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Posts Tagged ‘gastronomic restaurant’

Zagat’s readers voted Le Bernardin as “The Most Popular Restaurant in New York in 2012” and the restaurant received 19 out of 20 points triumphing others and making Le Bernardin to become the only such highly prized restaurant in New York since 1996. The Michelin Guide honored the Chef Eric Ripert and Le Bernardin with its highest rating of three stars in 2005 and each year thereafter. Le Bernardin seems to keep its standard high. Moreover, the restaurant ranks 19 on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which is quite an achievement in the global culinary scene. Knowing about all these flattering achievements one enters the restaurant full of extraordinary expectations, making it even harder for the restaurant to meet them. Well, I thought that my first encounter (and my wallet saving option) would be wiser to spend at the restaurant’s bar so I can figure out whether it is worth the waiting for the reservation and the food. My impressions follow.

Bar at Le Bernardin

Bar at Le Bernardin

Cuisine: Gastronomic French seafood.

Visit: February 2012

Price: Very expensive (Prix-Fixe $127 – 4 courses at the restaurant; at the bar the selection is limited, yet you get great food with some options; the City Harvest weekly changing 3 course-menu offered exclusively at lunch in the Lounge for set price $45 is a great deal if you have time for a two-hour lunch – $5 go for the City Harvest, the world’s oldest food rescue organization founded in 1981).

Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert

Chef: Eric Ripert has an unparalleled experience at Paris’ best dining establishments including the first purely seafood restaurant ever to achieve three Michelin stars – Le Bernardin. There he worked closely with its founder and chef Gilbert Le Coze and after the later’s death he continued to uphold the highest standards of Le Bernardin. Ripert is the success behind the Le Bernardin’s expansion to the US, where the restaurant quickly became a star of the gastronomic stage. He knows fish and seafood very well owing to his early experience in Antibes, South of France, that laid foundations to his culinary expertise.

Bar scene at Le Bernardin

Bar scene at Le Bernardin

Atmosphere: This is another review from my bar tour through the top New York restaurants. The atmosphere and approach in each of them though is different. Foodwise my personal winner was only by a pinch of salt Per Se, yet some would disagree and put Le Bernardin ahead. The bar at Le Bernardin was more lively and felt more cool, yet the more discreet Per Se can be preferred by these seeking privacy and romance. You ned to dress up smart and elegant, no jeans, t-shirts and hats. There are two types of seating, one at the high chairs at the bar, and another, more comfortable for most of us, at small tables sprinkled around the bar area.

Food:  The seafood is prepared using French cooking techniques. The chef captured its spirit saying:

 Everything we do in the kitchen—using subtle textures and flavors, seeking out the freshest ingredients—has the same goal: to enhance and elevate the fish. 

Of course you can go for oysters or caviar as these are very popular luxurious bar snacks available at Le Bernardin. These come with a very high price tag though and do not test the chef’s skills.

Peruvian Style Scallop Ceviche

Peruvian Style Scallop Ceviche

With a glass of champagne we started with the Peruvian Style Scallop Ceviche. Peruvian food preparation style has been in the fashion focus of recent years and Ripert could not escape being enchanted by the savory whims of this Latin-American culinary style. The scallops were utmost tender, melting softly like a bubble of silk, refreshed gently with the lime and spice sauce, just to add a gentle accent to the dish. Unlike in Peru, where the sauce pops out and twists your tongue in an anxious move from the acid attack it bestows upon you, in New York you get it soft from the chef Ripert (an unlikely turn in America where generally the palates seek excitement).

Moving to a glass of white wine (German Riesling) we dove to the Kanpachi Tartare covered by a layer of wasabi tobiko ginger and embalmed  in a coriander emulsion. The fish was fresh, tender and light. Wasabi colored and spiced up fish eggs (tobiko) added crunchy texture to the slightly chewy chopped kanpachi, zest and warmth from the spicy ingredients, and the coriander cast more depth to the dish on the spoon. Delicious!

