"Is this real life?" 

That's the thought that ran through my head as I sat in a private dining room at Le Bernardin, Chef Eric Ripert's three-Michelin star French seafood restaurant. It's one of those places on my "foodie bucket list," and even after being seated and served fresh baked tomato and fennel bread, I still couldn't believe I was there. Le Bernardin is one of the top restaurants in New York City and has held its four-star rating from The New York Times for more than two decades. It's internationally popular and award winning, and to be able to dine at Le Bernardin is a unique culinary -- and luxury -- experience.

From the moment I sat down, I felt completely over-served in the best way possible. The table was set beautifully with every plate and utensil and glass in their rightful places. I don't even remember seeing a single wrinkle in the bright white linens.

I had the prix fixe dinner menu that included four courses with a surprise amuse bouche and bonus petit fours, and below are photos of the courses from the evening -- all outstanding in flavor and beautiful in plating. 

 

The Amuse Bouche

A trio of flavors and textures. From left to right: the most adorable potato I've ever seen/eaten topped with caviar, butter-poached lobster claw with spring pea puree, and carrot ginger soup with a wasabi pea tuille. 

 

First Course: Almost Raw

STRIPED BASS
Wild Striped Bass Tartare; Jicama Salad, Champagne-Mango Emulsion

 

Second Course: Barely Touched

LOBSTER
Lacquered Lobster Tail; Herb Spring Roll, Lemongrass Consommé

 

Main Course: Lightly Cooked

HALIBUT
Poached Halibut; Romenesco, Brussel Sprouts Yuzu Scented Sea Urchin Emulsion

 

Dessert

HAZELNUT PRALINE
Flourless Hazelnut Cake, Gianduja Mousse, Orange Curd, Praline Ice Cream

 

Petit Fours

A piece of chocolate with flecks of gold, a delicious mini macaron, this delicious citrus candy (I can't remember what it was!), and a tiny chocolate financier.

 

I didn't get to meet Chef Ripert, but I did catch a glimpse of him (and a flash of his silver hair) as he walked past the dining room. And I did get this little gift... 

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