I had a good-plus lunch at Le Bernardin. The price was reasonable, at $108/person with tax and tips included. The three-course prix fixe is $48/person during lunch, and includes a number of dishes on the higher-priced dinner menu. Service was appropriate.
A salmon spread was brought for certain bread slices, although no amuses were furnished. The spread was slightly fishy for my tastes.
Thinly Sliced Geoduck Clam Simply Marinated with Wasabi-Lime Dressing, with a glass of Deutz.
The geoduck was good. Presented in a loose circular mound, the geoduck was marinated in a bit of olive oil and wasabi (but with some consistency). Nice and fresh and allowing the geoduck flavors to be communicated. I liked this dish, and I generally like geoduck as a product.
The restaurant dubs the Deutz champagne by the glass "Cuvee Le Bernardin", but it's just the regular Deutz Brut. When I asked one of the maitre d' level personnel whether the Cuvee Le Bernardin was similar to the Brut or the Blanc de Blancs, he inaccurately told me the latter. In fact, it's just the Brut with a little sticker referring to Le Bernardin on the front (unlike other restaurant cuvees, like Jean Bardet's private label champagne or the Lucas Carton Cuvees made by Vranken, which has the restaurant name on the label).
-- RED SNAPPER
Whole Red Snapper Baked in Rosemary and Thyme Salt Crust, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a Casserole of the Days Market Vegetables (24 Hours Notice; Two Person Minimum)
This was a dish that my dining companion and I had been interested in sampling for some time. It requires two people, and, together with the ex-Delouvrier specal chicken dish, had been featured in an old NYT article describing dishes requiring advance notice to the applicable restaurants.
A large whole red mullet is rubbed/stuffed (?) with herbs that included rosemary and thyme. Skin/head/tail on, and with lemon slices placed underneath its gills. Before cooking, it is encased in a thick crust that includes breadcrumbs and some type of salt. The resulting item is brought to the diner with the crust slightly cut and the whole fish still inside. Very strong rosemary aromas emanated from the fish, to the point where I wondered whether the rosemary was too strong for the dish.
Fortunately, when presented to us shortly afterwards (each person receiving a large 1/2 of the fish, deskinned, but a whole filet), the rosemary was a lot less evident. This is an appropriately subtle dish, surprisingly given the rosemary. There is a nice utilizaton of olive oil (medium consistency) in the saucing, which augments the red mullet in a subtle way. The red mullet tastes like the intrinsic flavor of the fish. The only noticeable accompaniments are a little bit of herb on the top, two strands of lemon peel and a few (but significant to the dish composition) pieces of crunchy, pungent garlic (very slightly cooked). When bitten into, the garlic gave the dish an unexpected jolt.
The vegetables included haricot vert, cauliflower, green asparagus tips, etc. They were dressed in a very little bit of butter, and a jus that had noticeable amounts of lemon. Appropriately not overcooked.
We took in the red mullet with a glass of white Graves.
Black currants preserved, creme mousseline, warm chestnut sabayon.
This was fairly good, although I would not have expected black currant to pair well with chestnut. In general, I am not fond of desserts as a category and so it's harder for me to evaluate a dessert.
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