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Blue Hill (NYC)


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Sidebar - I don't think I can recall any particular Amex opportunity that was a particular value. Was it Amex that offered 2 Days with Charlie Palmer? The only offer I’ve considered so far was the St.Francis reserve set – the price was fair but it was one-stop shopping. I’ve seen some interesting junkets offered via Gourmet magazine. Has any partaken?

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Sidebar - I don't think I can recall any particular Amex opportunity that was a particular value.

at the Fleadh a few years back, having "gold circle" tickets, or whatever they were, proved to be worth much more than the extra 20 bucks as there was a separate section for those ticketholders with seating, short beer lines, and many port-o-johns.

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In supporting Blue Hill, I didn't intend to refer to financial support, because the restaurant appears to be doing fine in that respect. I meant "support" in the sense of sharing in a restaurant's milestone events. Even though the F&W Best New Chefs award was announced many months ago, last night was a bit of a celebration of Dan/Mike's receipt of that award (arguably). It was certainly an occasion for BH teams to be scrutinized by other chefs, and important in that way too.

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I'm sorry to hear anyone is underwhelmed at Blue Hill since I've been a fan and gone out of my way to recommend it to all manner of people since my first meal there. Perhaps only Cabrales has touted it higher. Of all the people we've taken there, and they range from some very sophisticated diners quite used to three star Michelin dining to those who rarely eat out and then only for social reasons. The only one so far to find fault was someone who does not enjoy eating out and doesn't understand why people make such a fuss about food at home or in restaurants. (I'm not the food snob I'm made out to be, nor even the one I want to be. :biggrin: )

I'm constantly reminded that taste in food is very subjective and that my most disappointing meals are often at Michelin three star restaurants. In a way, it's healty for a restaurant that draws so many raves to occasionally get an unsatisfactory review here. It's a reminder that not every restaurant is not going to pelase every palate and that if you don't enjoy a meal at a universally acclaimed restaurant, it's not your fault either.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I had a good dinner at Blue Hill tonight, though the cuisine may have been slightly less appealing than most meals I have taken in at the restaurant. I was wonderfully welcomed in the dining room, and assisted throughout, by Christopher and by Maya (spelling?).

The meal began with a cauliflower veloute in a shotglass, with a rather fluffy-looking celery and apple foam (yes, there had to be apple in the foam :laugh:). More than any other soup-based amuses I recall having had at BH, this version seemed to have the foam rather highlighted (in this case, by the low temperature and the unusual aroma akin to that of white pepper that was incorporated; I doubt the ingredient was white pepper, but more on that below). The cauliflower veloute was average.

The first course were pan-fried bay scallops with turnips and a parsnip sauce. The preparation method for the scallops was appropriate, but I subjectively found the product's inherent texture not as "crisp" as I prefer. The scallops were cute, little bay scallops, nicely seared on top. Slices of thin white turnip had been set forth underneath the scallops, although they were not evident upon the presentation of the dish to the diner. The turnip had an intrinsic sweetness that had been augmented by perhaps a marination technique (??), and was additive to the dish. The green-colored parsnip sauce was rather savory, and perhaps I would have preferred a more noticeable bit of sweetness in it. This dish, like the amuse, had an aroma that invoked white pepper, although the causal agent was likely not white pepper. Overall, an average dish.

Next, Spanish mackerel was presented with pickled black radishes and a green-colored parsley sauce. The fish was prepared just right (slow method, previously described). I like the flavorfulness of Spanish mackerel and the gentle curves in the ridges of its flesh, which I had last sampled as an hors-d'oeuvre at the AmEx/Food & Wine Best New Chefs event. The inside of the fish was, as usual, nicely cool and fleshy. I liked the controlled sweet-and-sour effects inherent in the medium-soft juliennes of pickled radishes considerably when coupled with this particular fish variety. A nice utilization of chives in the parsley saucing, which was nicely moderate in strength of flavor. A dish that I found to be good-to-very-good. :wink:

Then, two pieces of lamb with nice fat effects along their edges. Nicely prepared no more than medium rare, with a jus-based saucing. I liked the pieces of still-somewhat-crunchy cabbage that had absorbed a bit of the saucing and that were quite tasty. There was a vegetable millefeuille with (deliberately) medium-thick vegetable slices, including carrots, turnips and radishes. The spicing on this vegetable offering carried Moroccan/Middle-Eastern-type flavors that I had somewhat mixed feelings about.

