A brief history: Established in Paris nearly 50 years ago by brother and sister Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze, Le Bernardin expanded to New York in 1986. Decorated New York chef Eric Ripert has run the kitchen for more than 20 years, following the untimely passing of Gilbert.
What to order: Le Bernardin offers several menu options. The classic four-course menu is split into four sections – almost raw, barely touched, lightly cooked and ‘upon request’ – with dishes marrying French and global influences, especially those from Asia. Think tuna tartare with sea urchin toast and a drizzled jus de viande; or poached lobster with a foie gras, mushroom and truffle cake. There is also a popular vegetarian tasting menu, but those looking for the most complete experience should opt for the chef’s menu, featuring the classics and Ripert’s own favourites.
What’s the vibe? The dining room is a comfortable, modern space with waiters in Nehru-style jackets carefully presiding over the white tablecloth dining room’s well-heeled clientele.
A word on wine: Le Bernardin’s long-time wine director Aldo Sohm has earned a reputation as one of Manhattan’s top sommeliers, having received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service in 2009. Expanding upon Le Bernardin’s French-focused list of wines that complement fish, in 2014 he and Ripert opened upscale Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, just steps away.