day three….le bernardin

the next day held the promise of our final, exquisite meal of the weekend, and we were not disappointed. we arrived at noon at le bernardin and were seated all the way at the back of the room. this afforded us a view of the whole scene, which, aside from a couple of tables of tourists, was completely white, male and corporate. the décor is very clean and simple, with tall windows onto 51st street and a few dramatic flower arrangements in the center of the room.

were given menus and offered a wine list. after ordering water (evian) and a glass of champagne each (henriot blanc de blanc NV), a dish of salmon rilletes arrived, along with a plate of marvelously thin toast. the salmon was creamy and unctuous, with a bright, fresh hit of lemon in the finish. it was the perfect match to the champagne. after deciding on our menu, the sommelier once again came to the rescue. given our choices, she recommended to each of us a different glass of wine (mine red, D’s white) that ended up being a perfect match. they were both spanish, but the names are lost in the windmills of my mind.

for my first course, i chose the sea urchin custard. it was the most luscious pale shade of coral and came topped with a few segments of sea urchin flesh and some sort of espuma. it was as rich as you could possible imagine. D chose the foie gras terrine, served with dashi gelee and mache-hijiki salad. by this time, we are already approaching getting full, and we haven’t even seen our entrees!

D chose the poached halibut. it was the most lovely pale white, appearing like a chunk of alabaster on his plate, except that it was remarkably tender under his fork. it rested atop a fan of razorthin slices of red and golden beets. my choice was the lobster ( a tail and a claw), which came baked with braised endive, enoki and black trumpet mushrooms and a bourbon black pepper sauce that was spooned over tableside from a silver pitcher. the sauce was just pungent enough to offset the richness of the shellfish. when we finished these, we were full, indeed, but there was still work to be done! dessert was on the horizon.

we found it impossible to narrow it down to just two desserts, so we settled on three. D had the chocolate peanut caramel tart with meyer lemon puree and fleur de sel. i opted for fruit…an almond tart filled with rose-scented cream, topped with raspberries and accompanied by lychee granite. we shared a plate of ice cream: chocolate malted rum and coconut sorbet. they were sublime. madeleines and pistachio financiers arrived and coffee was poured, although i chose a fresh mint tisane to aid in the digestion. when we pushed back our chairs, we felt more full than we had all weekend. even after the sixteen plates at daniel we had not been so uncomfortable. we chalked it up to the richness of the dishes we chose. there was no relief in any of the plates put before us, just a succession of luxury foods.

so, to recap:

saturday night was 16 plates over 4 hours
sunday night was 11 plates over 2 1/2 hours
monday noon was 8 plates over 2 hours

is it any wonder i felt so full? it was an absoltely amazing weekend of eating and i always love spending time with D. he is the consummate host and an enthusiastic dining partner. now if only he didn’t live so far away!

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