Le Bernardin, After Renovations, Even More Fabulous
Last year, friends and I celebrated a September birthday at Le Bernardin, one of the most awarded restaurants in Manhattan. It is only one of five restaurants in the city that is three star Michelin rated. It has held The New York Times four star rating longer than any other restaurant. This year it was #18 on the list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants, third after Thomas Keller's Per Se (#10) and Daniel Boulud's Daniel (#11) also in Manhattan. The awards are well deserved. The restaurant exemplifies the best of upscale New York's fine cuisine.
Making it a tradition, this year we decided to have a second birthday celebration there. We were especially intrigued to see how Chef and co-owner Eric Ripert with fellow owner Maguy Le Coze updated the restaurant's menu and decor to keep it current and trendy after closing for a month's renovations. When we arrived, we were thrilled to see Chef Ripert in the dining room and, as is typical of his kind and gracious self, he consented to a photograph in his studio, the kitchen.
From the September 6, 2011 New York Times article by Florence Fabricant, we had learned that the dining room, designed by Bentel and Bentel had been modernized away from the more conservative wood, exemplified by the sleek steel strips lining one wall. Fashionably youthful and elegant, the seating included, stylish curved banquettes. The four of us were seated at one of these, just to the left of an amazing 24 foot rendering of a tempestuous sea. As I enjoyed my pre-fixe meal, every now and then I found myself glancing at the painting "Deep Water No. 1" by Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner which reminded me of the ocean's mystery and power; the work was a paean to the exceptional fare we were enjoying.
I am not a culinary expert or food critic like Sam Sifton. However, I do characterize myself as a foodie, interested in spectacular food taste and presentation. I usually prefer organic produce and fish that is not farmed. Though I do not eat much meat or poultry, on the occasions when I do, it must be from animals that are grass-fed and free ranged or I am not interested. Familiar with Eric Ripert's food artistry from TV shows, reviews of Le Bernardin and my previous dining experience there, I know that he selects the highest quality fresh food and organic produce as the foundation around which he shapes his dishes. For example after the March earthquake in Japan and the subsequent radiation leakage, I remember reading a New York Times article that Chef Ripert was using a geiger counter to scan all the fish served at the restaurant to make sure none of it was contaminated. This shows his remarkable ethics and standards as a chef who is flexible, ready for anything and willing to grow and excel at his craft.Continued on the next page