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Blue Hill at Stone Barns


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A very pleasant lunch here yesterday. We started with the livestock tour of the property which was great fun. They now have a special pen of Berkshire pigs being raised especially for charcuterie.

As for the meal - it was our first time here and we enjoyed it a great deal, notwithstanding a few quibbles here and there.

Lunch is billed as three savory courses plus a sweet course, but we received 4+1 instead. Apparently because we told our server we were open to anything and that we enjoyed offal the kitchen sent us an extra savory course. We also splurged on cheese.

Amuses were the V-8 and tomato burger. The burger was amazing incredible crust on the tiniest bun that must have been baked in a thimble-sized muffin tin we thought. Great flavors.

First savory course was raw bonito with persimmin tomato in a pig's ear vinaigrette. There was no discernible pork flavor in the dish but we suspect the ear gave the dressing its gelatinous texture.

Second course was tomatoes served with both raw and grilled peach and purslane in a zuchini vinegrette. Again - very nicely composed dish - the tomato and peach played beautifully off of each other.

Third course was the morning farm egg with stewed beans - really nice, great texture, perfectly cooked egg. A bit underseasoned would be the only complaint - a few grains of sea salt would have been great.

Last course was pork - a tiny chop, a sliver of boudin blanc and a small strip of crispy belly in an intense pork reduction seasoned - I think - with star anise, or maybe 5 spice. Really great, perfectly cooked.

We splurged on a cheese course - a selection of 4 triple cremes, two from France and two from the USA, two goat and two cow.

Desserts generally underwhelmed. They sent us three - one was cherries with a sour cream sorbet, one was a blueberry ice cream with an almond cake and yogurt, and one was a flourless chocolate cake with peaches, gooseberries and some sort of ice cream and some sort of foam. As I've always found with Blue Hill in the city the desserts really are the weak link. The cherries and sour cream dish worked but the other two were really a mash-up. I don't see flourless chocolate cake belonging in a seasonal market-driven place like this (I'll admit I think that flourless chocolate cake has generally overstayed its welcome on restaurant menus by several years) and all of the fruit components on that plate clashed with the chocolate.

I'll echo those who question the portion sizes here - we were hungry again within a few hours of our meal, even with the extra savory course and the cheese course.

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Reservation for tomorrow night at 9:00. Estimating we'll be done by 11:30 or so. Due to their location is it safe to assume Stone Barns is used to calling customers a car after dinner so they can get back to the train station? Or is it better to arrange with the same car/company that dropwill be droppings us off at 9?

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Reservation for tomorrow night at 9:00. Estimating we'll be done by 11:30 or so. Due to their location is it safe to assume Stone Barns is used to calling customers a car after dinner so they can get back to the train station?  Or is it better to arrange with the same car/company that dropwill be droppings us off at 9?

you will not be done by 11:30.

figure 3 hours for the 5 course and more like 4 hours for the 9 course

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Reservation for tomorrow night at 9:00. Estimating we'll be done by 11:30 or so. Due to their location is it safe to assume Stone Barns is used to calling customers a car after dinner so they can get back to the train station?  Or is it better to arrange with the same car/company that dropwill be droppings us off at 9?

I had a 9pm dinner myself last fall. We were done by 11:30 w/a full tasting menu (that said, we're quick eaters and not lingerers). The restaurant called a car to pick us up and take us to the train. The car took about 20 mins to arrive.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was here on Friday to take part in a Farmer's Feast, and I must say this place is fan-freaking-tastic. Definitely a top-five meal on the east coast for me. Our reservation was later in the evening, but we arrived an hour early to walk around the grounds and get a drink. The facility is beautiful and reminiscent of great countryside temples of gastronomy in Europe. The fact that it's also a working farm sweetens the deal even further.