The pre-dessert were pears, marinated in a slightly spicy, slightly cinammon-flavored reddish liquid (with a bit of alcohol). A fromage blanc sorbet smoothened out the rustic, wintery notes of this pre-dessert. The pear was incorporated in smallish chunks. This seems to be the winter version of the peach pre-dessert I had sampled on more than one occasion at BH.

Our dessert was a quince coupe, consisting of poached quince, quince granite (slightly too "icy"), and lemon shortcake. There were pear connotations in this item. I finished the meal with a double espresso. My temporary inability to take in alcohol remains in place. It was bad enough that I was drinking chilled Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider (I prefer Pear) at the eGullet "horizontal" tasting party last night. Alas, I adhered to Pellegrino with lime all night tonight. The dining room team was gracious about my predicament. :wink:

I am beginning to think that, on certain visits, I could have a slightly-better-than-50% likelihood (50% could presumably be achieved by long-term random guessing in picking a given chef) of detecting correctly which of Mike and Dan is in the kitchen. Possible preliminary observations, subject to gathering additional data points: (1) Mike likes using yuzu more, (2) some of Dan's dishes have an unusual spicing to them that I had, on previous occasions, believed to be an unduly heavy hand with white pepper and that this time around, I thought signalled his liking another similar spice with which I am not familiar, and (3) Dan seems to like green-colored, vegetable-based sauces more than Mike (although both appear to use this type of saucing quite a bit) -- this possibility is consistent with the prevalence of such saucing (in different guises) at Bouley, where Dan worked. Perhaps the above points are invalid; it's actually very difficult to tell, particularly when the co-chefs appear to collaborate intensively on recipes. However, had I not already known that Dan tends to cook on Monday evenings, I believe I would have correctly surmised that Dan had been the cuisinier tonight. :laugh:

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Hey Cabrales...good to see your "partial" post...will check back in 30...was this a tasting menu the kitchen did for you or did you cobble the selections together from the menu? I (and another eGullet person and his wife) will be dining there for the first time on Friday night...I can't wait to give it a try!

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Hey cab...

cool review so far...

couple questions....

they obviously know you here now, right...do you recieve any additional courses, special treatment...do they know your likings or have you told them...you seem to be a special customer and I would think they would aim to please...unless you aim to go unnoticed for as long as possible...

you mentioned the scallops were nicely seared, but not crispy enough for you? Do you like them beyond nicely seared? Just curious....

As I think you mentioned to me once, it's nice to know a restaurant so well you can tell the different intracacies (sp?) of preparation/cooking and know how well they can present a dish...knowing you were either overwhelmed by the expertise or dissappointed in their execution on a certain course...

Anyway, I like your post,made me really craving for a meal like that...and BTW get a digital camera why doncha ya :biggrin: I would love to see how these courses look!

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To my recollection, I have ordered off the menu at BH no more than once (if that) to date. The first time I went to BH, it was with Steve P and ahr (who had previously visited the restaurant and received the chefs' offer to cook for our table) and Wilfrid earlier this year. I wrote up my meal (very briefly), and, since I was the only woman in the group, it became evident presumably to Mike (who reads the board) that I was me. I liked the food, and revisited on different occasions described in this thread and others in this forum. I am happy to be treated excellently when I am at BH. :laugh: For example, the two Concord grape menus which I was fortunate to have sampled.


On the scallops, I meant not crisp in the sense of deep-fried. When I indicated the texture of the scallops was not crisp, that meant that there were not as dense and elastic and substantial when bitten into than those I subjectively prefer.

Note I now have a Canon 3.2 megapixel, very small, very light Powershot 230. Thanks to members for the recommendation in the thread from a while ago on digital cameras. This one serves my needs quite well. I utilized the camera at the eGullet tasting party last night (most of the pictures were not taken under the highest resolution mode); CathyL should be posting the photos she took and the ones I provided when she has a chance.

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The first time I went to BH, it was with Steve P and ahr (who had previously visited the restaurant and received the chefs' offer to cook for our table) and Wilfrid ...

...who had also previously visited the restaurant. :huh:

Wilfrid -- Apologies.

I meant to say that Steve P and ahr had previously visited the restaurant together -- not very much time before the four of us went. The (appropriate) gist of Wilfrid's message was that I was the newbie within our group. :huh:

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I had a very good meal at Blue Hill last night with another eGulleteer, whom I appreciated meeting. :laugh: However, the meal was coupled with sadness with respect to a certain impending change to the dining room team. :sad::sad: The meal was the first I had had within two days of a prior BH meal. I did not feel any sense of repetition with respect to the cuisine, however.