Kanpachi Tartare

Kanpachi Tartare

The waiter was praising the Yellowfin Tuna from the restaurant menu so we got it after a couple of minutes of persuasion. Normally, the restaurant dishes are not served at the bar, but if you show interest in food you can get some starters. The Tuna is chef’s specialty and indeed, he prepares it well. The paper-thin slices of sublime tuna are layered on thin beetroot shavings (which you cannot see unless you lift the fish) and covered with chopped capers and chives in olive oil. This delicate fish has enough oil on it and has enough fat so it likes wines with high acidity that cut through the fat. My choice would be either a fresh and complex white wine (such as Burgundy – ideally mineral Chablis or Puligni Montrachet) or a light red with good acidity (Pinot Noir or the balanced Greek one I had – look below).

YELLOWFIN TUNA

YELLOWFIN TUNA

From the warm snacks we went for the Warm Lobster and Truffle “en Brioche” since it sounded divine even on the paper. It was tasty and richer than our previous dishes. The fluffy Brioche was filled with warm tender lobster and black truffle shavings. Aromatic, intense yet still retaining its own harmony. The Brioche called for a heavier oaky Chardonnay or an intense white wine blend.

Warm Lobster and Truffle “en Brioche”

Warm Lobster and Truffle “en Brioche”

In the afternoon you can come to the bar and savor the french style with the “Café Gourmand”. You will get a tasting of a trio of mini desserts with coffee (it is a sort of take on the british afternoon tea – the French and the British always have to find something that would compete with the other’s inventions).

Drinks: Intriguing wines by the glass. I was pleasantly surprised by the Greek wine from the Domaine Economou located on the island of Crete. The wine undergoes 7 years of ageing in the barrels (100% French oak), tanks and in the bottles so it is ready to drink when it is released to the market. The local red grape varietals Liatiko (80%) is blended with 20% of Mandilaria. On the nose you get some fruity blackberry aromas and spices. The palate is mature Bordeaux-like with plum, spices, blackberries, jam, raisin and prune flavors. It is complex with supple tannins and long-lasting aftertaste. By-the-glass – you must try it!

Greek wine by the glass

Greek wine by the glass

Opening Hours: Lunch: Mon– Fri: 12 pm – 2:30 pm
Dinner: Mon – Thurs: 5:15 pm – 10:30 pm; Fri– Sat: 5:15 pm – 11 pm

Address: Le Bernardin | 155 West 51st Street, New York 10019, USA

Contact: Tel: +1 (212) 554 1515

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Lobster creation

Langustine creation

Cuisine: Gastronomic Brazilian

Visit: December 2012

Chef: The award-winning chef and local Tv personality Felipe Bronze said : “My work reflects who I am or how I think…“. The former student at the Culinary Institute of America in New York gathered culinary experience throughout the high-end restaurants in the US and later also back in Brazil (Sushi Leblon, Zuka, Z Contemporâneo). For his cooking endeavours he won a number of awards including the “Chef Revelação” (The Chef Revelation) in Brazil. He opened his ORO in 2010 and only months after its opening the restaurant has been widely acclaimed by the press.

Price: Very expensive, though it is quite flexible in terms of what you pay at the end as there are five menus ranging from 3 to 16 dishes. While the first is about 60USD, with the last 16-course chef’s menu priced at R$395 – almost 200 USD – it gets very expensive. Wine pairing is optional for an extra cost (look at “Drinks” below).

Open kitchen at Oro

Open kitchen at Oro

Atmosphere: Casual, fresh and fun as people sitting around you wonder over the creative dishes and often burst into laughs or whistle with sighs of admiration. The open kitchen concept lets you peek into the busy world of the chef and his helpers. The service is attentive, friendly and knows the dishes very well so all your peculiar questions will be answered. One would think to dress up, yet this is Brazil, the country far from conservative, so you can wear casual attire from jeans to white linen pants, almost like on holidays (just leave the Havaianas – Brazilian flip-flops, for the beach or a city tour). There is also a nice room upstairs that is suitable for private events and celebrations.

Food: Magic, fun and with an artistic presentation. The 16-course chef’s menu has to be reserved in advance. We went for the 5 dishes option where we got one snack at the start and then four different plates. The snack board consisted of cheese profiteroles, cashew nut confit and a stand of fruit and tapioca cones filled with something translated as a “pup” tartare. The menu is all in Portuguese so you have to rely on the waiter who is willing to explain you each dish in detail. Just to memorise it is quite an honourable effort (I had to record it how complex all the food was).

