Le Bernardin

Restaurants, French Midtown West
23 Love It
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 (Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Daniel Krieger)
Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Daniel KriegerLe Bernardin
 (Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & Tammar)
Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & TammarLe Bernardin
 (Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & Tammar)
Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & TammarLe Bernardin
 (Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & Tammar)
Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & TammarLe Bernardin
 (Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & Tammar)
Photograph: Courtesy Le Bernardin/Shimon & TammarLe Bernardin
le bernardin (Photographer: Cinzia Reale-Caste)
Photographer: Cinzia Reale-Castele bernardin
le bernardin (Photographer: Cinzia Reale-Caste)
Photographer: Cinzia Reale-Castele bernardin
New York dining mores have experienced a seismic paradigm shift in the past decade, toppling Old World restaurant titans and making conquering heroes of chefs that champion accessible food served in casual environments. But Le Bernardin—the city’s original temple of haute French seafood—survived the shake-up unscathed. Siblings Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze brought their Parisian eatery to Gotham in 1986, and the restaurant has maintained its reputation in the decades since. Le Bernardin is still a formal place, with white tablecloths, decorous service and a jackets-required policy in the main dining room. But a recent overhaul (executed by design firm Bentel & Bentel) modernized the room with leather banquettes and a 24-foot mural of a tempestuous sea by Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner. Guests who find the $190 tasting menu or $120 four-course prix fixe out of reach can still experience the kitchen’s finesse in the lounge area, via stunning bar snacks: raw kanpachi topped with beads of wasabi tobiko ($18), for example, or gorgeous scallop ceviche ($18) resting in a pool of grassy olive oil. Beverage consultant Greg Seider’s cocktails, meanwhile, are alone worthy of a special trip: The baroque creations include a Pisco Gaudi ($16)—a lush drink made with the Peruvian brandy, a smoked paprika and saffron tincture, and egg whites.


Venue name: Le Bernardin
Address: 155 W 51st St
New York
Cross street: between Sixth and Seventh Aves
Opening hours: Mon–Thu noon–2:30pm, 5:15–10:30pm; Fri noon–2:30pm, 5:15–11pm; Sat 5:15–11pm
Transport: Subway: B, D, F, V to 47–50th Sts–Rockefeller Ctr; N, R, W to 49th St
Price: Four-course prix-fixe dinner: $112. Six-course tasting menu: $138. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V
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4 / 5

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Seems like an over-priced, celebrity-driven tourist trap within one of the most annoying sections of town. That said, they serve some MEAN salmon!


Wonderful experience - I am very into French, but had hesitated on coming (only momentarily) as I am more meat than fish - but there was no lack of savory, and many dishes felt light and refreshing, while still able to feel filling and complete. The courses evolved from raw to cooked, which was an adventure in dining and constantly kept me engaged. The ambiance was a bit loud (there is a large dining room), but it still kept a cozy, intimate feel, which each table having its own delineated space. The entire wait staff was on point, it operated as a seamless machine, and everyone was warm and inviting. I opted for the Bernardin tasting menu with wine pairings - it was a splurge, and ultimately I thought, well worth it - even given high expectations, I left satisfied and pleasantly surprised by the experience. To start was a small sampling plate, which warmed the appetite, and prepared you for the meal. The bread is also worth mentioning, and I couldn't help going back for seconds (and maybe even thirds). Highlights for me included the preparation - raw plates, half cooked, and fully cooked added a new visual element and texture experience, and helped me to look at what I viewed as common fish (salmon, scallops, bass) in a whole new way, while also introducing new tastes. The sauces were extraordinary (I feel the mustard emulsion may have been even better than the crab, and the shiitake broth, and olive emulsion, also stood out - especially on how well the wine pairing helped to bring out complementary flavors). Dessert was masterfully executed with a sweet clementine sorbet, and a decadent hazelnut praline. The experience overall is something I will remember fondly, and one I would certainly recommend given the clear caveat of price, the necessity of booking well in advance, and the deceptively heavy cream used in most French cooking. The notoriety is well deserved.