On our explorations we may have wandered too far into the grounds and may have set off a couple motion-detecting alarms, but no animals were harmed in our forays. My only criticism of the grounds and building is that it almost feels too clean, too Disneyland. This isn't to say that the operation feels sterilized and overly commercial, it's just a bit too idyllic to have grounds and buildings that nice. The dining room even feels a little bit too Pottery Barn/Restoration Hardware. It's pretty but perhaps a caricature of itself.

As long as I'm getting the most minor of criticisms out of the way, I might add that the cocktail program includes far too many vodka-based drinks. Some more creativity might be in order here to match the rest of the specialness of this restaurant.

So the general outline of the Farmer's Feast has been documented many times here on eG. I'm here to reiterate all the praise that's already be heaped onto this most engaging of meals. I'm not one to indiscriminately sing the praises of local, farm-to-table cooking. In fact, I'm often skeptical of it. This restaurant, more than even Chez Panisse, made me a believer, at least for the few hours we were there.

The onslaught of snacks that begin the meal is generous to say the least. Favorites among these items included the tomato burger, the charcuterie (of which we may have received an extra serving) and the "snout chips" ("face bacon's" more badass sibling). Pretty much all of the items served to being the meal were special, however.

A brief and enlightening interlude to explain that tomatoes would feature in many of the courses served as a much-needed break point between all the snacks and the beginning of the plated courses. On a large wooden tray, one of the captains presented easily a dozen varieties of tomatoes grown on the farm and supplied by original Blue Hill Farm in the Berkshires.

Among the savory courses, I most enjoyed a piece of grilled wahoo served over a vibrant lobster-corn chowder and a turkey dish that was deeply flavorful, bordering on gamey with perfectly crisped skin. If I'm recalling correctly a tomato salad, a crudo dish, and a braised lamb neck main also were consumed.

Desserts were a bit of a step down, as I don't feel the understated elegance of the produce comes through as well in the pastry world. They heeded our request for lighter desserts and brought out many fruit- and acid-forward desserts that we appreciated.

Finally, service was excellent. We had two main front waiters who explained the dishes, but I honestly felt as if everyone, even the runners were invested in the food. Getting someone's attention never required more than a look, a commendable feat in a restaurant this large. The wine list is quite extensive and a bit more expensive than I like, but I found a few glasses that worked quite well throughout the meal.

So all in all, a meal that, for me, surpassed expectations. Easily worth two Michelin stars and worth the trip.

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and a turkey dish that was deeply flavorful, bordering on gamey with perfectly crisped skin.  If I'm recalling correctly a tomato salad, a crudo dish, and a braised lamb neck main also were consumed.

That turkey dish was a highlight for me a few weeks ago. The biggest compliment I can pay it is that my girlfriend detests dark meat but devoured the breast and the leg thigh meat with gusto. I thought the carrots in that dish were the best cooked vegetables I've tasted since Adour.

Perfect essence of carrot. Incredible.

Minor things for me where that I feel the restaurant is way too dark at night.

The bottle of wine I ended up ordering (Gruaud Larose) was too almost too overpowering for the majority of the dishes but I knew that would probably be the case so I was fine with it. My companion only had half a glass and the went to the by the glass list.

When the server brought the bottle he poured, she declined to sample and just told him to finish the pour. Server poured again and walked away. The glass was in our opinion way below the level that a glass of wine should be poured at (maybe less than a third full and it wasn't an oversiized goblet). I'd noticed that the pour came out thinly and maybe the bottle was empty and the server would return with a fresh one. Not the case. I simply asked another server to top off the glass a bit more. This was done without hesitation and wasn't an issue.

This might be an assumption but the individual who poured the wine originally didn't seem to be a captain or lead server but rather a runner or back server so that MIGHT explain why the pour may have been off.

Like I said minor incident but it lead to good dinner discussion.

The booths are MASSIVE in the dinig room. I liked that alot.

Edited by flinflon28 (log)
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Among the savory courses, I most enjoyed a piece of grilled wahoo served over a vibrant lobster-corn chowder...