Start-up

Start-up

It is like a show in the Circus du Soleil in a gastronomic sense. The Caprese quente/fria, burrata,pesto de baru, tomate e pão de milho – Caprese Salad hot/cold, burrata, pesto of baru, tomato and corn bread is so intriguing to watch as the top coat dissolves under the tomato sauce that is being poured over it. Patience … and you will find out what is hidden inside. The burrata was super-creamy as one would expect from this Italian delicate cheese, the pesto just adds nutty and oily touch, but the corn bread was a bit too “wet” to my taste as it got moist in the batch of tomato sauce.

Plate No 1

Plate No 1

Plate No 3

Plate No 3

Plate No 2Plate No 2

Another interesting and perhaps even tastier course was the Lagostin com creme de pistaches, alcachofra e pupunha crocantes – Lagustine with cream pistachios, artichoke and crispy pejibaye. The langustine was of a superb tender quality, the cream of pistachios I would sell in a delicatessen store and I bet it would kill the sales of peanut butter how much better it was, and the thinly shredded artichoke added crispiness as it was stir fried like tempura.

My next surprise was the Filhote defumado, feijão Santarém, leite de castanhas – Filhote fish smoked and pan fried served with crusty Santarém beans mash and a dash of milk from chestnuts. Incredible, what one can do with fish!

Fish

Fish

Desserts come on a large plate with lots of local influence – from nuts you have never heard about to fruits and flours used in some of the sweets. Nevertheless, there is an international core to the chef’s desserts with a number of options. From “Everything with eggs“, “Everything with caramel” or “Everything with chocolate” to a special desserts blend called “The grove“. In our menu we got so much that it could have been a dinner on its own, although entirely sugar-dominated. The pot of  Crème brûlée, baby flan, chocolate mousse, crunchy cocoa nuts in a paper box, a pot of  fried churros, a thick custard sprinkled with caramelised nuts and even his genial frozen millle-feuille – these all have foreign foundations. The mille-feuille has a veil of magic around it as the waiter breaks the crust and adds steaming liquid nitrogen so the frozen ice cream and its crust can be penetrated. Then you can dive your spoon into the crusty cave hiding the sweet chocolate ice cream.

'Magic' desert plate

‘Magic’ dessert plate

Drinks: There is an option of wine pairing with each of your dishes and we went for it. It is a surprise as each wine is revealed by the Mendoza-born sommelier Cecilia Aldaz with your next course. The price ranges from R$70 (34 USD) in the smallest menu (3 wines) to R$295 (145 USD) in the chef’s menu. Starting with a glass of sparkly Cava refreshed our palate and got it ready for the tasty dishes to come. My favourite two pics were the crisp and zesty Errazuriz Reserva Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and the apricot flavoured Austrian Grüner Veltliner from Weingut Brundlmayer.

Sauvignon Blanc from Chile

Sauvignon Blanc from Chile

Austrian Gruner Veltliner from Weingut Brundlmayer

Austrian Gruner Veltliner from Weingut Brundlmayer

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday: 7:30pm to midnight| Fridays& Saturdays: from 7:30 to 12:30 AM.

Address: Rua Frei Leandro, 20 – Jd. Botânico, Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil.

Contact: Tel: +(55) 21 7864-9622; email: reservas@ororestaurante.com

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Cuisine: Gastronomic Italian.

Visit: November 2012

Price: High (starters above €20, PRIMI: first courses above €20 and SECONDI: main courses starting at €29; a 7-course tasting menu for € 70,00 or a 9-course for €90,00 are of a better value).

Chef: Alfredo Russo is from Turin, but his cooking goes beyond the borders of the Northern Italian Piedmont region. With his wife Stefania he opened Dolce Stil Novo in 1990 and only after three years he was awarded his first Michelin star for his innovative Italian cooking. He also published two booksDa Idea” and “Il miele in cucina”, participated in numerous conventions devoted to high cuisine as well as in a TV show in Israel. His concept of taking traditional dishes and ingredients, elaborating them from an idea and create something new stands behind the title of his first book Da Idea. Alfredo Russo gives cooking classes at his restaurant as well so you can learn how to create  Michelin star dishes like his.

