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Don't know enough to comment on the new latino direction, but your piece on the cocktails (and relative to EMP) is right on with my thoughts.

 

And maybe I'm not the most social creature, but a nice quiet bar is exactly what I want if I'm eating at this level, excited to hear that it's likely there whenever I want it.

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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.

Eating At The Bar At The "New" Le Bernardin: A Report

 

They always served the full dinner menu at the bar at Le Bernardin, so being able to eat dinner there is nothing new.

 

What's new is that the bar used to be strictly a service bar for waiting dining room patrons, and the area around the bar used to be nothing more than couch seating for waiting dining room patrons. In the new makeover, this area has been turned into a "lounge." Men can come without jackets. A new (and attractive) "lounge" menu is served. (At the "lounge" tables, that's all you can get.) They got a good local mixologist, Greg Seider, to put together a cocktail menu. So the area is now much livelier than before (and also much more visually attractive, given the re-do).

 

The bar itself isn't very lively, though. People seem to tend to sit at the "lounge" tables. The bar itself (the only place in the "lounge" where you can get the full dining-room menu, remember) is usually either empty, or sparsely populated by dining-room patrons waiting for their dining companions.

 

So you get what to me is the ONLY downside of eating at the bar here: the lack of conviviality. The barmaid tries to make up for it, but she's only one woman (and one woman who's at work rather than out trying to have a good time). So you're not going to have that great "dinner party" experience that we habitual bar diners love so much.

 

OTOH, you WILL have some good cocktails, and a great LeB dinner.

 

The cocktail program is only good but not great because the list is still something generated by an off-site consultant. Contrast this with the sterling cocktail program at EMP, where the (excellent) guys at the bar are responsible for creating the list. The EMP list is consequently more extensive and changes much more frequently. Nevertheless, there are some excellent drinks to be had at LeB.

 

As for the food . . . well, the "lounge" menu is attractive -- but it's hard to resist that dining-room menu. As I've noted before, the current development at LeB is that Chef Ripert is increasingly adding Spanish and Latino influences to the Asian influences he's always traded in, and (perhaps as a consequence) some of the dishes are much spicier than anything LeB has offered in the past. Given the obvious technical quality of the food here, this is a good thing. It's especially fun to watch Chef Ripert do his famous flavor-balancing thing with this much brighter palate.

 

So, here, the warm crab cake on a tequila guacamole with a pepper-lime emulsion was high-end Mexican heaven -- better even than the great stuff Alex Stupak has been doing at regional nights at Empellon.

 

Even better, though, was the hiramasa in a "sofrito" broth with chayote. Except for the apparently missing lard, this was more a "sofrito" in the Caribbean than the Spanish sense: it was very peppery. I would never have expected something so spicy at LeB. But the Ripert magic is still being practiced: the spicy broth complemented the rich, sweet yellowtail, producing a dish of great precision (even while being very in-your-face).

 

All told, I thought this was pretty great.

 

Great report.

 

Also, I bet this is the first time that Ripper has been compared to Alex Stupak and when coming out on top, there is a surprised tone...made me laugh out loud, but not in a snarky way. Just thought it was a really cleaver compliment.

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Well, it's sort of funny when someone like Eric Ripert goes vernacular. It's almost a relief that he kicks the other "upscale vernacular" guys' asses. What if he didn't? You could sort of imagine that happening.

 

Precisely, which is why it resonates with me. Intentional or not (and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that it was) just thought it was a great line.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today, Adam Platt in New York posts a rare re-review, awarding the re-vamped Le Bernardin four stars, one fewer than it had before.

 

That leaves Masa as the only five-star restaurant in Platt's universe. In the original article in which the stars debuted, the other four-star establishments were Per Se, WD~50, Craft, Babbo, Jean Georges, Daniel, and Aquavit. He has added only one since then, Momofuku Ko.

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This is all you need to know from that review, the rest is the usual bitterness:

 

"It may take time for some of us to acclimate to this racy new look, but happily nothing much has changed in Ripert’s legendary kitchen."

 

Excellent point. Thanks.

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I haven't been to Le Bernardin for ever such a long time. I remember it as the second ever eGullet "event", where I first met (amongst others) the famed Joel Baumwoll :rolleyes: I loved the meal, as I did a couple more in the ensuing years.

 

Now I think I'd like to go again in a few weeks, but has it maintained its game? I'm struggling to find recent reviews.

 

Or is there somewhere better for a top-class fish meal?

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I haven't been to Le Bernardin for ever such a long time. I remember it as the second ever eGullet "event", where I first met (amongst others) the famed Joel Baumwoll :rolleyes: I loved the meal, as I did a couple more in the ensuing years.

 

Now I think I'd like to go again in a few weeks, but has it maintained its game? I'm struggling to find recent reviews.

 

Or is there somewhere better for a top-class fish meal?

Adam Platt gave it four stars in New York just a few weeks ago. He likes it a shade less than he used to, but still considers it the #2 restaurant in the entire city, regardless of cuisine.

 

You'll find other recent reviews on the Le Bernardin thread (into which this thread should be merged). I think the overwhelming consensus is, yes, it has "maintained its game," and there is still nothing better of its kind in NYC.

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