2023 New York Food Crawl - Day 2 " Le Bernardin - Michelin 3* ( Seafood/French ) "

Michelin 3 stars, New York Times 4 stars, La Liste joint #1 Restaurant in the World, San Pellegrino World’s Best 50 Restaurant List……….etc, etc.

Since its opening over 3 decades ago, continuous culinary accolades and awards had been pouring in for this New York gastronomic temple. As such, with such stellar credentials, to most of the gourmands in our party, a meal at this iconic institution has become the most anticipated foodie event of the year, if not in their young life?!

For lunch, two dining options were offered. First, a full blown USD300+, 8 course chef tasting menu that the whole table has to participate in. Alternatively, a protracted, reduced 3 course table d’hote made up the other option. Though it would be enticing to savor so many of Chef Ripert’s creations all at once, however, to Rosy, having an 8 course tasting menu so early in the day was too much of a daunting task. Consequently, the entire party settled for the reduced course alternative.

Our selected luncheon option followed a formidable and challenging format. For the first course, patrons were requested to pick a single dish from a list of nearly 20 imaginative, mouth watering and unique, ‘almost raw or barely touched‘, seafood creations. For the main course, 8 ‘lightly cooked’ seafood and fish masterpieces were offered. Man! So many selections to choose from!..talk about information overload and tough decisions making!..Maybe a nice task for ChatGPT?! Ha!

Our fun yet frustrating evaluation and selective process yielded the following first, main and dessert course options:


  • Salmon Rillette; Sourdough Bread Crisp.


  • 4 Bread Samples ( Brioche, Baguette, Walnut & Raisins……plus
    Normandy Butter )


  • Shellfish Medley
    Uni, Razor Clams, Langoustine, Mirugai, Shrimp Custard, Smoked
    Pork Dashi Broth.
  • Bacalao
    Warm Bacalao Escabeche under a cloud of Saffron Brandade


  • Dover Sole
    Pan roasted Dover Sole, Green Olives, Toasted Almonds, Aged
    Sherry Wine Emulsion.
  • Fluke
    Pan seared Fluke, Twice Baked Mini Potatoes, Urchin-
    Bouillabaisse Emulsion
  • Hiramasa
    Grilled Hiramasa, Roasted Maitake Mushrooms, Bone Marrow -
    Red Wine Bordelaise


  • Baba Au Whiskey - Purple Sweet Potato ‘Baba’, Caramelized
    Pecan, Smoked Okinawa Sugar Ice Cream
  • Citrus ‘Madeleine’ - Vanilla Genoise Sponge, Lemon Mousseline,
    Berry Medley
  • Peruvian Dark Chocolate - Warm Peruvian Chocolate Tart, Tahitian
    Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Corn - Sweet Corn Mille-Feuille, Salted Caramel Sauce
  • Sorbet - Poire William

So! What is the overall verdict? Was the quality of the food superb and distinctive enough to exude the degree of greatness that commensurates with a Michelin 3* plus other preeminent ratings and accolades that were bestowed upon it?

For this, one has to evaluate and critique from the viewpoint of Chef Eric Ripert’s philosophy towards treating and preparing fish and seafood. In short, Chef Ripert loves to adopt a ‘simple’ approach to cooking fish, treating the natural ingredients with respect and letting the characteristic shine on its own. Based on this, ingredients used in each and every one of our dishes were prepared and executed flawlessly and with loving care by the talented kitchen. So, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’!

Accompanying sauces or seasoning, where necessary, were well-balanced and care was taken not to overpower the main ingredients……. Though in some cases, may be a touch too conservative and overly cautious? These were reflected by the ‘too delicate‘ taste profile of the Seafood Medley and the underwhelming, ‘taste lacking’ Bordelaise sauce accompaniment for the Hiramasa dish. On the other hand, the Dover Sole and the Fluke were simply amazing, totally worthy as Michelin 3* offerings. I have lived and worked in Britain and France for over a decade and have had my fair share of well executed Dover Soles. However, this Le Bernardin’s rendition was heads and shoulders above the rest, both in taste, degree of doneness and texture……the best and tastiest ( western style preparation ) Dover Sole I have come across.
In this scenario, the pros canceled the cons resulting in a no-decision!

Dessert courses were one of the best and spectacular collections I have come across ( the other, Robuchon au Dome in Macau ).

Overall atmosphere in my opinion was a bit stuffy and pretentious. Front-of-house a touch dim and under-lite.

Service, though efficient, lacked smile and enthusiasm.

So, in conclusion, is Le Bernardin worthy of its Michelin 3* status? The answer is a reluctant Yes……more like 70% three stars and 30% two stars. As for the #1 rating on La Liste?! This I beg to differ, noting quite a few Michelin establishments I have frequented in Europe and the Orient ( especially Japan and Hong Kong ) offered better overall dining experiences.


thank you for sharing your experience with us Charles!

you’ve nicely summed up the reason we stopped eating at a “fine dining” establishments. I don’t think one should have to adopt the chef’s point of view to determine if the meal was successful. I’d suggest the first question to be answered is “was the food delicious?” and honestly, I can’t really tell from what you’ve written though the food does look spectacular.

We find the affirmative to that question more often in a dim sum parlor or queens thai than in fine dining establishments. Of course what we enjoy is going to be different than what other people enjoy and I’m happy to hear you had a great experience!


