Bern's Reservation Question

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Bern's Reservation Question

#1 Post by Ed Kurtzman » January 29th, 2019, 10:07 am

I'm going to Bern's in early February and all I could get on a Saturday night is a 10PM reservation. Since our party of 3 will probably have at least 4 bottles, and we don't want to keep the staff there until 2AM, I'm thinking we should go in early and try to wait for a walk in table. Has anyone had good luck doing this at Bern's? Or is it better to call a few days in advance and ask if there are cancellations?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#2 Post by Michael Bowden » January 29th, 2019, 11:03 am

The bar is first come first serve but unless you are there when/before they open you'll be waiting. (but it might be better than starting at 10pm).

You can always ask for earlier but it's a popular restaurant and many don't cancel.

Staff is regularly there until late, you won't be an exception.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#3 Post by Ed Kurtzman » January 29th, 2019, 11:55 am

Thanks for the advice, Michael. Is it the full menu and full wine list in the bar, or limited?

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#4 Post by Alan Rath » January 29th, 2019, 12:07 pm

Ed, I've only eaten there once, but just more general advice: That place is big enough that there will almost certainly be a cancellation or two earlier in the evening. Worst case, you can get there early, hang out at the bar and hope to get 3 seats, and in the meantime peruse the wine list and start drinking. I'd show up early and just hang out. Unfortunately, there's nothing really to do around the restaurant, it's not in any kind of interesting area.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#5 Post by Ed Kurtzman » January 29th, 2019, 3:11 pm

Thanks, Alan, good advice. That whole evening is set aside for Bern's, so we might as well show up at 5, or whenever they open the doors.

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#6 Post by Robert Dentice » January 29th, 2019, 7:32 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 12:07 pm
Ed, I've only eaten there once, but just more general advice: That place is big enough that there will almost certainly be a cancellation or two earlier in the evening. Worst case, you can get there early, hang out at the bar and hope to get 3 seats, and in the meantime peruse the wine list and start drinking. I'd show up early and just hang out. Unfortunately, there's nothing really to do around the restaurant, it's not in any kind of interesting area.
Alan this is not true. Berns is booked up solid for 6 months in advance. They do close to 1000 covers a night. The bar is also jam packed. There is a reason why they do 10:00 reservations.

If you want to get there early be in line before 5:00 and gets seats in the Bar...just keep in the mind the wine service will not be as good as it will be in the dining room. You can eat in the bar in fact one of my favorite things, the steak sandwich is only available in the Bar. And don't worry about being there late once you move to the dining room I have been there many a night after 1:00 a.m.

What is your wine plan?

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#7 Post by Ed Kurtzman » January 29th, 2019, 9:04 pm

Robert Dentice wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 7:32 pm
Alan this is not true. Berns is booked up solid for 6 months in advance. They do close to 1000 covers a night. The bar is also jam packed. There is a reason why they do 10:00 reservations.

If you want to get there early be in line before 5:00 and gets seats in the Bar...just keep in the mind the wine service will not be as good as it will be in the dining room. You can eat in the bar in fact one of my favorite things, the steak sandwich is only available in the Bar. And don't worry about being there late once you move to the dining room I have been there many a night after 1:00 a.m.

What is your wine plan?
My wine plan is to have 1 or 2 whites, an older Gewurz and an older Chard, then an older Pinot or Beaujolais, and an older Syrah or Grenache. I don't want to go for big names that I could find anywhere, I'll look for the rare and unheralded gems.

Do you have a typical wine plan there, Robert?

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#8 Post by Michael Bowden » January 29th, 2019, 9:05 pm

Ed Kurtzman wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 11:55 am
Thanks for the advice, Michael. Is it the full menu and full wine list in the bar, or limited?
Full menu. As Robert mentioned - physically sitting at the bar is an option but there are real tables just past the bar also (those are the first come first serve seats). Lots of caviar options on the menu.....

Also, the steak sandwich might not be on the menu but it's available (I don't remember exactly).
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#9 Post by Robert Dentice » January 30th, 2019, 4:36 am

Ed Kurtzman wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 9:04 pm
Robert Dentice wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 7:32 pm
Alan this is not true. Berns is booked up solid for 6 months in advance. They do close to 1000 covers a night. The bar is also jam packed. There is a reason why they do 10:00 reservations.

