Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dinner at Le Bernardin

What a treat we had last night. We celebrated our eighth anniversary at Le Bernardin, a fantastic New York restaurant that was awarded four stars when it opened in 1986 and has never let go of them.

The service at a restaurant like that is almost as impressive as the food. I think there were as many people working the floor as there were dining and they were all in constant motion, like a choreographed dance recital.

As we were waiting to be seated I saw someone who looked familiar -- it was Arnaud Devulder, whom I once interviewed for a story I did on champagne glasses. He is now one of three sommeliers for the restaurant.

We opted for the 4-course prix fixe rather than one of the tasting menus. This includes two appetizers, an entree and a dessert. The appetizers were divided into 'almost raw' and 'barely touched'. From the 'almost raw' section, we had an amazing, amazing hamachi in vinaigrette that I am still thinking about and a thinly pounded tuna with toasted brioche and shaved foie gras.

Next we had one of the signature dishes, which was escolar (white tuna) poached in olive oil and served with a red wine bearnaise sauce. My husband had a langoustine dish that was sweet and incredible. For entrees we had black bass and mahi mahi. The bass was really, really good -- the mahi mahi was a bit of a disappointment but on balance everything else was so good that it didn't matter.

They gave us a comped dessert for making us wait, which was sort of like a mousse served in an egg shell with milk chocolate at the bottom. Can't explain it, but it was great. When dessert was coming I asked the waiter to send Arnaud over so we could say hello. We had a nice chat and he was really happy to see us and brought us some dessert wine. We mentioned it was our anniversary so next thing you know we had another comped dessert, in addition to the two we ordered from the menu, and a glass of calvados for me and cognac for my husband.

Then petit fours. Then MORE petit fours and the maitre d' came over to greet us. Then Arnaud introduced us to the head sommelier. By this time the whole restaurant seemed to be buzzing around our table. I think we ended up eating more sweets than fish! It was great. Too bad we couldn't meet Eric Ripert, but maybe next time...?