That awkward moment when someone reminds you that you have a blog….whoops. (thanks Jon)
My lack of desire to write has been overwhelmingly more frequent. My time is still consumed with experiencing new and wonderful (or sometimes awful) restaurants, but I suppose none have been worthy enough for me to log back in and write…..until now.
And by “now”, I mean May of 2018 when I went back to New York.
Since then, we have mourned the loss of one of my favorite public figures, Anthony Bourdain. His stories and depictions of life in various parts of the world were always so stimulating and grounded. The recollection of his five senses through all of his adventures and travels were so vibrant and lucid that you couldn’t help but fall in love with everything he had to offer. He was my hero and will forever be in my heart.
Prior to the somber news of his passing, my husband and I were celebrating our third wedding anniversary at the three Michelin Starred restaurant of Tony Bourdain’s best friend, Eric Ripert. If you watched any of his shows, you will have frequently seen cameos with Eric as his bubbly French Buddhist sidekick.
With all his culinary knowledge and experience, in addition to having one of the few restaurants in America with THREE Michelin Stars, we HAD to get a reservation at the highly acclaimed Le Bernadin.
We waited in angst to have our minds blown…and they were…but not in the way we were expecting.
Let’s start here. I booked the restaurant about 30 days out…or maybe it was 60, I can’t recall; the only time slot they had available that fit our schedule was a Friday lunch at 2pm. We landed Friday morning and painfully starved ourselves for this lunch. I was half tempted to just say “fuck it”, cancel, and pay the $140 because I was too hungry to wait…..but I didn’t let my impatience get the best of me. We got there 15 min early, and ended up waiting until 2:45 to be seated for our 2:00 reservation.
They sat us near the bar area during our wait time and served us taro chips until our table was ready. I guess that was cool….they kind of compensated us for our wait time? But why threaten to charge us money for not fulfilling our obligations as guests, if you’re not going to honor our reserved time? #justsayin
Upon being seated, I was able to examine the dining room. It was beautiful. The table settings, the floral arrangements, even the architecture. At an upscale seafood restaurant in the heart of Manhattan with 3 Michelin stars and a $70 per person cancellation fee, I’d expect no less.
With that being said, I expected more from the service. It took FOREVER for them to even give us the menu. And my biggest peeve at nice restaurants was observed: reaching over the guest.
DO NOTreach over my plate to change out cutlery or fill my glass. There is a reason why the tables are laid out the way they are, so you can WALK AROUND them (duh). You should know better than that, Le Bernadin.
Finally, they came around with their house appetizer-a smoked salmon spread. I believe it was actually a Salmon Rillette if memory serves me right. It was delicious….but anything tastes good when you’re hangry and your patience is wearing thin.
Joe and I decided to do the 3 course meal. Had we not had dinner reservations at 7pm, we may have decided on more…..I mean, by the time our lunch service ended, it was already around 4:30 pm.
By chance, we ordered the same dishes for our first 2 courses, and different desserts.
First up was the lobster course. Lobster, pasta,ANDtruffle!? Slam dunk!
The lobster was very delicately poached, the truffle and its cream sauce were immaculately decadent. The pasta was the only wavering element as it was too al dente for our liking. I’m all for having a good bite in my noodles, but I’d prefer a little less crunch.
Next up, the Halibut. Too often, Halibut is overcooked. When that happens, it turns dense and dry. The fish we received was overcooked on its sides, with a very small portion being perfectly tender and moist in the middle. I get that the process of cooking it correctly is an art, but come on guys, this is what you’re specializing in! The broth helped keep the moisture and was refreshingly light. The radishes didn’t make the most sense in the dish, but I suppose it lent a contrast in flavor and texture-a little crunch and earthy notes never hurt anyone.
Lastly, our dessert. The desserts were beautiful and artfully crafted. The “apple” opened up to a surprise of luxurious sweets, while the banana s’more was an elevated play on a campfire classic. They gave us some additional mini desserts as a send off from our meal.
Looking back on this meal, I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant. For the amount of money that was spent and time that was wasted, it really was not worth it. I expected a high level of execution and flawless dishes and it was unfortunately not what I received.