The amuse was a small portion of nicely unanticipated canneloni of lamb with root vegetables. The pasta was supple, and surrounded nicely flavored, somewhat intense-tasting lamb. The orangish-reddish-colored saucing had a sophisticated rusticism to it, and I liked the refreshing morsel of a mini turnip and the two small slices of softened carrots. It was interesting that the hint of cumin in the dish was not in the canneloni portion, but integrated into the sweetened carrots.

-- Mushroom Tart -- This was a dish I liked, with a saucing that intrigued me and that was difficult to deconstruct. The thin saucing had an acidity to it that I did not associate with, say, various types of vinegar. It contained mushroom jus, but it was more complex (in a good way) than that and not a saucing which (or a relative of which) I have ever sampled before. :blink:

The dish was visually appealing, with a longish mushroom tart, described below, on one side and perhaps four or five clusters of small mushroom pieces (including a black trumpet variety and a chanterelle-family variety), presented with a sprig of baby greens in some cases and marinated in others. The mushroom tart was roughly shaped like a wide sausage. Its appearance reminded me of Adria's dish of langoustines wrapped in super-thin porcini slices, which was photographed in P Franey's (spelling) P Franey Cooking with Friends (or a similar title; a book with certain modified recipes from, among others, Guerard, Arzak, Bocuse, Danko). According to Franey, Adria's very thin slices of porcini were achieved by freezing the mushrooms prior to cutting them.

The BH mushroom tart had slices of porcini of medium thickness wrapped around potato flesh that was between chunks and puree. Below the potato portion were small bits of cooked down onions imbued with the saucing for the dish described above. An intellectually engaging dish that I liked, although I might need to contemplate the texture of the potato a bit more.

-- Spanish Mackerel with Pickled Onions, Pickled Radishes and Parsley Sauce -- This was an appealing dish, exhibiting significant Japanese influences (not just from the pickled vegetables, which were nicely prominent in the dish). The Spanish mackerel was well-prepared, as it as been on other occasions I have sampled this fish at BH. A very interesting saucing that, while clearly containing parsley notes, was more complex (in a good way) and that had more acidity than parsley would suggest. There might have been acidity not only in the pickled vegetables (sweet-sour, complex Japanese-like flavors), but also in the saucing.

-- Sea Bass with Smoked Herrings' Eggs, Bak Choy or Similar Veggie, and Cauliflower -- Literally one of the best dishes I have sampled at BH. I considered this dish excellent. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have chosen to take in this dish over Jacque Pic's signature dish at Valence of sea bass with caviar in a champagne sauce (although the latter did have interesting temperature effects when the literally "sheet" of caviar, all atop the bass, was heated up at the table by the bass flesh).

At BH, the bass was appropriately cooked, flavorful bass with a bit of smoked herrings' eggs on top and much, much more of such eggs spread beautifully in the medium-consistency saucing surrounding the bass. The saucing was nicely salted, and complemented the caviar-like flavors and, equally significantly, the marked smokiness of the herrings' eggs.

When I initially saw the cauliflower (two small bits) included, I wondered whether it was necessary. It was arguably helpful to the dish. I had also initially wondered whether the relative crispiness of the bok choy-like veggie (even though it was sliced up) would have detracted from the bass and herrings' eggs focus, and whether something more supple (like spinach) might have been a better ingredient. A tasting of the dish allayed my initial mental doubts -- the bok choy was not at all conspicuous in the dish and was a good match.

-- Capon with Turnip Puree and Chestnuts -- Nicely prepared, smooth flesh, with an appealing piece that had skin appropriately prepared. A nice intensity to the jus-based saucing, of which additional quantities were available in a little soup container placed at our table. I liked the "darkness" of the saucing, against the backdrop of a medium consistency, green-colored, but nicely sweet-ish turnip puree and the sweetness inherent in the chestnuts.

-- White Truffle Ice Cream with White Truffles Slices -- A nice, light ice cream infused with a very subtle (appropriately) white truffle taste and topped by three slices of white truffles that had a tiny bit of olive oil and salt on them. I appreciated this pre-dessert considerably. :laugh: An appealing inclusion of crushed, crunchy walnuts, although I would have subjectively considered the ratio of walnuts to ice cream slightly higher than ideal.

