Apparently, 2011 was a very generous year in the work realm. Not only did I receive a bonus, I was also a recipient of the CEO award (as well as a couple of minor awards). The CEO award goes to a few individuals who were part of a team that contributed to a project that directly impacted the company’s ability to deliver the best investing experience to the customers. Innovation and measurable results… blah… blah… blah… I could go on, but I’ll spare you, dear reader. The award was monetary so this month I got to reap the rewards and go to, yet another, 3 star Michelin restaurant.
This time I decided on Le Bernardin.
The space was well lit - as you will soon see in the food pictures below. It wasn’t a palatial space but it had a subtle elegance. The formal ambiance sometimes felt a bit on the corporate side, though. In the main dining area, a beautiful painting of a stormy sea by a local artist set the mood for what was going to be eaten.
I figured I’d go with the Chef’s tasting menu that was set at $190. If it were the weekend and I weren’t watching my alcohol intake I would’ve gotten the wine pairing but instead, I started off with a white and ended the tasting with a red.
To start: Sauvignon Blanc, “Winkl”, Kellerei Terlan, Alto-Adige, Italy, 2010
To finish: Rioja Reserva,Viña Bosconia, Lopez de Heredia, Spain 2003
Before the courses began, an amuse-bouche trio was served: Smoked salmon, tuna tartare and finally a lobster bisque.
Now on to the start of the Chef’s Tasting Menu…
CAVIAR - WAGYU
Nebraska Wagyu Beef; Langoustine and Osetra Caviar Tartare
Black Pepper-Vodka Crème Fraîche, Pomme Gaufrette
Charred Octopus “a la plancha”; Green Olive and Black Garlic Emulsion, Sundried Tomato Sauce Vierge
Butter Poached Lobster Tail; Urchin, Scallops, Earl Grey-Citrus Sauce
Baked Cod; Artichoke “Barigoule” Perigord Truffle Butter
Lacquered Grouper; Chayote Squash, Sofrito Broth
Roasted Monkfish; Brussels Sprouts, Pata Negra Emulsion
Seville Orange Sorbet, Plive Oil and Basil
Madagascan Chocolate Ganache, Peanut Mousse, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Lastly, petit fours: salted caramel chocolate, a citrus gelée with sponge cake, burned sugar tart, almond macaroon.
The seafood was amazing and probably the freshest fish I’ve ever tasted in my life. However, I don’t see a need to go to back to Le Bernardin again. It was merely a check mark on my list. If I were to recommend a top notch, 3 Star Michelin restaurant, I would automatically suggest Eleven Madison Park. Le B wasn’t an exceptional or magical experience for me. The service was superb and the staff very professional. But perhaps, that was just it. They came off a bit on the pretentious side and were not engaging. It wasn’t a very warm or inviting dining experience. Did I mention that the waiter took my bread plate before I even finished it? I don’t know what the proper etiquette is but I can’t recall when or if I’ve ever had that happen to me before. Strange.
On a side note, the two older investment bankers at the next table were pretty entertaining. I’m not sure if they intentionally were trying to make me feel uncomfortable but I found their dinner discussion quite amusing. Banker A was telling Banker B of his recent trip to Las Vegas. It entailed gambling, drinking and buying a hooker all on the company dime. Banker A told Banker B that the hooker was great and faked it like she really enjoyed it. According to Banker A, she also gave amazing head. He offered Banker B her telephone number if he should find himself in Vegas. I’ve noticed that the more prestigious the restaurant, the more pompous and/or obnoxious clientele it attracts. Could there be a correlation?
The Financial Industry can be evil but I’m not complaining. It certainly pays for the food.