Le Bernardin, New York's internationally acclaimed four star seafood restaurant, was born in Paris in 1972 by sibling duo Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze. Dedicated entirely to the cuisine of Gilbert Le Coze, the self-taught seafood wizard, it only served fish: Fresh, simple and prepared with respect. Le Bernardin was named after an order of monks who liked to eat and drink and a song about the monks that Gabriel Le Coze, Maguy's and Gilbert's father, kept singing to them.
Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze were born and raised in a small village called Port Navalo in Brittany, France. Le Coze's parents owned and operated a small restaurant and inn, the Hotel de Rhuys. Gilbert received his cooking lessons by helping his grandfather and father in the kitchen and on the fishing boat while Maguy Le Coze worked alongside her mother in the dining room.
The dual combination of Gilbert's new cooking techniques — unheard of in the Haute Cuisine-obsessed salons of Paris' better restaurants in the early seventies—with Maguy's energy and drive in the dining room propelled Le Bernardin to one Michelin star in 1976. Considering that Le Bernardin was opened on a shoestring budget with Maguy's and Gilbert's parents helping out in the kitchen as the only employees on opening night, the Michelin accolades were an incredible accomplishment.
Continuing its success story, in 1980 the restaurant moved to a larger location garnering two coveted Michelin stars. This was the highest acclaim for a seafood-only restaurant since the powerful Michelin organization reserves the right to bestow three stars to restaurants with menus that also offer meat, games, poultry and fish to its diners. Le Bernardin insisted on only serving the best fish, carving out a niche in the competitive restaurant world of Paris and establishing an international reputation.
Inspired by the triumph of Le Bernardin in Paris and its many American clients, the Le Coze's sought to open a Le Bernardin in New York in 1986. By again employing the technique of "divide and conquer", Maguy commanded the functions of the dining room and décor, while seafood virtuoso Gilbert took control of the kitchen.
In no time, Le Bernardin became a four star restaurant which is renown for setting standards in the cooking of seafood in America. The restaurant holds several records in New York: it received its four star review from the New York Times only three months after opening—that's how much Gilbert's unconventional cooking had taken New Yorkers—and is the only New York four star restaurant that has maintained its status of excellence for more than 10 years. Reviews have come in 1986, 1989 and 1995 with the same verdict: Four stars.
After the unexpected death of her brother Gilbert in 1994, Maguy Le Coze is now working closely with her partner/chef Eric Ripert. Ripert, one of the brightest talents in the kitchens of the world, and Le Coze continue to uphold Le Bernardin's position as one of the world's premier restaurants. In 1998, Maguy Le Coze won the coveted James Beard Award for "Outstanding Restaurant" in America, Eric Ripert was named "Chef of the Year New York" by the James Beard Foundation, influential Gourmet magazine ranked Le Bernardin number one in New York and the Zagat's Guide for 1999 also placed the restaurant in its top spot for food.
To the delight of its fans all over the world, 1998 also saw the publication of Le Bernardin's first cookbook called Le Bernardin—Four Star Simplicity.
Le Bernardin is located in the Theater District neighborhood of Manhattan. For Broadway fans, dining and staying in and around the theater district is a must. Depending on whom you ask, the theater district spans approximately from Sixth to Eighth Avenues between 41st and 54th Streets. From the hustle of the Port Authority Bus Terminal to the bustle of 42nd Street and Times Square, much of New York's dazzling vibrancy and energy emanates from this area. Below we offer our advice on favorite places: HOTELS: Right at the crossroads of Times Square you'll find the Hilton Times Square, with its stunning views and close proximity to all the boogie of Broadway. A block north and east takes you the charming boutique hotel called the Casablanca, with just 48 rooms and a private rooftop deck beloved for its views of the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration. One block west and across from the New York Times headquarters is the 45-story Westin Times Square, linked to the E-Walk entertainment and retail complex. West 44th Street has a number of great hotels, including the Art Deco Millennium Broadway, the luxurious French-American Sofitel and Ian Schrager-designed boutique hotel Royalton just across the street. A block north and close to Eighth Avenue you'll find the well-known budget hotel, the Milford Plaza known also as the "lullaby of Broadway." Right at Broadway the perennial favorite Marriott Marquis has a soaring atrium and glass elevators. Just north you'll find the chic and trendy W New York Times Square, and further east the even more chic and über-trendy Night Hotel. Back to Broadway a just a block north around 46th Street is the convenient and comfortable Doubletree Guest Suites, which is a great option for families. A bit further west on 46th Street is another stylish Ian Schrager gem, the Paramount; to the east you'll find a stunning inspiration in The Muse. A final recommendation is just slightly outside the Theater District, but so close, so impressive, and overlooking the New York Public Library. Called the Bryant Park Hotel, it indeed has a wonderful view of popular Bryant Park as well. Click HERE for a complete list of hotels in the Theater District. RESTAURANTS With dozens of fine dining, casual, ethnic and fast-food restaurants to choose from, the Theater District is a food mecca. Remember to let your server know if you have theater tickets and need to finish your meal in a set period of time! First off, the block of West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues is well-known as Restaurant Row for its many offerings and wide variety of cuisines. Here you will find everything from traditional steakhouse fare at Broadway Joe to Italian Jewish cuisine at Lattanzi, to a great selection of beers and world cuisine at Joshua Tree. All around the theater district are big theme restaurants, ranging from ESPN Zone to the perennial favorite for barbecue Virgil’s. Enjoy excellent and quick Chinese food at Ollie’s. If great steak is your thing, head to the Palm or Ruths Chris. Other wonderful pre-theater possibilities include DB Bistro Moderne for excellent French bistro fare and the splendid new American cuisine at Thalia. If you crave great ethnic food and want to go a bit further afield, superb Ethiopian cuisine can be had at Queen of Sheba, and right nearby visit Hallo Berlin for a taste of Germany. One of our favorite all-American locales, The Pony Bar offers a few modest dishes to complement its dozens of superb craft beers. Your options certainly aren't limited to Restaurant Row or luxury restaurants. Obviously in Times Square, the crossroads of the world, you’ll find the chain restaurants you see all over America, some with supersize versions such as Chevy’s and Red Lobster. Happy dining!
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