Not that I'm going to call them out on this minor technicality, but how does wahoo comport with the restaurant's hyper-local philosophy?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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The booths are MASSIVE in the dinig room.  I liked that alot.

I do too (love their MASSIVENESS). But did you find service for the inner-booth people a tad stressful? Lots of ARMS.

Still, I don't mind. I'd rather have the space and let THEM do the reaching.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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The booths are MASSIVE in the dinig room.  I liked that alot.

I do too (love their MASSIVENESS). But did you find service for the inner-booth people a tad stressful? Lots of ARMS.

Still, I don't mind. I'd rather have the space and let THEM do the reaching.

Actually we were a party of two sat in one of those Lincon Navigator sized booths so there was reaching but it wasn't as forced as it would be if there were four diners.

Felt like sitting at you dad's desk at work when you're 6 years old but we loved the space.

We were actually discussing that the two tops by the windows are chump change compared to the booths if you're a two top. I'm sure that might be different in daylight when the view out the windows is visible.

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I didn't find the light at all objectionable. A little low for a contemporary fine-dining restaurant, but certainly better than many other places.

The seafood thing brings up an interesting point, as it can't (or perhaps shouldn't) necessarily be staunchly local. A bit of reading shows that wahoo are caught in the Atlantic. Does that constitute local? I don't know how or where one draws the line.

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I didn't find the light at all objectionable.  A little low for a contemporary fine-dining restaurant, but certainly better than many other places.

The seafood thing brings up an interesting point, as it can't (or perhaps shouldn't) necessarily be staunchly local.  A bit of reading shows that wahoo are caught in the Atlantic.  Does that constitute local?  I don't know how or where one draws the line.

Making allowances for strays who may wander up into cooler waters, if I'm not mistaken, Waloo exist primarily in tropical waters (whether Atlantic, Pacific or Indian, etc...). Again, I'm not going to nit-pick. Clearly, the capers on my plate when I dined at BH@SB last year were not from our continent. Neither was the coffee/wine I was drinking. But when it comes to the main produce and meats, I'm fairly surprised that they would source beyond the tri-state (or thereabouts) area. I mean, I 'd be fairly surprised to see conch served at BH@SB, wouldn't you? So why not with Wahoo (or Ono, or Barracuda, or any one of it's other market names)?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Making allowances for strays who may wander up into cooler waters, if I'm not mistaken, Waloo exist primarily in tropical waters (whether Atlantic, Pacific or Indian, etc...).  Again, I'm not going to nit-pick.  Clearly, the capers on my plate when I dined at BH@SB last year were not from our continent.  Neither was the coffee/wine I was drinking.  But when it comes to the main produce and meats, I'm fairly surprised that they would source beyond the tri-state (or thereabouts) area.  I mean, I 'd be fairly surprised to see conch served at BH@SB, wouldn't you?  So why not with Wahoo (or Ono, or Barracuda, or any one of it's other market names)?

I recall Dan Barber saying in the beginning that fish was going to be the hardest thing for them to source locally, and impossible for them to raise on their own. I don't think they've ever claimed to be working towards being 100% local.

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Making allowances for strays who may wander up into cooler waters, if I'm not mistaken, Waloo exist primarily in tropical waters (whether Atlantic, Pacific or Indian, etc...).  Again, I'm not going to nit-pick.  Clearly, the capers on my plate when I dined at BH@SB last year were not from our continent.  Neither was the coffee/wine I was drinking.  But when it comes to the main produce and meats, I'm fairly surprised that they would source beyond the tri-state (or thereabouts) area.  I mean, I 'd be fairly surprised to see conch served at BH@SB, wouldn't you?  So why not with Wahoo (or Ono, or Barracuda, or any one of it's other market names)?

I recall Dan Barber saying in the beginning that fish was going to be the hardest thing for them to source locally, and impossible for them to raise on their own. I don't think they've ever claimed to be working towards being 100% local.