-- Quince Granite, Poached Quince, Pear Foam -- This was comparable to the quince dessert I had sampled recently. This time around, I noticed some nice honey-like aromas, whether from the utilizaton of honey in connection with the poached quince or from the natural effects of cooking of the quince. The pear foam was a good match, and particularly interesting as I had recently smelled a ripe quince for the first time (at the hotel/motel/restaurants show) and had discussed with Steve Klc how comparable the aroma was to that of Asian pear.

Maya provided the informed and welcoming assistance she did on Monday. Separately, I continued to be unable to take in alcohol, which was a shame in the context of last night's meal.

I valued a discussion with Christopher. I was glad Mike was in the kitchen last night. :raz: We discussed, among other things, the Spanish mackerel. Mike wondered whether to serve me the same fish as Monday, even though the preparations were distinct. I assured him I liked that fish a lot when received at BH. :wink:

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We missed you by a day. We dined at Blue Hill with two other couples. Both couples are old friends, but one was a couple we hadn't seen in many years. It turned out that one of their sons was a classmate of Dan's and they were responsible for introducing Dan to at least one good contact in the food world. Nevertheless, I would not classify either of our friends as obsessive foodies. We did not take notes and I tried to pay as much attention to the conversation as I did to the food. I know when I'm with obsessive food people, because the conversation rarely moves away from food and at a restaurant such as Blue Hill, it rarely moves from the food at hand.

We did not take notes, however, and if we did, my post would still be far different from yours. That's not meant as an excuse for us or a criticism of your posts. One of the truly wonderful things about eGullet is that we have different takes on what we do and different styles of reporting our food experiences. I don't always pay as much attention to the dining room team as I might, especially when things run smoothly, although Blue Hill has at different times had a couple of the best managers I know. Who's leaving? Don't be so coy. The night we were there was the first time I can remember an all female team. I am not so much of a sexist to make too much out of this, and it was my wife who remarked about the staff lest I miss it. There was however, a charm and gentility about the evening that matched the food better than I had experienced before.

We had some of the same food. Although my friends may not have been as dedicated to food as my wife and I, they were people I consider sophisticated and appreciative. They were quick to accept Dan's invitation to let him cook for us. We had the lamb canneloni and diced vegetables as a garnish to excellent lamb chops and Spanish mackeral as our first fish course. I recall a julienne of celery root under the fish, so the preparation was different. The fish was also very lightly cooked, which is to say rare in the center. At least this was my impression. One of the very few faults I have ever had with the restaurant is that the lighting level is just too dim for a place that is so attractively designed, served such attractive food and generally attracts a presentable crowd. It's not as dark as it used to be and I can usually read the menu these days, though I don't always check to see what's on it. Actually, I did read the wine list, so the lighting must have been tolerable.

The first whiff of a gewurtztraminer actually caused me to recoil, but the second sip was borderline, so I passed the glass to Mrs. B. The sommelier put her nose to the bottle when she saw me pass the glass questionably to my left and said the wine smelled corked at about the same time as my wife concurred. The sommelier apologized for not smelling the wine before serving me a taste. I'm never sure what to expect from a wine server in NY. This was a bottle from the lower end of the list in terms of price and Blue Hill gets a very varied cross section of diners. It would be nice to never get a bad bottle of wine, but my guess is that many customers would complain if the sommelier stole a sip for tasting and some might even find it offensive in he, or in this case she stuck her nose to the bottle. That number would presumably be highest among those ordering the least expensive wines. What's a server to do. The replacement bottle was fine and I have to say, there's nothing like the aroma of a lovely gewurtztraminer after you've smelled a corked one. The difference may be so great that it's no wonder I think the number of gewurtztraminers I've rejected are far out of proportion to the number I've ordered. The other three wines of the night were also fine and this was in no way a criticism of the storage or service of fine at Blue Hill. It's a small list and as Blue Hill is a small, not particularly luxurious nor overly expensive familiy owned restaurant, the list changes frequently. I don't always find wines I know, but have always been able to rely on the staff for suggestions.

The truffle ice cream was a treat, but my suspicion is that it's reserved for vip diners, which raises the old question that was well answered in an old thread on this site--how do I get special attention and service at a top restaurant. The general answer, besides sacrificing your first born, is to become a regular and make yourself know to the restaurant. If they're not aware you're a repeat diner, remind them when you make your reservation and when they serve you. Continue to patronize the restaurant regularly. Few of us can afford to be honored guests at too many restaurants, but if you're lucky, the waiter from one such restaurant will become the captain at another. Making the right kind of special requests will help. It's essential that these are the sort that will mark you as a connoisseur, not a pain in the ass.

