Le Bernardin

New York, USA

Le Bernardin was the 4th restaurant on the quest. It was ranked 17th in 2017 and 26th in 2018. Le Bernardin is also a Michelin 3-star restaurant.

New York in the middle of summer. A stifling 33ºC heat with a short subway ride from the Flatiron almost to Central Park. Le Bernardin's dress code says jacket required. I have my jacket draped over my arm to prevent myself from showing up at the front door as a puddle of sweat. The humidity was thick with a thunderstorm looming. Sure enough, as we exit the subway station and head towards the restaurant, the sky opens up. Less than ideal conditions but at least a tasty meal awaits.

We walk through the door and tell the maître d’ that we have a reservation.

“Sure thing. If you could just put on your jacket, sir. Well, it is hot, we’ll give you a few minutes to cool down. Then please put on your jacket.”

Not a big deal. I knew about the jacket requirement. We are escorted to our table. On our way, a server informs me that I must put on my jacket. “Yeah, I know,” I think to myself.

As we are seated, our waiter for this lunch-time meal also informs me of my need to put on my jacket.

Not off to a great start.

The food, however, didn’t disappoint. Each of the French-style dishes were tasty but didn’t seem to be pushing any boundaries or presenting any surprises. It’s what one might expect when they think of what a Michelin 3-star restaurant experience should be like.

The wine pairings were nicely done, all complimenting the dishes. Le Bernardin has knowledgeable sommeliers wearing tastevins (a silver cup) around their neck. (Okay, maybe a little pretentious but considering the jacket requirement, I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise.)

The service fell off towards the end of the meal. As the restaurant filled with patrons, the servers for our table didn’t come by as often and there was more time between each of the dishes.

They asked if I wanted a coffee and I said yes to an espresso. I consider the espresso the end-of-the-meal drink. It’s usually the last thing had while the bill is signed. But served with the espresso was the final dessert of petit fours and a dessert wine. A bit surprising.

At the very end, we were left waiting for our bill.

I expected more out of the experience and after Eleven the night before, I definitely left Le Bernardin disappointed.