Tomorrow night, the iconic New York restaurant Le Bernardin reopens after its first major renovation in the restaurant's 25-year history. What has emerged between design firm Bentel & Bentel and Le Bernardin's owners Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze is an attempt to modernize a restaurant that had begun to feel like it was stuck in time.
Like any story, Le Bernardin's transformation has a beginning, middle and end. The Feast visited the restaurant over the course of a month-long closure in August to track the changes. Here now, we present the results in reverse-chronological order.
The first video you see, above, is the end result—or, The After. The redesign toes the line between the "sexy" restaurant Ripert says Le Bernardin never was and the "timeless" one that can take the restaurant forward for the next 25 years. (Ripert says they took inspiration from the strategies of fashion houses like Hermès and Chanel.)
The restaurant's new lounge is now a more cohesive part of the Le Bernardin experience, rather than the afterthought it felt like before. Now, there is a cocktail menu designed in collaboration with The Summit's Greg Seider and a menu of bar snacks and raw seafood. Have a look at that here [pdf].
The video below captures Le Bernardin Under Construction, or, as Ripert put it, "the destruction of the old Le Bernardin." It features footage shot over both the beginning and end of August, as the restaurant was torn down with hammers and saws, and then built back up.
Finally, we end with what is, today, a flashback. In The Before, below: Scenes from the now gone Le Bernardin and Ripert discussing what compelled him to do this in the first place.
"We're taking a risk," said Ripert. "We could have stayed the Le Bernardin [that] we were. We've only had good years, 2011 is a record year. "Those 19th Century paintings are gorgeous and beautiful, but it's not really what we want to see any longer on our walls."