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Very good $48 prix fixe lunch at Le Bernardin. We had ordered the 24 hour advance notice red snapper (for two people). It is cooked in a salt and breadcrumb crust; presented dramatically, tableside, first in the crust, and then with the crust removed. At this point, the fresh herb steam is overwhelmingly appetizing. The third time it appears, it has been lifted from the bone, plated, and garnished with fresh rosemary and thyme, very thin strips of lemon (or orange?) zest, and crunchy garlic cloves. It is lavishly dressed with EVOO, of a quality good enough to drink. The fish was good, and the garnishes flavorful; on sight, I thought there was too much olive oil, but it worked very well. A side of vegetables - carrots, beans and broccoli - was surprisingly compelling, drizzled as it was with butter and lemon juice.

 

From the appetizers I chose an alleged "bouillabaisse". No such thing, as was obvious from the menu description, but it was good. A very loose crab cake dissolves as the waiter pours a brick red lobster and saffron broth over it. Other ingredients were chubby fresh shrimp, slices of fingerling potato colored bright yellow by the saffron, and little croutons.

 

I chose a dessert which was too sweet for me - my fault; a bombardment of milk chocolate and ice cream and nuts and sticky stuff. Value was enhanced by the full panoply of trimmings: a generous salmon rilettes amuse with toast, a choice of breads, hot madeleines with the coffee. The house champagne by Deutz was disappointing, but the sommelier's recommendation of a white Graves, Chateau Bel-Air (2000 or 2001?) was perfect. The drinks pushed the check up to a ton, but champagne isn't obligatory, and the basic food cost is very reasonable.

 

Service was good, until they got lazy about collecting our money. This remains one of my favorite rooms among Manhattan restaurants - full, but nevertheless tranquil.

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Very good $48 prix fixe lunch at Le Bernardin. We had ordered the 24 hour advance notice red snapper (for two people). It is cooked in a salt and breadcrumb crust; presented dramatically, tableside,

If I remember corectly: milk chocolate crème brûlée on the bottom, maple caramel on top finished with caramel foam and maldon salt

I guess I'd lend mine to Champale. After all it is the champagne of ales*.       *Ales in this case referring to malt liquor of course.

This is top tier dining in these parts and the room exudes an understated whiff of the renewed vibrancy and power that has evolved over the past twenty years to become modern New York City. It is palpable and classic. A real treat and a worthwhile stop for anyone, not only interested in food, but in the elegant and powerful midtown executive/insider scene that provides some of the real background hum to the music of life in this city.

 

I very much liked the room. Soft wood tones and a welcoming staff. Service was muted, but correct and never rude. Certainly on a par with Bouley. I also found the table service competent throughout, though I did get the impression that one of our captains wished he were somewhere else. Chef Ripert stopped by the table before we started and greeted all warmly. I was lunching as a guest of a couple of dear food friends and it was obvious that we were expected.

 

The "Salmon Salad" placed on the table was quite homey, in direct contrast to the lux surroundings.

 

A Hamachi Tartar first course. This topped with green Wasabi Tobiko and ginger coriander emulsion. I'll go so far to say that this was my favorite dish. Good crisp flavors. Every ingredient in balance, both in flavor and in texture.

 

On the Urchin and Caviar dish which followed (containing scallop and clam), I liked the flavors very much. It was a very small portion. Two small bites really, though the Iranian Osetra Caviar was generous. I thought the Uni was muted, but I thought this rather worked.

 

On the Tuna (Juniper crusted tuna on peppers and eggplant compote; meyer lemon and olive oil emulsion), although the menu says eggplant, I don't recall it. Nor did I get much juniper. It was pretty prosaic. Quality (which was impeccable) aside, it wasn't anything I haven't had in any number of restaurants, here, in SF or even NJ. Having said that, the dish was tasty and certainly well executed.

 

Regarding the Lobster ( Steamed maine Lobster with Corn and Chanterelle Stuffed Cabbage, Bacon Butter Sauce), I thought the dish a little too minimal. A half lobster tail, a claw and the stuffed cabbage sitting on a plate. The waitstaff poured a bit of the bacon beurre blanc (as it was described) over the dish. The half lobster tail that I had on my plate was pretty tough. My wife thought hers was also. The claw looked nice but still contained the cartilage (?). The beurre blanc certainly sounded interesting, but was mitigated by the distractions of the lobster. The mushroom and corn wrapped cabbage fit nicely.

 

The black bass was pleasant (Crispy Chinese Spiced Black Bass in a Peking Duck Bouillon Scented with Black Trumpets and Enoki Mushrooms). Again, no wow. A piece of black bass set in the center of a bowl. Some enokis on one side, some trumpets d'mort on the other and a vaguely asian tasting clear duck broth poured on top.

