If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I have a bit of a chef-crush on Michael Laiskonis, exec pastry chef of Le Bernardin and their associated restaurants around the country. Le Bernardin isn't just famous because of Eric Ripert (although I'm sure everyone wants to be his BFF), but it is one of the few restaurants in the US with 3 Michelin stars, as well as a consistent rating of 4 stars from NYT.
I know we're in a season where fine dining and outlandishly excessive meals are shunned (not quite a twitter-happy establishment), but I've been so interested in the work he's been sharing that I just had to go.
We went with the Le Bernardin tasting menu (as opposed to the chef's tasting or the 4-course) with wine pairing. The sommeliers wore these huge medallions that initially seemed a bit absurd, but ended up being quite useful to tell them apart from the servers. The food was very clean, deceptively simple yet amazingly complex, and of course, refined.
Kampachi tartare, squid stuffed w/ more squid + mushrooms, crispy snapper w/ a truly lovely spiced sauce (as a whole, I felt like I was eating a beef stew, except not beef)
Recognize the dish on the left?? Hootie hoo! Escolar w/ a red wine sauce and little potato chips, cod w/ a red bell pepper sauce, served w/ a yellow bell pepper filled with braised octopus (tasted and looked like a tamale. clever!)
Now for the fun part. I contacted Chef Laiskonis when I made my reservation because I really just wanted to meet him and such. Well, I got much, much more! There were only two desserts on the tasting menu, and when the first course came, we each got a different unlisted dish (and they kept coming). The real treat was that they were all dishes I've read about before - experiencing first-hand how each individual component worked to contribue to a beautifully plated and delicious dessert definitely made all his work an amazing reality.
Ahh there was so much food I actually don't remember what the dessert on the left was but it was pistachio-based and perhaps similar to this one. R: yogurt parfait, basil ice cream, yogurt micro-sponge (my favorite of the evening)
Ahh again I don't remember what this was but it was a green tea and yuzu dessert. On the right is one of his signatures - an egg filled with chocolate pot de creme, caramel foam, topped with some Maldon salt
It was pretty cool because the dessert courses were paced from light (fruit and such) to heavy (chocolate) as well. Unfortunately, all that wine, plus my giddy excitement and thus inability to think straight => I really can't remember what we ate! It was all delicous, the textures and flavors all worked together nicely, and everything was innovative without becoming too inaccessible. <3
I think this was a milk chocolate cremeux on the left, and then a chocolate-PB dessert on the right. There were just so many! I should've written it down.
A chocolate sweet potato dessert, raspberry pearls, truffle + petit four (beignet is missing because I ate it too soon)
Three hours, a stretched stomach, and a hefty bill later, our server finally asked the magic question: "Ready to see the kitchen?" YESSSS
Unlike the kitchen I worked in, it was remarkably pristine, very monochromatic, and quite serious. They mean business! The pastry nook was a very large space (for NY pastry standards) and I got to say hi to the team and finally meet someone I truly respect and admire. So gracious, humble, and generous! Definitely an experience I will never forget!