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The food was quite delicious in its own special sort of way.

My wife for one loves hers, since her preferences are towards, lightly sauced, lighter, more delicate taste profile food. To me, I always find them only so-so…lacking the ‘impact’ factor.
On the other hand, I am one who prefers dishes with depth and complexity…stir fried over steamed…seared over poached…etc. Hence in this case, I gave the Dover Sole, which was roasted in butter to create a nice crispy edge and crust, then engulfed in mesmerizing buttery taste/aroma and finished off with a complex sauce a huge thumbs up. To her, she found it too greasy though she loves the texture and the perfect timing of the flesh.
To each his own?!

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I’m glad you enjoyed your meal.

But I’ve always felt that LeB was one of the most overrated restaurants in NYC.

If I have more time and am willing to dish out the mega $$$, I would love to give the full ‘Chef’s Tasting Menu’ a try and hopefully taste the full potential of Riper’s creativity and skill…may be next time?

{ Compared to Toronto, we found NYC a touch too noisy and dirty for our liking…why is there so much honking?! Sigh! }

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Try Luthun in the LES.

It’s the complete antithesis to restaurants of LeB’s ilk. No pretention, no corporate stiffness, just down-to-earth intrepid cooking.

Thank you so much for the heads-up!
Food looked bold and creative and price point very attractive! Will definitely put it on the radar screen for my next visit.

I wondered how this LES restaurant escaped my notice. Oh. E 13th is not the LES.

Sorry fat fingers and iphone are not a good mix.

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I’ve been here for a long time. Longer than I expected and I still find it a touch too noisy and dirty.

Totally agree with you on your assessment of LeB. I find the food to be good but in my experience you can get as good or better many other places. The room feels cold. That giant steel wave at then end of the room doesn’t help. There’s way too much staff for my tastes but maybe reviewers like lots of people fawning over them. I don’t need two people to serve every dish. Haven’t been in a while and I’m not itching to go back but the lovely wife has been dropping hints.



Making a note of this place for when I can leave the house and travel again. Thanks!

Hi @THECHARLES - thank you for this thoughtful review! I think you nailed what I’ve read in some other reviews of Le Bernardin, primarily that the kitchen focuses on Ripert’s vision around using technique to let the ingredients speak for themselves (which, for the diner, may not be what they are looking for (wanting more of something), as well as a focus on seasonality. When it works, it works and when it doesn’t, the diner may be left cold. You also echo what others have written regarding the service. In this day and age, I don’t get why service in a restaurant would want to come off so consistently as stuffy. I do want to eat there some day, but I am thinking that if and when I do, I will be eating at the bar! In the meantime, I will continue to cook out of his cookbooks and reverse engineer the dishes on the menu until I can get there!


I haven’t been to Le Bernardin in decades, but I imagine it hasn’t changed much, service included. I didn’t find it stuffy at all, and I was a much less experienced with fine dining at the time, and thus much more likely to be made uncomfortable by a very formal waitstaff. What struck me then, and what I still remember now, was their almost uncanny ability to anticipate. Glasses were never empty. The slightest glance around the room brought someone over in case I had a question. And while I expect my napkin to get re-folded if I visit the ladies room (because I’m demanding that way), I did not expect that someone would materialize as if out of thin air to pull my seat out for me upon my return. I also believe that the servers there respond to the servees. I think they observed that we were casual folk out for a less-casual evening and were looser and funnier than they might have otherwise been.


It’s a remarkable when service is attentive and just right without being stiff or intrusive. The flagship of a very famous “celebrity” chef strikes that balance; of course the cooking was always flawless.

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USHG is that way, too.

We had to resort to search engine to decode.

Oh, sorry. I’ve been typing all day and got lazy.

I haven’t been in a couple of years, but Le Bernardin is one of my favorite restaurants of its caliber in the city.

Agree with @small_h on service not being stuffy, but anticipatory, mindful, and very accommodating.

The food has been delicious each time I’ve visited, with the fish perfectly prepared and the flavor combinations ranging from beautifully done to unusual / something I would not have thought to put together myself, and always gorgeous in presentation.

My first time at both Le B and The French Laundry were before I frequented food forums or read reviews, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. I’m not sure I would have extracted quite the same enjoyment if I had been comparing to reviews and other people’s critiques. My later visits to Le B have been spread over the years; each time I’m comparing to my previous visit rather than any external expectations, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

We’ve celebrated a few birthdays and anniversaries there over the years. One afternoon we just walked in on a whim for someone’s birthday, no reservation, only slightly sheepish that we had the audacity to do so when we knew they were fully booked, and they found a space for us in the lounge and offered us all the dining room menus to choose from in addition to the lounge menu when they heard it was a celebration. A lovely birthday was had, food as delicious as previous visits, made better by the care and attention afforded, and we left looking forward to the next time. Last year, I sent friends who had never been (despite living in nyc for decades) for their 25th anniversary, and they were blown away, even though they have plenty of similar dining experience.

But, everyone’s mileage varies.

I’ve long believed that for many places at this level, they are often competing with diners’ expectations of them more than anything else, so someone’s disappointment can be a reflection of what they expected given all its accolades rather than a direct criticism of anything the restaurant actually did or didn’t do.


Your summation is spot on. Our favorite accommodation was a truffle shaving incident.

“How is that?”

“It smells so good. Just a tiny bit more?”

He doubled the dose.

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