Continuing the amazing tradition of treating each other to fantastic birthday dinners, Mike surprised me this year with a meal at Le Bernadin(on 51st Street near 7th Ave). Le Bernadin is famous for having 3 Michelin Stars and a famous chef, Eric Ripert, who did not disappoint (and was also present that night!)
It is designed simply yet elegantly, with beautiful tall flowers that filled the large space. The bar was nice, yet really seemed to be more of a quick waiting area than a destination place to drink.
The thing that struck me all night was the incredible service. They even gave me a stool for my purse! (Sorry for the terrible shot)
I was especially enamoured with the candle center pieces which were simply wire, water, and a floating candle.
We chose the Le Bernadin Tasting Menu + wine pairings, which in addition to the listed 7 course meal included an amuse bouche of watermelon soup and something I just cannot remember.
But it was such a great little touch to have mini watermelon slices.
Our first course was layers of thinly pounded tuna; foie gras and toasted baguette with shaved chives and extra virgin olive oil. The wine was Bontani Moscatel Seco, Sierras de Malaga, Spain 2009. You’re impressed with my memory? Ha! (They were nice enough to give me a printed menu as we left… like I said… SERVICE!) This was absolutely delicious. All of the flavors and textures just perfectly fit together. And the wine was a great compliment. We started off impressed.
Next up was charred octopus - fermented black bean, white peach sauce vierge, ink- miso vinaigrette, purple basil. The wine was a Savignon Blanc, Paul Cluver, Elgin, South Africa 2008. Mike said that this was sensational. Unfortunately, this had peppers, so they gave me the choice of an alternative.
I chose the stuffed zucchini flower with peekytoe and king grab; “Fine Herbs - Lemon” Mousseline Sauce (from the Four Course Tasting Menu). Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the wine that went with this one… but it was actually my least favorite of the bunch. Great on their own, but just took something away when they were together. The individual pieces were so good that I had trouble determining which was better. I think the Peekytoe just barely won out though. Delish!
Our next course was great. Warm Lobster Carpaccio; Hearts of Palm; Orange Vinaigrette. And the wine was so good that I am currently asking my mom to go out of her way to pick us up some in NJ (the closest place I could find it to NYC). It was a Chardonnay (we loved a chardonnay!)- Patz and Hall Russian River, 2008. This was the best chardonnay I have ever had. Hands down. I was scared it would retail for a few hundo, but I found it for an average of about $50 and on sale for about $35 at this place in NJ. A little more than we’d usually spend, but totally worth it! The dish was perfectly rich with the citrus being a great acid balance.
Next up was a baked wild striped bass with corn “cannelloni,” light Perigord Sauce. It was paired with Rioja, Reserva, Vina Bosconia, Lopez de Heredia, Spain 2001. This wine was also great. And the striped bass was such a perfectly cooked piece of fish. Absolutely fantastic.
It was at this point of the meal that I realized it was more than half over… bummer. Next up was Escolar and Seared Nebraska Wagyu Beef with Sea bean Salad and Eggplant Fries with Mr. Kaufman’s pesto and red wine sauce. The wine was La Croix de Beaucaillou, Saint Julien, Bordeaux 2004. Now that description doesn’t even sound remotely familiar, nor does the picture really match. The escolar and seared beef was definitely there (and WOW was it good… I must remember to order Escolar whenever possible), but the little accompanying items were more like light, flavorful, cheesy curds. I guess it could have been bean salad with eggplant, however, all I know is that it was delicious.
We moved into the the dessert course next. The description sounded quite risky: Basil Ice Cream with Peach Broth plus a tomato and a blackberry. I wasn’t too sure, but it was GREAT. The wine that went with it was a Torrontez Sparkling - Deseado Familia Schroeder, Patagonia. It was sweet and desserty without being sacarin. Delicious!
Our last scheduled course was pistachio mousse, roastted white chocolate, lemon, and cherry. The wine was Chateau La Rame - Reserve, Saint Croix du mont 1999.
The cherries were beautiful.
I always think it’s fun when they have a stuffed dessert. It’s like a little surprise inside. It tasted great, though I can’t say it blew me away.
They were incredibly sweet and quickly realized that it was my birthday. They brought me this.
Which, as you can tell by the next picture, was inedible. (Ha!) I have NO idea what it was. But it was gooooood.
I was a bit bummed, however, that there was no chocolate. But not to be faulted in any way, a miniature dessert course came out right before the check.
A fantastic assortment of teeny pastries.
Overall, this was absolutely a top 5 meal. Nothing completely took our breath away, but the meal was fantastic from start to finish. This was the first time we ever did a wine pairing with our dinner and I was VERY happy we did. The pours were almost full glasses, so we left the dinner QUITE happy. We also got to try many different wines along the way and came out loving almost all of them, with one incredible gem. Well done Mike… well done!
Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10