Modern and sleek Dolce Stil Novo

Atmosphere: Simple, open and classy. This a gastronomic restaurant located just next to the former summer royal palace of the Italian kings and it feels very upper-class. A quiet, large dining room with high ceilings and views of the palace is made as if royals were to come for a lunch or dinner here. Dress accordingly to the restaurant’s stately attire, either a jacket or a formal shirt for men and a dress or elegant pant suit for women is appropriate although it is not required. Dolce Stil Novo can be a great spot for a romantic date since the restaurant’s location in the suburban Torino near the sprawling park next to the castle invites for a nice walk before or after you eat.

Food:  Playful, modern and rather complex than simple Italian. I was impressed by the starter of Vitello tonnato di fassone piemontese con caramello al limone, which is one of my favorite Italian starters. Usually a thin-cut veal slices are patted with a layer of rich and creamy tuna sauce with capers in this dish, but the version of Alfredo Russo is mush lighter and elegant. He wraps the thin veal around a spoonful of the tuna sauce and adds much more of a refreshing lemon juice creating a delicious appetizer that will not fill you up before the second and third courses arrive. Great with a glass of the local red Barbaresco or perhaps some white from Gavi.

Punte di asparagi con uovo di fattoria croccante e sale di vaniglia

Another starter or you can have it as your “secondo” is Punte di asparagi con uovo di fattoria croccante e sale di vaniglia. This is a fun plate. An asparagus cream with vanilla salt covered with cheese shavings is a discovery for most of the diners. It is creamy, yet fluffy and light at the same time. Multiple textures from creamy smooth to dry and rough mingle on your tongue as a pinch of sand on a layer of cream in a fresh milk bucket. This is one of the vegetarian dishes the restaurant offers, but there plenty of others including various pasta and rice-based plates.

In the mood for seafood? Then start or continue with the lobster. The Astice scottato alla piastra con cremoso di melanzane viola is light, fresh and juicy. The succulent pieces of lobster with juicy marinated vegetables are drizzled with a thick drops of balsamic vinegar. It is a nice dish for light eaters, but it was not my favorite from the menu – I found it quite boring and the lobster was far from its Maine (US state) relative, that is much more tasty and complex.

Lobster tails.

One of his signature dishes also suitable for vegetarians are the “Pasta in bianco olio e parmigiano”- Alfredo Russo. In this lasagna-like pasta he combines three layers, each of a different age, of parmigiano cheese. The meat lovers will not be disappointed at this Piemontese restaurant either. The special beef main course of Spalla di manzo con intingolo alle erbe aromatiche is good but quite small, so you will still have some space for a dessert or a cheese plate. It is the most expensive meat on the menu though, so I would not pay for it.

We skipped the desserts, although we got from the chef one pre-dessert of a creamy mouse with sorbet, which was delicious, and later with tea the chef treated us to a tray of chocolate and caramel lolies and small sweets so we did not miss out any sugar that night.

Chef’s pre-dessert

We could not resist the wide cheese selection on a trolley. The offer of mostly local cheese from mild cow cheese to stinky blue goat cheese lets you savor the flavors of all cheese corners of Piedmont. I would not recommend the stinky goat blue cheese as it tasted like a stinky wax for all of us who tried it, the cow and goats cheeses with rind were nice though. Overall, I was a bit disappointed by the restaurant’s selection. Italy has excellent cheeses, so why not to show these instead?

Drinks: The wine list has a great selection of price-friendly local wines. It was a pity though that the sommelier recommended us wines that we did not love as they did not correspond with our requests and her description. The choice and quality of teas is tremendous! Having a cup of a local herbal blend after a multiple-course dinner is all one wishes before getting to bed. You get a small hour-glass to measure exactly the length of steeping your tea in water, so you can remove it in time to obtain just the beneficial substances from the tea. Many restaurants and even tea houses neglect the right steeping time for teas, so I give a huge credit to Dolce Stil Novo for making the tea experience proper for their guests.

Tea selection

Opening hours: Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday: from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Lunch: daily from 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm except on Monday and Tuesday.

Address: Piazza della Repubblica, 4 – Venaria Reale (Torino); Italy

Contact: Tel: +(39) 011 4992343 – Mob: +(39) 339.1996218; Reservations are required for both lunch and dinner.

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