Sorry there haven’t been too many San Diego posts lately – I’ll get to them, I promise! But for now, I want to recap my first Michelin 3-star restaurant experience at Le Bernardin, from my New York trip this summer.
We were deciding between a lunch at Le Bernardin or Jean-Georges and eventually settled on the former, based on one of S’s good friends’ recommendations (and the fact that it’s a lot cheaper). There is a dress code, and “gentlemen” were expected to wear a coat – of course, S didn’t bring a coat there, but fortunately they provided him with one for the meal.
The lunch tasting menu is a three-course prix fixe for $80. We didn’t realize this before arriving, but the menu consists entirely of seafood. The only non-seafood item here is a kobe beef, which is on the Chef’s Tasting Menu. There are two sections to the 1st course – “Almost Raw” and “Barely Touched”. The 2nd course consists of “Lightly Cooked” fish items, and there was a duck and whole red snapper that were available by request only (
Shortly after ordering, we were brought a complimentary appetizer, a house-made salmon rillette with thinly-sliced baguettes.
The salmon rillette was absolutely delicious – I was initially skeptical of cooked salmon (yes, I’m one of those people who only like salmon in raw form), but this was really, really good. The texture was smooth and velvety, and the flavor was savory yet light. I could have eaten this for my entire meal but had to find some restraint.
Our friend A chose the “Scallop” for her first course – the scallop was presented raw, then a brown butter dashi was added at the tableside to just barely cook it. I had a bite, and it was just wonderful. The scallop was so sweet and tender, probably the best scallop preparation I’ve ever had. My friend commented that towards the end, though, the broth overpowered the sweetness of the scallop a bit, but she agreed that it was beautifully cooked.
S chose the Snapper from the “Almost Raw” menu section for his appetizer. It’s “flash-marinated” and served with a citrus-jalapeno vinaigrette. The fish was delicate and tasty, and had a wonderful texture.
I chose the “Almost Raw” Hamachi, which is also “flash-marinated” (I’ve got to figure out what that means) and served with slices of rice crispies! I really enjoyed the textural contrast between the soft slices of hamachi and the rice cracker. The sauce was a gochujang sake vinaigrette – I couldn’t really taste the sake, but I was glad that the gochujang was light enough to not overwhelm the fish.
I had been perusing the cocktail and drinks menu since before we ordered, and finally decided on their version of the Manhattan – since the restaurant is located on 51st St, it was named 51st St. Manhattan. It was made with Michter’s Rye, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Amaro Nonino, benedictine, and Angostura bitters. The Amaro Nonino and benedictine gave this drink a bit of an herbal undertone. It was a pretty strong and quite enjoyable drink.
For the entrée course, A chose the “Snapper” – a different preparation from the appetizer version. …