Seafood-heaven Le Bernardin is king of the sea in the La Liste ranking of the world’s 1,000 best restaurants for the second year in a row.
The prestigious honor, announced Thursday morning, couldn’t come at a happier time for the Midtown fine-dining favorite, where chef/owner Eric Ripert said that 30% of dinner guests come from Asian countries where La Liste has more clout than in the US.
Ripert’s Asian customers now hail mainly from South Korea and Japan, he said. Their numbers have ticked up each year since the 2020 lockdowns. They’ve partly made up for the falloff in Chinese travelers who once pumped more dough than any other country into the Big Apple’s luxury economy.
Le Bernardin’s lunch clientele are mainly New Yorkers and other Americans, he said.
La Liste’s recognition of Le Bernardin followed the Michelin Guide’s recent renewal of the restaurant’s coveted three-star rating. Michelin has been a gold mine for Le Bernardin ever since the guide first came to New York in 2005, which caused an immediate 20% increase in business from overseas.
Ripert said, “La Liste was misunderstood until recently when people realized it reflected widespread critical, media, and public acclaim, not judgments by inspectors.” He said that awareness of the rankings was a “slower process but growing” in the US.
Unlike Michelin, which uses anonymous “inspectors” to evaluate eateries, La Liste relies on an algorithm. Its numerical ratings — such as Le Bernardin’s 99.5 out of a possible 100 — are derived from a vast database of “thousands of publications, hundreds of guidebooks and millions of online reviews” such as from Yelp and Tripadvisor, La Liste says.
Le Bernardin shares the highest numerical rankings with several other global spots, but it’s tops in the US — even besting Thomas Keller’s fabled French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., and Restaurant Daniel in New York.
Ripert wouldn’t cite specific data but he said this year’s revenue would surpass last year’s record volume. “We’re doing 10 more covers each day [for lunch and dinner]” than in 2022, he said.
Le Bernardin’s basic four-course dinner menu is priced at $208, considerably lower than the least expensive options at its super-class competitors Daniel, Jean-Georges, Per Se, and Eleven Madison Park.
Another trend he noted was that, even at Le Bernardin, people are eating earlier than they did before the pandemic.
“We now open at 5 p.m., compared to 5:30 in the past. The dining room is full by 6 p.m.,” he said.