approached Le Bernardin with awe because of its reputation as THE top restaurant in the city. It is a longtime holder of the top-star ratings by Michelin Guide. We spent almost four hours in this famous restaurant, which has its origins in France. (Our reservation was scored by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.)
It was an unforgettable experience because of the elegant food and impeccable service. We came away marveling at the highly professional serving staff, the sommelier who described the wines he paired with each course and the chefs in the kitchen.
We were surprised when Eric Ripert, owner of Le Bernardin, invited us into the kitchen. Usually when I visit restaurants, there is no effort to show off the kitchen.
This was a dazzling scene with pastry chefs and sous chefs in stiffly starched bright white uniforms busily engaged in their work.
On Thursday, we were treated to the chef’s tasting menu. First course: caviar-waygu. Second course: octopus. Ryan said he had never eaten it before. I nodded and said, “Neither have I. Dig in.” Servings were light and inviting.
The sommelier, Aldo Sohm, stayed with us, describing in a delightful witty way of how he paired each course with the right wine. It was the kind of leisurely meal with small, very dainty servings. We were comfortable.
Sohm really made the meal an enjoyable adventure. He has been voted Best Sommelier in America — and indeed the World. He is witty and wise about wines and explained how each wine blends with the food. He poured sipping-size portions. The wine did not overwhelm the tastes we experienced.
Waiters were on hand with a variety of breads, and there was softened butter with a dash of sea salt in small metal containers.
The courses kept coming. There was a sea medley then codfish. We ate monkfish with Brussels sprouts. Then, there was a Seville orange sorbet with olive oil and basil.
The final course was called chocolate peanut. This was a Madagascan chocolate ganache, peanut mousse and salted caramel ice cream. Each was bite-size — a medley of wonderful tastes. When the salted caramel ice cream drooped a little, the waiter took it out and replaced it.
While we came ready to be served and pay the cost, we realized the staff was aware of our mission of testing, tasting and writing. We received special attention, but I think the experience would be as good for all customers.
The diners were middle-age and older, dressed in fine clothing and enjoying their conversations over fine food. We found the ambience appealing.
There were special touches I liked about Le Bernardin:
• At the beginning of the meal, the waiter asked if we had any food allergies.
• We noticed small, little tables where women can place their purses. No need to sit there wrestling with a bag all evening.
When, at length, we finished this long, leisurely meal, we talked of walking back to our hotel. Then, we thought twice about it and decided we wanted to ride.
There are not many minuses at Le Bernardin. That, obviously, is why it is considered tops in the Big Apple.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or call (701) 772-1055.