If you want to get there early be in line before 5:00 and gets seats in the Bar...just keep in the mind the wine service will not be as good as it will be in the dining room. You can eat in the bar in fact one of my favorite things, the steak sandwich is only available in the Bar. And don't worry about being there late once you move to the dining room I have been there many a night after 1:00 a.m.

What is your wine plan?
My wine plan is to have 1 or 2 whites, an older Gewurz and an older Chard, then an older Pinot or Beaujolais, and an older Syrah or Grenache. I don't want to go for big names that I could find anywhere, I'll look for the rare and unheralded gems.

Do you have a typical wine plan there, Robert?
Well first off all they do not have any older whites worth drinking. I drink 90% whites throughout the year since I am German wine fanatic however when I go to Berns I drink 100% red.

I have also learned through the years to skip the cheap bottles at Berns - yes it seems cool to drink a 79 Beaujolais for $30 from a producer you have never heard of or a 65 Charbono but in all honesty those are still on the list for a reason.

Quality over Quantity is the best rule at Berns and Bordeaux is their strength.

Not sure what your budget is. I would set a budget and ask the some to pick one old Bordeaux for you (this is truly the strength of the list) and one other Syrah or Pinot. You will be much happier if you walk out of there having drunk two great wines versus lots of mediocre or worse wines. The list is huge and it is impossible to pick wines randomly that they still have in stock, with good fills and drinking well. The somms know what is good because they might have just opened a bottle from a case that is showing really well or something they uncovered from the offsite storage. I always trust them and they never let me down.

Feel free to send me a message if you have specific questions.

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#10 Post by Paul Jaouen » January 30th, 2019, 6:51 am

Robert Dentice wrote: Well first off all they do not have any older whites worth drinking. I drink 90% whites throughout the year since I am German wine fanatic however when I go to Berns I drink 100% red.
Robert, do you mean they have none left or they never had any? A group I used to go with would do reds on Friday and Saturday evenings and then quite a few would stay over for a Sunday night of only mature German whites and they raved about them. I never paid much attention because German whites are not my thing but I do recall having the odd bottle of riesling from the 40's, 50's, and 60's to start the red nights that tasted pretty good in my very uninformed opinion.

I do agree that their whites from other regions was never a strong point.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#11 Post by Robert Dentice » January 30th, 2019, 10:05 am

Paul Jaouen wrote:
January 30th, 2019, 6:51 am
Robert Dentice wrote: Well first off all they do not have any older whites worth drinking. I drink 90% whites throughout the year since I am German wine fanatic however when I go to Berns I drink 100% red.
Robert, do you mean they have none left or they never had any? A group I used to go with would do reds on Friday and Saturday evenings and then quite a few would stay over for a Sunday night of only mature German whites and they raved about them. I never paid much attention because German whites are not my thing but I do recall having the odd bottle of riesling from the 40's, 50's, and 60's to start the red nights that tasted pretty good in my very uninformed opinion.

I do agree that their whites from other regions was never a strong point.
They do have some German whites but what is on the list is a minefield. Many of the great 59s are long gone. Given German wine is my passion I would really love to be able to spend time in both cellars to see what I could find (I have volunteered many times to do this :) ). My main point is that if you are going for one night I would focus on Red.

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#12 Post by Paul Jaouen » January 30th, 2019, 11:14 am

I agree with your main point Robert. We spent a lot of time in the warehouse but I was never looking for whites. I don't even recall coming across anything remotely interesting to me although I did find some older Arneis that turned out not to be very good.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#13 Post by c fu » January 31st, 2019, 12:04 am

we were at the bar at 6pm on a friday, found seats quickly.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#14 Post by Jason T » January 31st, 2019, 4:29 am

Ed Kurtzman wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 3:11 pm
Thanks, Alan, good advice. That whole evening is set aside for Bern's, so we might as well show up at 5, or whenever they open the doors.
Showing up at 5 is good advice. My wife and I dined there last year for the first time and 5 or 10 was all we could snag so we opted for 5.

We had a round of cocktails and two bottles of wine over dinner, the kitchen and cellar tour, and then off to the dessert room. It was almost midnight when we left.

We took our time in the dining room as we wanted to enjoy ourselves - other tables turned two times or more (and we tipped appropriately for their patience). While the desserts in the dessert room were unexciting (but still good), the drink list was mind blowing. We ended up doing multiple flights of Madeira, Port, Sauternes, and a few other goodies.