An eye catching menu description would be... Locally caught while fishing off the wall of Sing Sing. :laugh:

Robert R

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Making allowances for strays who may wander up into cooler waters, if I'm not mistaken, Waloo exist primarily in tropical waters (whether Atlantic, Pacific or Indian, etc...).  Again, I'm not going to nit-pick.  Clearly, the capers on my plate when I dined at BH@SB last year were not from our continent.  Neither was the coffee/wine I was drinking.  But when it comes to the main produce and meats, I'm fairly surprised that they would source beyond the tri-state (or thereabouts) area.  I mean, I 'd be fairly surprised to see conch served at BH@SB, wouldn't you?  So why not with Wahoo (or Ono, or Barracuda, or any one of it's other market names)?

I recall Dan Barber saying in the beginning that fish was going to be the hardest thing for them to source locally, and impossible for them to raise on their own. I don't think they've ever claimed to be working towards being 100% local.

Being from a land-locked state where I see plenty of fresh-water fish on the menu (striped bass, pike, walleye, etc...) makes me a firm believer that you can be more resourceful, if that is what one wants to do. I mean, I don't expect a place like Stone Barns to be serving catfish. But the local brook trout I had at the restaurant last year was perfectly wonderful.

I think I'd be a little deflated if I went to Stone Barns and was served Wahoo (on the Farmer's Feast). It runs counter-current to the appeal of the restaurant, for me.

But, you are right, I don't think Barber ever intended Stone Barns to be 100% local. And this proves it.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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A couple points.

First, there's a more than negligible chance that I'm misremembering the the type of fish. I do believe it was wahoo, however. Another eG member was at BH@SB that night and also partook in the Farmer's Feast so it might be useful for him to chime in if he's reading.

Second, I'd be more deflated to receive a piece or species of fish that the chef deemed less-than-completely-appropriate for the dish. If Barber had decided that wahoo was the best fish for the dish, that's what I want in it. What bothers me about a lot of contemporary cooking--be it farm-to-table or hypermodern cooking--is that some chefs are willing to put some kind of philosophy before flavor. Of course on some level, I tend to agree with these chefs. For instance, I understand why some chefs refuse to put threatened fish species on their menus. But if Barber was faced between choosing a local, freshwater fish to accompany the chowder and the wahoo, and he believed the wahoo to be better, I'd happily take the wahoo every time.

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Easily worth two Michelin stars and worth the trip.

Definitely worth the trip. From Texas, no less.

We made a trip to NY specifically for Blue Hill. Or more specifically, to celebrate my mom's birthday at Blue Hill. We basically spent the whole day at Stone Barns. Breakfast in the cafe followed by the Insider's Tour of the Stone Barns operation (which was quite cool, by the way). Lunch from the cafe, a little more exploring on our own, and a bit of chill-out time in the afternoon. Farmer's Feast that night, seated across the room from none other than BryanZ, who I saw on the way out.

Hard to say enough good things about the overall experience. It was really fantastic.

I agree with Bryan that the service is exceptional. They are there when you want them, and they disappear when you don't. And what's more, there is a clear sense of enthusiasm among the staff. Lots of smiles. Everyone seems like they genuinely want to be there. Knowledgeable and very helpful but not overly formal, the service was almost Danny Meyer-esque, shades of Eleven Madison Park where we had dined a few nights before.

I can see what Bryan is talking about re: the grounds and buildings. At times it seems like a huge museum exhibit of a farm rather than an actual working farm. But the tour we took quickly dispelled that mental image for me, really showing us more of the guts of the place. The dining room, is very pretty. Reminiscent of Gramercy Taven's farmhouse sort of feel, with bonus points for at one point having been, in fact, a farmhouse.

About the food, I will do a more detailed write-up later, but my favorites of the night (see menu below) were the celtuse dish and the Berkshire pork. They make a mean boudin blanc. Unlike Bryan, I also really enjoyed the desserts, in particular the roasted apricot dessert and all of the ice creams, which had wonderful texture and really clear flavors.

