On a day-to-day basis, I generally eat pretty simply.
I enjoy chicken tenders, fried chicken, and chicken nuggets. Sometimes pizza, but usually buffalo chicken pizza.
However, I also thoroughly enjoy the fine dining experience, from the wine pairings to the drawn out meal time that lasts hours. It all turns into a bacchanalian, pleasurable occasion which I’ve been lucky enough to share with people I truly like being around. So it was a nice change of pace to go from my cook-for-one meals at home to getting to eat at Le Bernardin, the top-rated restaurant in the city (Zagat, 2015).
I went with four other people, which included my friend Aline, who eats just as much as I do…actually, she eats more but that’s neither here nor there.
Normally, the tasting courses are on a per table only basis, so the whole table would have to do one or the other. Fortunately, the chef was kind enough to let two of us do do the Chef’s Tasting Menu and the other two do the Le Bernardin Tasting Menu. This was already a solid green flag (or whatever the opposite of a red flag is) in terms of the service. Also, the four of us split the menus because the fifth member of our table was a ten year-old girl who wasn’t really down for the tasting menus, but instead opted to have the Crispy Duck Breast (what a downgrade, am I right?).
There was staff stationed on every corner, which meant that they were very attentive, swift and graceful in their service. The sommeliers were the coolest women ever, which was refreshing and GIRL POWER. It was a very modern fine dining experience, from the interior to the service to the food.
Le Bernardin is known primarily for their seafood, which is my favorite type of food other than fried chicken, so this was quite the treat. The food was pretty complex, with French, Japanese, and even Korean influence (let’s GO).
Although we split the two tasting menus, I’ll just cover the Chef’s Tasting Menu since that was the one I focused on for most of the meal. I’m also going to refrain from going over all of the wine pairings, but feel free to ask 🙂 Without further ado, feast your eyes upon all that is good in the world.
We were welcomed with some Salmon Rilettes, aka salmon spread on toast. Honestly one of my favorite parts of the meal Bread didn’t blow my mind, but I still ate it all anyway. Our first wine pairingTuna –Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio; Iberico Ham “Chutney,” Sea Beans, Lemon-Extra Virgin Olive Oil King Fish-Caviar – Warm King Fish “Sashimi;” Osetra Caviar, Light Marinière Broth. Normally this sort of dish would be a little bit too rich or buttery, but somehow, it was very light and very delicate. 1.) Fun fact: That necklace the sommelier is wearing isn’t just a piece of statement jewelry – it’s for if she were to open the bottle at the table, she would drink out of it to make sure the bottle was ok. 2.) Sake was paired with the above King Fish-Caviar which was interesting on a couple of levels – mixing alcohol = help. and also, it showed the Asian influence which lasted the whole meal Langoustine – Pan Roasted Langoustine; Foie Gras Soubise, Aged Sherry-Verjus Vinaigrette Lobster – Lacquered Lobster Tail; Herb Spring Roll, Lemongrass Consommé. I LOVE lobster if you wanted to know. Also, I thought the spring roll was interested because it represented the Southeast Asian influence. The Lemongrass Consommé also added that Asian persuasion~~~ Monkfish – Pan Roasted Monkfish; Sautéed Cepes, Pearl Onions à la Crème, Paprika Sauce. A beautifully bright dish. I at first thought the Monkfish was Pork Belly. I also loved the Pearl Onions as a nice little detail. As you can see, the wine was starting to pile up… White Tuna – Kobe Beef – Grilled Escolar and Seared Wagyu Beef; Fresh Kimchi, Asian Pear, Soy-Citrus Emulsion. This was one of my favorite dishes. Kimchi is Korean…we’ve made it! And also, the Kobe beef was so tender and just the right amount of without being too fatty. I’m drooling thinking about it. Matcha – Green Tea Custard, Preserved Lychee, Jasmine Ice Cream. So here is another thing you should know about me and about life: tea-flavored sorbets and ice cream are everything. The presentation for this was by far the most interesting and modern. I usually can’t really do dessert wines because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but these were both very good and went perfectly with the desserts.Maple – Maple Candy Cap Crémeux, Maple, Huckleberry Confit. My favorite part of this dessert was actually the Huckleberry confit. Tea as a nice way to chillout.
Okay real talk: I was pretty drunk by the end of the meal. I didn’t want to let any wine go to waste, so I made sure to finish every last drop, and plus, we were mixing alcohols! But the nice thing about getting drunk after a meal like this is I didn’t feel as bad about it because we were doing it in a classy way!!!…I also walked home afterwards, so I got to walk it off…*hair flip*
If I could spend the rest of my life like this, enjoying good conversations, good food, with good people during long drawn-out meals, I would be a very happy fish (what’s the saying? A happy clam? A happy lobster? Unclear…)
Also, please keep in mind that I am aware of how lucky I am to be able to enjoy meals like this. I would never take that for granted. I’m not all just looloolala about this 😛
Anyway, very memorable and beautiful meal. Service, presentation, and taste were all there. That’s another one checked off my bucket list!