155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Visited: January 3, 2013
Spent: ~$73 per person, including tip & tax
Hits: Lobster en brioche
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Le Bernardin is one of the top restaurants in New York City, and as a three star Michelin restaurant, it definitely does not come cheap. Luckily for those who either don’t have $$$ to splurge or can’t get reservations in time, they have a lounge area (walk-ins only, so arrive early!) with an a la carte menu and also a $45 City Harvest prix fixe lunch menu (with $5 donated towards City Harvest).
My friend Pratima and I came here intending to get the City Harvest menu for lunch, but in the end decided to order off the a la carte menu instead because there were just so many more better-looking things to choose from. The waiter informed us the dishes were small-ish, tapas size plates so we decided to get two each, as to not break the bank over lunch alone.
My first dish was the lobster “en brioche” ($19) – little bits of lobster in a bowl made of brioche, finished off with a piece of truffle. It was wonderfully warm, buttery, and perfect for a freezing cold January afternoon. I could’ve easily eaten like three of these.
My second dish was the kanpachi ($18), a tartare served with wasabi tobiko and a ginger-coriander emulsion. Tartares are among my favorite kinds of raw food (tied with ceviches; I can’t decide which I like more) but this one had a bit too much wasabi taste for my liking. The tobiko layered on top gave it an interesting, crunchy texture, but I didn’t enjoy this dish as much as the lobster.
Here are some pictures of Pratima’s food: the scallop ($19) – Peruvian style scallop ceviche, and the tuna tartare ($18), which I tried a bit of and actually liked more than my own tartare.
As a big dessert fan, I especially love trying desserts at fancy restaurants where their presentation makes them as fun to photograph as they are to eat. We both ordered something off the dessert menu, which didn’t have any prices listed… and that ended up being a very bad call.
My chocolate-popcorn was $22 – biggest sticker shock I have ever received for a dessert, even more so because it cost more than either one of my lunch dishes. The essence of the plate was the chocolate ganache, which came topped with caramel popcorn and a candied peanut, and crusted with a thin layer of hazelnut crispiness on the bottom, adding some much-needed crunch to the very rich chocolate. There was also a small scoop of popcorn ice cream on the side, which didn’t taste much like anything after the chocolate. Overall, it wasn’t bad, but worth the price tag? Definitely not. (I suppose part of the cost comes from the labor of making it look all fancy…)
Pratima ordered the hazelnut-marshmallow ($22) – light chocolate ganache, vanilla marshmallow, and hazelnut ice cream.
Bottom line: The lounge menu is a nice sampling of Le Bernardin’s menu in a slightly more casual setting, but I’d want to try the dining room menu for sure! (Someday… when I have the money…)