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Best Tasting Menu

Le Bernardin
155 West 51st Street; 489-1515

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When you read them, tasting menus seem cute and manageable, a series of bite-size courses that allow you to sample the full range of a chef’s talents. But when those elegantly arranged plates start coming at you, what choice do you have but to return them wiped clean? You forget pacing; you forget leaving room for desert. You forget your own limits. This is a particular hazard at Le Bernardin (six-course tasting dinner, $90), where chef Eric Ripert’s creative fish concoctions—cumin-spiked tuna tartare; a moist, flash-cooked chunk of salmon with baby vegetables in black-truffle broth; pan-roasted skate in a light-green lentil–and–foie gras stew -- build to a stunning crescendo with the crispy Chinese-spiced red snapper, bathed in an overwhelming reduction of aged port and jerez vinegar. It’s a helluva lot more more food than you think, an incontestable truth not fully realized until you can barely touch the fig-and-almond-tart finale, with its crown of fennel ice cream. You can take those exquisite petits fours home in a doggie bag. Eventually, you might be hungry again.


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