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Lobster timbale at Le Bernadin

Lobster timbale at Le Bernardin.


… but you should not take someone like me, whose favorite food is sourdough pretzels with aged cheddar cheese, to haute cuisine restaurants. The appreciation factor for sea urchin on a pedigreed pea with lemon zest is not going to fly high. Nonetheless, for years I have tried to be more of a gourmand rather than someone who is a repetitive orderer of spaghetti with tomatoes and basil. I am, by my own admission, boring to dine with. Plus I think people with refined palettes are more sensual than the plebe that goes for sirloin. On the other hand, one could make a good argument that nothing is sexier than a rare steak.

Steak, albeit not rare enough for some

Steak, albeit not rare enough for some.

Anyway, this summer I had a chance to dine at Le Bernardin, one of the premier restaurants in Manhattan – or so say the pundits of the food world: Le Bernardin. To a great degree, the dishes live up to their reputation (charred octopus, Alaskan King Crab “Crabouillabaisse,” and lobster timbale appetizers), but to me, a reveler of simple grilled fish, I was slightly underwhelmed by my Dover Sole, where the restaurant tagged on an $18 supplement to the $130 prix fixe. It arrived seared and tough – as in dried out – although the “Brown-Butter Tamarind Vinaigrette,” as it was described, sang rapturously. Nonetheless, the balance of the experience left me more convinced than ever that the best restaurants are not on any media lists.