Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Le Bernardin and Bemelmans Bar

Dave took me to Le Bernadin for my 30th birthday. We realized en route to the table that there was Le Bernadin staff everywhere. I was pretty nervous when we sat down - I had a feeling we were going to be watched pretty closely. But we had a cocktail, and the uneasiness melted into the sensation that we were actually in one big Le Bernadin hug, and that the staff was going to take really good care of us. It was an excellent cocktail.

We ordered the tasting menu with the wine pairings. The flavors at Le Bernadin were clean and delicate, but perhaps a bit too muted. The real accolades belong to Le Bernadin's impeccable technique. That which was supposed to be crispy was perfectly crispy, the dish components were cut incredibly precisely, and all the seafood was cooked exactly as it was supposed to be cooked with not a surplus moment under the heat. I have never encountered this kind of execution with food. Eric Ripert runs a tight ship.

Even better were the wine pairings. You could tell which of the staff were sommeliers because they had silver necklaces with these large silver medallions. The sommelier we had was very nice, and she led us through a variety of wines that were classic examples of their type. The whole experience was actually pretty incredible, but the wine I loved the most was the chablis. I learned that I am a huge fan of minerally whites.

At the end of the meal, there was one awesome moment when one of the staff came by with a second set of petit fours by accident. There was a glitch in the flawless machine that was Le Bernadin! She grimaced when she found out there had been a miscommunication, paused for a microsecond, and then resolutely gave us the second set anyway.

We felt a little shy about taking pictures in such a nice restaurant. But we snuck one of this painting:

We love the dog!

After dinner, Dave and I met up with my brother at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. The bar was beautiful; there were murals all along the walls and this feeling of old-time swankiness. I felt right at home in my cocktail dress. The cocktails were excellent, as was the live jazz. It was the perfect place to hang out, relax, and end the evening.

Le Bernardin
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 554-1515

Bemelmans Bar
35 East 76th Street
New York, NY 10021
(212) 744-1600‎

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