The kitchen tour didn’t do much for me but it is kind of fun to see that kitchen in action given how many covers it’s doing. Wine cellar tour was a great opportunity to geek out!
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#15 Post by Jason T » January 31st, 2019, 4:35 am

Robert Dentice wrote:
January 30th, 2019, 4:36 am
Ed Kurtzman wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 9:04 pm
Robert Dentice wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 7:32 pm
Alan this is not true. Berns is booked up solid for 6 months in advance. They do close to 1000 covers a night. The bar is also jam packed. There is a reason why they do 10:00 reservations.

If you want to get there early be in line before 5:00 and gets seats in the Bar...just keep in the mind the wine service will not be as good as it will be in the dining room. You can eat in the bar in fact one of my favorite things, the steak sandwich is only available in the Bar. And don't worry about being there late once you move to the dining room I have been there many a night after 1:00 a.m.

What is your wine plan?
My wine plan is to have 1 or 2 whites, an older Gewurz and an older Chard, then an older Pinot or Beaujolais, and an older Syrah or Grenache. I don't want to go for big names that I could find anywhere, I'll look for the rare and unheralded gems.

Do you have a typical wine plan there, Robert?
The list is huge and it is impossible to pick wines randomly that they still have in stock, with good fills and drinking well. The somms know what is good because they might have just opened a bottle from a case that is showing really well or something they uncovered from the offsite storage. I always trust them and they never let me down.
Building on Robert’s comments about the Somms, I found it very helpful to contact Bern’s a couple weeks in advance and work with a Somm to lay out a budget and what my interests were and they came back with some fantastic recommendations.

The advantage with this approach is you’ve got a bit more time to work with them to hit your sweet spot. And as they were older bottles they stood them up the night before to let the sediment settle. When we were seated the Somm came right up and we discussed approach for serving those bottles given our menu and other drink choices for the evening and then off to the races. Really made the night of a bit more efficient and stress free.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#16 Post by Ed Kurtzman » January 31st, 2019, 7:04 am

Paul Jaouen wrote:
January 30th, 2019, 11:14 am
I agree with your main point Robert. We spent a lot of time in the warehouse but I was never looking for whites. I don't even recall coming across anything remotely interesting to me although I did find some older Arneis that turned out not to be very good.
How do you arrange a visit to the warehouse, just email one of the sommeliers? I see their contact info is on the website.

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#17 Post by Paul Jaouen » January 31st, 2019, 10:25 am

Ed, I never arranged it. Someone in my group handled it but yes you would need to contact somm. We would go early before it got busy. We were group of eight spending two or three evenings and quite a bit of money so there's that. The rule was also if you found something that wasn't on the list, you had to tell somm where it was located. You couldn't save/hide the case for subsequent visits.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#18 Post by Dennis Atick » January 31st, 2019, 1:19 pm

Paul Jaouen wrote:
January 31st, 2019, 10:25 am
Ed, I never arranged it. Someone in my group handled it but yes you would need to contact somm. We would go early before it got busy. We were group of eight spending two or three evenings and quite a bit of money so there's that. The rule was also if you found something that wasn't on the list, you had to tell somm where it was located. You couldn't save/hide the case for subsequent visits.
Same.
The pre-dinner warehouse trips were the highlights (along with 100-yr old Bdx [cheers.gif]) of my first two visits about 10 years ago.
This thread has me jonesin for a Bern's trip!
Last edited by Dennis Atick on February 1st, 2019, 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#19 Post by Alan Rath » January 31st, 2019, 9:54 pm

c fu wrote:
January 31st, 2019, 12:04 am
we were at the bar at 6pm on a friday, found seats quickly.
Well if you're thinking of getting a place there don't bother. There's really nothing available.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#20 Post by Doug Schulman » February 1st, 2019, 3:57 pm

