This post is long overdue but I was almost daunted by how much there was to say about our epic dinner at Le Bernardin. In New York in September for an annual soccer rivalry match between Olympic Club and New York Athletic Club, seven of my girlfriends and I decided to gear up for an all-out meal at one of New York's legendary restaurants. For years I have dreamed of going to Le Bernardin and was luckily able to convince my friends that they, too, were eager to experience some of the city's finest seafood.
Seated in the center table, the eight of us attracted a lot of attention amidst tables of older couples or heady business dinners. With little hesitation, we all agreed on the tasting menus with wine pairing, the only difference being one of the girls opted for the 8 course and the rest of us selected the 7 course Le Bernardin tasting menu.
And of course, the highlight of the meal was not only that Eric Ripert and team cooked it for us, but gave us a tour of their kitchen and the opportunity to view and question the kitchen activities. His kitchen was an amazingly efficient, sparkling clean, top quality operation with friendly and talented staff. They showed us how they fire and deliver courses with precision, and where they seat frequent diners such as Robert deNiro. Coming from San Francisco where the food philosophy leans largely toward sustainable, local, and seasonal, I was shocked to learn that the menu changes very infrequently and more "at the inspiration of the Chef," but Chef Ripert can command the freshest of ingredients based on his dominance in the restaurant scene and apparently once he creates a dish he seeks to perfect it.
As we wrapped up the meal, we received well wishes for our match, and a hug and a souvenir photo with the Chef himself! Le Bernardin was the dining experience of a lifetime!