Monday, November 2, 2009


Unlike many fine dining establishments in Los Angeles, a number of fabulous New York restaurants are open for lunch. Not only was this great for our schedule, but it was also great for our wallets. We sampled our first Michelin three-starred restaurants for so much less!
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This was a place after which I'd lusted for a long time -- Chef Eric Ripert's prized restaurant, Le Bernardin.
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The decor didn't impress me. Rather blah like a nondescript hotel restaurant.

But this was no hotel restaurant. No, not at all.

Hotel restaurants don't give you this.
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Doesn't my camera bag look super happy sitting on its own little perch?

Mr. Monkey, however, was not happy about having to wear a suit for lunch. He bitched and moaned all morning. Le Bernardin doesn't mess around. Whereas you can get away with smart casual attire at most L.A. fine dining restaurants, eating hoity-toity food in NYC is a formal affair. Staid. Stuffy. And, if we're being completely honest here, sort of uncomfortable. At Le Bernardin, a jacket is always required for men, even during the day.

Luckily, this complimentary salmon spread shut Mr. Monkey up pretty fast.
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He doesn't even like salmon. He liked this. I liked this. I liked that he liked this.

There was also this tasty bread.
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This shut up Mr. Monkey, too.

During lunch, Le Bernardin offers a three-course meal for $68.
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The menu is divided into "Almost Raw," "Barely Touched," and "Lightly Cooked." If you are ridiculous enough not to eat seafood here, there is also an "Upon Request" section that offers duck, Kobe beef, and pasta.

Actually, "ridiculous" isn't enough. You'd be an idiot to go to Le Bernardin and not eat seafood. This is the marine mecca, my pretties.

Baked langoustine, lemon-seaweed butter.
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Meaty, luscious, and beautiful. So simple. So lovely.

Escolar poached in extra virgin olive oil, sea beans, potato crisps, light red wine BĂ©arnaise.
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Lightly cooked to a perfect tenderness. The sauce was sweet and tangy and unlike any BĂ©arnaise I'd ever encountered. Exquisite.

Crispy black bass, Iberico ham-green peppercorn sauce, celery and parsnip custard.
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Love, love, love! The skin was deliciously crunchy, and eating the sauce was like eating liquid pepper bacon. In other words, awesome. And the custard? Smooth, creamy, and smile-inducing -- a gorgeous mellow accompaniment for a strong dish.

Pan-roasted monkfish, black garlic and Persian lemon sauce, Israeli couscous tabbouleh.
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This fish had a fantastic texture, and the sauce was interesting and unexpected. We enjoyed the pairing with the couscous tabbouleh. Very refreshing.

Dark Amedei chocolate ganache, sweet potato pearls and sorbet, pistachio, palm sugar, vanilla salt.
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Dude. Dude. I wanted to kiss Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis. The use of sweet potato was genius. Very memorable.

Gianduja cream, Oregon hazelnuts, honey, banana, brown butter ice cream.
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More kisses to the pastry chef. A nutty fantasy.

Chinese and Indian green tea with apple and jasmine scent.
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Soothing. Calming.

Fresh-baked warm mignardise.
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Man, even these were heavenly.

Along with our check, we received a menu and a Le Bernardin-imprinted Zagat guide.
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The only thing I regret is not having visited sooner. Consider me a believer.

Next: A walk in the park.


  1. What a deal that lunch is for only $68! It looked fabulous.

  2. Wish I could have joined you for this -- I feel like there aren't enough "layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna" in my life!

  3. I'm amused by the Vietnamese hamachi in a nuoc mam vinaigrette.

  4. I thought love was only true in fairy tales.
    Meant for someone else but not for me.
    Love was out to get me. (nuh nuh nuh nuh)
    That's the way it seemed.
    Disappointment haunted all my dreams..
    Then I saw Ripert's face.
    Now I'm a believer.
    Not a trace. Of doubt in my mind.
    I'm in love ouuuu I'm a believer I couldn't not eat it if I tried.
    Sorrry. Thislunch looks epic.

  5. It's so funny - I honestly didn't realize a restaurant wouldn't be open for lunch till your email.

  6. great photos! lived in the UES for a year and never went day!

  7. I won't lie, I was hoping for a picture of an upset Mr. Monkey in a suit. Oh well, lunch looked wonderful though! I love the special seat for the purse.

  8. AHHHH! I knew it was going to be Le
    Bernardin! Looked awesome! Do they give the menu and guide to everyone or just because they probably saw you taking pics of the food and assumed you were a foodie?

  9. WOW!

    Amazing, amazing, amazing.

    And I learned a new term. "mignardise." I don't think we use that term in flyover country :)

  10. I'm not even a fish fan (although I love scallops, crab, & lobster) and this looks delicious.

    My husband would not be happy wearing a suit during the day either. I'm pretty sure he only puts one on for weddings because his reward is open bar.

  11. This post made me want to revisit Le Bernardin. The 2xs I went, it was kinda meh and dull. It actually looks like they've gotten a little more creative over the years. Also, the bread all over NYC is so awesome - why is most bread in LA so awful??? I still think Jean Georges is my fav place for lunch. And you have to try Picholine some time!

  12. Like Eric Ripert himself, it all looks so wonderful.

  13. Wow. Just wow. There are so many dishes there that stand out to me. Liquid pepper bacon? Sold. Brown butter ice cream? More than sold. This is now on my list of things to do before I die.

  14. Way to power lunch, Rivers! I too would have appreciated a snap of Po all suited up and angry ;-)

  15. *sigh* I have tears in my eye. lol

  16. The only way this lunch improves is if Ripert himself swung by the table. ;) Looks amazing!!

  17. oh man that just all looks delicious. i'm so glad i just ate otherwise my stomach would be growling quite loudly right now.

  18. All the dishes look delicious, but the brown butter ice cream sounds amazing. Wow.

  19. Some of us aren't ridiculous. we're just allergic. ;)

    The thing about seafood restaurants is that I love seafood--fish. I just can't eat shellfish. But chefs loooooove shellfish. Or pouring shellfish sauces over non-shellfish items.

    Sigh. I can't be around people cracking lobsters, let alone eat one. It ruins so many thing for me that I'd really like to try.

  20. The chefs at these restaurants must put a ton of time and thought into designing these dishes. I'm so impressed. Everything looks too pretty to eat.

  21. This is one epic meal. I'm so, so jealous and now hungry at 1:30 AM.

    You know, one of the perks of having a fabulous, photo-worhty lunch instead of dinner is the natural light :)

  22. I don't know what the fuck mignardise is, but I think I want to roll around in bed with them.

  23. LB's lunch prix fixe is actually 200% more than Jean George's. Unbelievable! After a while, all the Michelin'd NYC restaurants look the same. Next time back, I'm hitting up Flushing, no more Daniel/Ripert, etc.


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