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Finally made it to my #1 NYC fantasy restaurant, Le Bernardin! I had been dying to go there for years- one time I had almost convinced my parents to take me, but alas my dad refused when he heard of their silly jacket requirement. I don't actually think he owns a suit...

My prayers were answered when my awesome girlfriends said they would come out for lunch with me. It's a bit pricey at $66 for three courses, but a little more bearable than the four-course dinner at $109. Plus, it's an internationally regarded, multi-starred restaurant (NYT 4 stars + Michelin 3 stars = 7 stars!!! Er, whatevs.) that I thought I should visit at least once. (Although in this economic climate, it's not the best time for fancy lunches, now is it???).

LeB is a hoity-toity French seafood restaurant located in midtown Manhattan run by the mysteriously hot Eric Ripert. He's super intense looking with his shock of white hair and stern, quiet smile. He was just on Top Chef the other week- there's definitely a sexiness to him.

Don't want to drone on about all the dishes we had between the four of us, but here are the highlights. Courses are divided into the First Course of "Simply Raw," and "Barely Touched," and "Lightly Cooked" for the main course. If that ain't hoity-toity, I'm not sure what is. You will find many Japanese influences at LeB, which surprised us:

Butter nicely stacked on a silver tray.

Seafood salad: marinated shrimp, octopus, lobster and calamari in a citrus vinaigrette; honeydew-cucumber gelee; wasabi emulsion (FOAM!).

Row of Kumamoto oysters served with different sauces and toppings. God we were so excited about these that we didn't really listen to the server when he explained each one... FAIL! Cucumber citrus, wasabi, seaweed I think. Sure...

This one was the best, with dashi gelee cubes. Definitely the highlight of the entire meal here in this gem of the sea.

Bad picture, but one of the dishes (can't remember this was) came on a bed of salt, which I thought was neat.

I'm a huge mirugai sushi fan, so I ordered the Geoduck, marinated Peruvian style with sweet dried corn. The sweetness and crisped corn matched well with the chewiness of the geoduck. Wiki says that geoduck is considered an aphrodisiac... which would explain all the ACTION I'm getting.

Wild Striped Bass - Langoustine: baked langoustine and striped bass; confit tomato agnolotti; bouillabaisse consommé and curry emulsion. This was delish.

Poached halibut with baby brussel sprouts, and a uni-mustard sauce (MORE FOAM!). This dish lacked depth of flavor, though.

Desserts were pretty forgettable. The yuzu parfait with meringue was set up really nicely though:

Overly lit but I like the silouette here- tacky flash!:

For some reason they have two grand entrances- I get that one is for VIP parties, but it's a bit superfluous when they are just a dozen or so feet away from one another (I'm literally standing between the two entrances here).

Overall, the lunch did not wow us, I think that the place was a little too stiff to be able to fully enjoy the food. I didn't get a shot of the interior, but it's a really huge space with dark wood tones and overtowering flower arrangements. It's definitely a power lunch restaurant, packed with high-powered execs for deal-making/breaking meetings, or with their lovely 25-year old mistresses (glad the geoduck is working for some folks).

Here's a shot of Eric's back, sitting down with afore mentioned execs.

They did allow us to doddle and we totally closed the restaurant down. Eric's little son and wife showed up for their family lunch. It was really adorable and refreshing to see that he makes time for his family.

Beware, there is escolar on the menu!!!!! ESCOLAR = WAXY ORANGE POO!!!

Oh, and here's an old blog that Eric used to post for Wine Spectator, for those of you who are interested. He admits to drinking Bordeaux with everything!


  • I agree, overall it was kind of a forgettable lunch… More memorable was hot completely wasted we got afterwards at the tapas bar, where we drank more wine and ATE more cheese and meats! And then to the roof where we had even more — ochazuke and booze! WTF were we thinking?? I don’t think I’ve ever been that drunk in a lo-o-o-ng time…

    ayagwa on

  • Ayagwa- yeah we were totally wasted. God remember I totally bailed on the stairs! I was in pain for weeks!

    Ricky- I hear you on that. Star ratings are such baloney. Please devulge your experiences at Ko. I won’t go to a DChang joint- I’m not down with his “tude” (as my friend Nick calls it) and find his ramen insulting (in taste and price).

    Also, all his servers at Ssam Bar are mean and people seem to think that’s ok. Over it.

    How Sonja feels about Diner, I feel about DChang joints. Ha.

    kayoko on

  • I feel like every place in NY with a Michelin star has been a total let down. I wanted to strangle myself for going to Momofuku Ko.

    Ricky on

  • For the record, I should say that I don’t dislike DChang. I dislike the PR hype machine that has elevated him into godchef status, which I do not think he deserves.

    And you know what? He would probably agree with me.

    Have you ever been to Kuma Inn in the Lower East Side? It’s been around since 2003- now there’s a chef that deserves some more attention. He takes from this Filipino/Thai heritage and mixes it up with the other asian cuisines. Great sake list too.

    kayoko on

  • Dude, what’s worse is that DChang actually apprenticed at a ramen place!!! IN JAPAN!!!!!!!!!!

    AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! Makes me want to put a bullet into my head whenever I read him boasting this fact or when some tastemaker fanboy writes it in some “esteemed” publication.

    UGH… don’t even get me started on this, I get angry.

    kayoko on

  • Ko wasnt bad, it just wasnt anything special. I would say people who are creative cooks at home or cook Asian food(especially Chinese, Japanese, Korean) at home will not be too impressed. The cooks could have explained the food better instead of mumbling. Service was okay, it was minimal, they took dishes away and kept my water full. I think my expectations were way too high and I already eat things like kimchi, nabe, pork belly, sashimi, black sesame ice cream regularly it wasnt anything revolutionary for me or my wife. Also they charge freaking 12 bucks for a hitachino, they sell it whole foods/fairway for 4-5 bucks, 9 for large.

    I think the people who are impressed the most by the momofukus are kids who just came into money and making a transition away from cup a noodle, chipotle, and 99 cents pizza and cant tell, for them its like losing their virginity. I’m scratching my head about their ramen, in the bathroom at Ko there were books on ramen, and soba making. Did he actually read them?

    Ricky on

  • Tyson: At least 100 restaurants open in NYC every year, and reviewers have to dine at the place they’re reviewing at least 2-3 times before writing a review. Bruni is set for life. He probably doesnt even own a fridge.

    Kayoko: I’ll try Kuma Inn one of these days. Now I remember who was on the cover of the ramen book at Ko, it was the Ramen Akuma dude from Shina Sobaya.

    Ricky on

  • “I think the people who are impressed the most by the momofukus are kids who just came into money and making a transition away from cup a noodle, chipotle, and 99 cents pizza and cant tell, for them its like losing their virginity.”

    AMAZING. I think in general, being able to cook for oneself has a really chastening effects on one’s responses to heavily-hyped restaurants. Has there been any evidence that big-shot reviewers like Frank Bruni know how to prepare food for themselves? I guess since they eat 300 meals out per year, they don’t have to, but still…

    Tyson on

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