 

Dessert was thin milk chocolate wafers with an array of small quenelles of cold cremes and ice creams sandwiched in between. All carrying a chocolate or chocolate and nut motif. The plate decorated with a swirl of good caramel. I liked it, but getting to eat such a dessert is a real treat for me.

 

 

The wines were uniformly very good. Standouts for me were the Pommard, Domaine Robert Ampeau '90 (served with the bass) and the ultra delicious Rivesaltes "Terroir du Crest et de L'Agly" '45 with the dessert. I got to drink two ponys of this. Yum!! Wine pours were quite generous.

 

Although this sounds critical, I had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch and was able to easily transcend the liitle critical details. I reccomend it. In fact, I think it is an essential restaurant and would gladly return.

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A good place for lunch: civilised room, conveniently located, reasonable $49 prix fixe, and if I'm going to an upscale restaurant for dinner, I confess the thought of meat usually crosses my mind.

 

Blackened redfish came as a tournedos, a meaty medallion, not very black but zingily spiced. I'd like to say the goat cheese yoghurt sauce was drizzled over it tableside, but it sort of fell in globs from the jug - inelegant but appropriate. :lol: The fish being meaty, I expected the accompanying truffled Napa cabbage roll to be some sort of hot, stuffed cabbage deal, but it was much like a summer roll - refreshing but with truffle flavors muted at best.

 

Poached skate. First rate fish, neatly cooked to just the other side of rare. A julienne of carrots and red peppers, and a sea of foamy, frothy, orangey, bisquey sauce, suffused with the flavor of lobster shells (cardamom and harissa too, the menu says; also, the menu mentions marinated green papaya - I can't remember that on the plate, but my head is not as clear as it should be).

 

Scoffed some creamy hazelnut and caramel concoction for dessert, sandwiched between wafers. Maybe my fellow expert can help out on the charming "eggs/humor" pre-dessert - I remember what it looked like, but I've gone blank on the main flavor.

 

A Miner Family Viognier (2000?) was a surprisingly full-bodied, flavorful glass of peaches and cream. Waiting in the bar, I had requested a glass of the house champagne, knowing there was one. The server said, "I'll bring you the list." I pointed to the Cuvee Le Bernardin and said, "A glass of the house champagne, please." Maybe he thought I was going to trade up to a magnum of Krug. <_<

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I was treated to a birthday dinner here last week,and this was definitely an Uptown hoity toity dinner...and I quite enjoyed it.I thought that the room was lovely,being a sucker for nice wood paneling.The service was professional,a little stiff and phoney for my taste,but that's ok;looking at the crowd around me,it fit...And on to the fish.I had the chefs' tasting menu,wanting to try a lot of different fish preparations.They sent out two teeny amuses;salmon tartare,and the teeniest,most delicate fried calamari.The tuna with wasabi,sea urchin and lobster with caviar,halibut,more lobster.The mind reels..Lots of rich sauces,though not a vegetable in sight.My dining companion sent one dish back that we didn't like,a scallop carpaccio[the life was pounded out of it,and the acidity of the lemon was the only evident flavor-they sent us some wonderful salmon instead].Then dessert-o-rama;Michael Laiskonis has been the pastry chef here for a month or so,and it was nice to meet him,and see what he's up to;an amuse of coconut tapioca,guanabana,and mango was my favorite; tart,creamy and wonderful...followed by the eggshell with caramel foam,salt,and ...chocolate?.A millefeuile of chocolate,and nut pastes,a chocolate and raspberry cake...and very delicate,very delicious petit fours.What impressed me most about the food was its' delicacy,whilst delivering strong flavor.A different,fun experience...

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Michael Laiskonis has been the pastry chef here for a month or so,and it was nice to meet him,and see what he's up to;an amuse of coconut tapioca,guanabana,and mango was my favorite; tart,creamy and wonderful...followed by the eggshell with caramel foam,salt,and ...chocolate?.A millefeuile of chocolate,and nut pastes,a chocolate and raspberry cake...and very delicate,very delicious petit fours.What impressed me most about the food was its' delicacy,whilst delivering strong flavor.A different,fun experience...

Chef Laiskonis earned a huge following at Tribute, I suspect he'll be able to carry on that reputation in "the big time." When I was on eGullet, he was a tireless marketer for innovative pastry and presentation.

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That eggshell pre-dessert has been much discussed, delicious as it is. The caramel foam sort of substitutes for the white of a soft boiled egg (although it's not white of course), and there's a darker, richer smudge which stands in for the yolk. Someone said to me - Cabby, I think - that it was chocolate. Yet I am pretty sure our server said it was a dark maple syrup. Of course, it's perfectly possible that the kitchen does two versions.

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