I wish I could help Bryan out with the fish ID, but we had no such thing (nor did we have the turkey or lamb neck, for that matter). Our menu was as follows...

(Lieb Family Cellars Blanc de Blancs)

Melon slushie with coppa

Tomato and yellow squash "fence"

Melon and watermelon with black pepper

Bread and butter

Charcuterie: salame, bologna, lonza?, heart and liver terrine sandwiched between chocolate wafers

Tomato "burgers"

Roasted eggplant wrapped with pancetta and sesame

Face bacon

Potato and sage chips, fried chard

Flat bread with Blue Hill butter, Blue Hill ricotta, eggplant puree, tomato salt, arugula salt

Tomato, watermelon, mozzarella "cloud", bacon

Bluefish with paddlefish caviar, tomato, pig's ear vinaigrette

Tomatoes, grilled peach, purslane, stracciatella

Celtuse with yogurt, pine nut butter, yogurt foam

Corn ravioli with tomato and basil sauce

(Weingut Günther Steinmetz 1994 Mülheimer Sonnenlay Riesling Spätlese)

Hudson Valley foie gras, roasted peach

Soft-cooked Blue Hill farm egg with heirloom beans, chorizo broth

Blue Hill Berkshire pork chop, belly and boudin blanc, eggplant puree

"New World, Old World" cheeses (Sainte-Maure vs. Hoja Santa, Brillat Savarin vs. Andante Farms Minuet), Blue Hill honey, pickled ramps, walnut bread

Roasted apricot, blackberries, lemon verbena ice cream, elderflower gelee

Yogurt mousse, corn ice cream, huckleberries, corn sabayon?, corn pate de fruit?

Flourless chocolate cake, gooseberries, strawberries, ginger ice cream

(Tisane with anise hyssop, fennel pollen, and lemon verbena)

Corn ice cream (encore), corn flakes

Mignardises: Plum, watermelon marshmallow, strawberry macaron with chocolate ganache, passion fruit chocolate bon bon

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Wow, it's amazing how different our meals were. Many of our snacks to start were the same--though not completely--but our courses themselves could hardly be more different.

Did you get a menu or take notes? Your recollection of the meal is much stronger than mine. And you reminded me of the egg dish and a similar crudo-type dish that we also received. It was a lot of food, and I now think I'm probably forgetting a dish or two--the ramp martini was strong. I must say, the only dish I have serious envy about is the foie. I'm sure theirs is completely unadulterated goodness. I do also wish I could've tried the pork, but I was very happy with the lamb, easily the best neck preparation I've had.

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But, you are right, I don't think Barber ever intended Stone Barns to be 100% local.  And this proves it.

When we were there a few weeks ago I was actually even more surprised by the fact that the peaches weren't local despite the fact that they are in season here. Apparently there's a particular peach orchard in Cali that Barber is crazy for - to the extent that he has the fruit rights to a single peach tree in that orchard. It was a damn good peach though.

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Wow, it's amazing how different our meals were.  Many of our snacks to start were the same--though not completely--but our courses themselves could hardly be more different.

Did you get a menu or take notes?  Your recollection of the meal is much stronger than mine.  And you reminded me of the egg dish and a similar crudo-type dish that we also received.  It was a lot of food, and I now think I'm probably forgetting a dish or two--the ramp martini was strong.  I must say, the only dish I have serious envy about is the foie.  I'm sure theirs is completely unadulterated goodness.  I do also wish I could've tried the pork, but I was very happy with the lamb, easily the best neck preparation I've had.

No menu or notes, just relied on the pictures I took and looked back a few days later to remember what we'd eaten. Between my mom and I we were able to piece it together for the most part. Definitely a lot of food. The foie gras was great. The only ingredient I really missed on the savory side was corn (the corn ravioli was for my mom, who has tried foie gras just once and determined that was enough for this lifetime).

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