Robert Dentice wrote:
January 30th, 2019, 4:36 am
I have also learned through the years to skip the cheap bottles at Berns - yes it seems cool to drink a 79 Beaujolais for $30 from a producer you have never heard of or a 65 Charbono but in all honesty those are still on the list for a reason.
I had a 1983 Saint Amour for $27 there twice (a couple of years apart) and it was really good both times. I'd easily pay twice that or more for that wine at another restaurant (not that I could) and be very happy. Same with a Petite Sirah from the '70s that was on the BTG glass for some crazy cheap price. Yes, there are some duds in there, but I've had great experiences with some of those cheap old wines. I think it's well worth getting a couple of those and a couple of more prestigious bottles. Even just raiding the BTG list at the bar can be very inexpensive and fun (some good wines, some not so good) before heading to a table and getting into some more serious wines.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#21 Post by Craig G » February 1st, 2019, 10:24 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
January 31st, 2019, 9:54 pm
c fu wrote:
January 31st, 2019, 12:04 am
we were at the bar at 6pm on a friday, found seats quickly.
Well if you're thinking of getting a place there don't bother. There's really nothing available.
Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#22 Post by bradkaplan » February 4th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Doug Schulman wrote:
February 1st, 2019, 3:57 pm
Robert Dentice wrote:
January 30th, 2019, 4:36 am
I have also learned through the years to skip the cheap bottles at Berns - yes it seems cool to drink a 79 Beaujolais for $30 from a producer you have never heard of or a 65 Charbono but in all honesty those are still on the list for a reason.
I had a 1983 Saint Amour for $27 there twice (a couple of years apart) and it was really good both times. I'd easily pay twice that or more for that wine at another restaurant (not that I could) and be very happy. Same with a Petite Sirah from the '70s that was on the BTG glass for some crazy cheap price. Yes, there are some duds in there, but I've had great experiences with some of those cheap old wines. I think it's well worth getting a couple of those and a couple of more prestigious bottles. Even just raiding the BTG list at the bar can be very inexpensive and fun (some good wines, some not so good) before heading to a table and getting into some more serious wines.
I'm another who has had very good experiences with some of their 80's cru boos, as well as some of the 80's german rieslings still available - both on multiple occasions over the past several years. Are they transcendent wines? No. But there's practically nowhere on earth where you'll find such aged gems at such crazy good prices.
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#23 Post by Robert Dentice » February 5th, 2019, 5:34 am

bradkaplan wrote:
February 4th, 2019, 6:50 pm
Doug Schulman wrote:
February 1st, 2019, 3:57 pm
Robert Dentice wrote:
January 30th, 2019, 4:36 am
I have also learned through the years to skip the cheap bottles at Berns - yes it seems cool to drink a 79 Beaujolais for $30 from a producer you have never heard of or a 65 Charbono but in all honesty those are still on the list for a reason.
I had a 1983 Saint Amour for $27 there twice (a couple of years apart) and it was really good both times. I'd easily pay twice that or more for that wine at another restaurant (not that I could) and be very happy. Same with a Petite Sirah from the '70s that was on the BTG glass for some crazy cheap price. Yes, there are some duds in there, but I've had great experiences with some of those cheap old wines. I think it's well worth getting a couple of those and a couple of more prestigious bottles. Even just raiding the BTG list at the bar can be very inexpensive and fun (some good wines, some not so good) before heading to a table and getting into some more serious wines.
I'm another who has had very good experiences with some of their 80's cru boos, as well as some of the 80's german rieslings still available - both on multiple occasions over the past several years. Are they transcendent wines? No. But there's practically nowhere on earth where you'll find such aged gems at such crazy good prices.
Apologies I did not do a great job of expressing that this is part of my personal strategy for Berns - I agree lots of those wines are fun and definitely worth the money. I have been to Berns well over 50x and tried many of them. These days I would rather drink wines that have the potential to be transcendent wines. I think the strength of Berns is their old Bordeaux and that is where I focus these days. It is also a type of wine I rarely get to drink in any other setting.

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#24 Post by Paul Jaouen » February 5th, 2019, 8:26 am

I think the strength of Berns has always been their mature Bordeaux and Burgundies. The better Bordeaux lasted longer than the better Burgundies. I would love to see your lifetime spend on 50+ visits. Then again it might be too much of a shock [wow.gif]
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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#25 Post by Robert Dentice » February 5th, 2019, 8:38 am

Paul Jaouen wrote:
February 5th, 2019, 8:26 am
I think the strength of Berns has always been their mature Bordeaux and Burgundies. The better Bordeaux lasted longer than the better Burgundies. I would love to see your lifetime spend on 50+ visits. Then again it might be too much of a shock [wow.gif]
I like to think of it in terms of the money I have saved!

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Re: Bern's Reservation Question

#26 Post by bradkaplan » February 5th, 2019, 10:41 am

YES, think of the MILLIONS of dollars Bern's has collectively saved its happy patrons! This is the ultimate place for wine shopper math. : )
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