While we never had any complaints about the old Le Bernardin, the new incarnation of chef Eric Ripert's beloved Midtown restaurant has us thinking about fine dining in a whole new (and, dare we say, hip) light.
The gutted and redesigned dining room (which recently reopened after a five-week renovation) is a solid departure from the conservative look you may remember. Think steel wall panels, slatted-teak room dividers and an arresting seascape painting courtesy of Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner.
The biggest change, however, is the addition of a front lounge (in place of the old coat check) where guests are encouraged to stop by sans reservations for a light bite or a drink from the restaurant's first-ever cocktail menu. We loved the Aperol Noir ($17), which tastes of lemon, pinot noir and champagne.
The food has undergone a redesign as well, with new dishes ranging from gnocchi with caviar and urchin on the prix-fixe menu ($115) in the main dining room to a peppery tuna brochette ($16) in the lounge.
Our pick for dessert: "the egg" ($12), a small eggshell filled with rich chocolate pot de crème, light caramel foam and super-sweet maple syrup. Need we say more?
Le Bernardin, 155 W. 51st St. (between sixth and seventh aves.); 212-554-1515 or le-bernardin.com