Did I make it clear that my dinner at Blue Hill was superb? I get side tracked. I feel there's no longer a reason to mention that I feel strongly about how good this food is.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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The night we were there was the first time I can remember an all female team. I am not so much of a sexist to make too much out of this, and it was my wife who remarked about the staff lest I miss it. ...

The truffle ice cream was a treat, but my suspicion is that it's reserved for vip diners . . . .

Few of us can afford to be honored guests at too many restaurants . . . .

Bux -- The all-female team you describe was likely coordinated by Maya. :laugh: She directed the front of the room for the AmEx/Food & Wine Best New Chefs event last week as well. On the white truffle ice cream, I did ask about whether it was generally available, given the cost of white truffles and the inclusion of shaved slices on top of the ice cream. The dining room team indicated that it is generally a treat for friends of the restaurant, as you guessed. :blink:

On the point about few members being able to afford being friends of too many restaurants, I'd say there's validity to the statement that there are currently few restaurant in NY I'd value being a known diner at. Who would want to be a known customer at a restaurant that offers cuisine one doesn't truly appreciate? Who would want to praise a cuisine to the extent one felt differently? I don't think a diner needs a lot of restaurants at which nice treatment is available; one needs to identify a handful of restaurants one adores and proceed from there. :raz:

For purposes of ease of reference, the link to the November 2002 AmEx/Food & Wine Event description is below:


Below are links to certain other threads on Blue Hill:


(Q&A material)


(the all-tomato dinner)


(the garden room)

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My wife Allison and I had dinner at Blue Hill with Southern Girl Friday night- it was the first visit to Blue Hill for each of us- I don't mean to speak for my companions, but we all thought it was a terrific dinner with impeccable service. SG handled the reservations and had informed the restaurant of our E-Gullet membership (I'm not sure how), which I'm sure contributed to the evening- We were seated at the back of the long banquette in a very comfortable table for 2 and were happy to let Mike and Dan cook for us, as offered.

Amuse #1: Fennel Soup with apple and celery foam

Served in a shot glass, the contrast between the warm soup and the cold foam made this dish- the soup wasn't overwhelmingly fennel-ish, but a nice start.

Amuse #2: Pistachio goat cheese and quince on pappadum

Simple and very tasty

1st course: Spanish mackerel with coriander infused bouillabaisse and leeks- Con Class ES 2001

I'm not sure of the intentions of the course order, but we followed a richer dish with a less rich dish for the fish and meat sections of the meal- The mackeral was just warm, the oily-ness of it set off nicely by the bouillabaisse- very good. The wine was not much without food, but picked up well with the dish and was a good complement.

2nd course: Wild striped bass with parsnip puree, squash and fennel broth- Heissenburg Gewurtztraminer Alsace 97

This was my favorite dish of the night- one side of the bass was crusted and the overall sweetness of the fish was offset by the parsnips and fennel. I had something very spicy in my dish which sparked the gewurz- best wine of the night as well.

3rd course- Steamed Foie Gras w/ fall vegetable garbure, "fairele Chabrot"- Henri Brunier Le Pigoulet Rouge 2001- Rhone

Back again to a richer dish to start off the meat selections of the meal- this was foie gras in broth- the texture of the foie was luxurious, as expected,- none of us had had steamed foie before and raved about this preparation- each of us received this dish in a different style cast iron pan- a nice touch. Terrific.

The rhone made for an interesting match- legions away from the typical sauternes pairing, but the wine's funkiness worked very well.

4th course- Milk fed capon with roated root vegetables, brussel sprouts and wild mushrooms

Charles Mara Zinfandel Resrve- Martinelli Jackass vineyard

Some at the table were a little disappointed that we weren't served a darker meat for the final savory course-

our server told us the story of the farm on which the capons are raised and the effect of feeding a lactose intolerant bird milk- as in cabrales' dish above, some of the pieces were skinless, while others had a well crisped skin- The flavor of the capon was excellent, with a nuttiness to it that makes it a significant step up from other poultry- I love brussel sprouts and these were very good- the mushrooms were not a significant presence in the dish. Great stuff.

I'm not a zin fan at all, but the Mara was a good example- not overly alcoholic, not overly extracted.

On to desserts-

1st dessert- 24 hour Apple Terrine with gingerbread ice cream

worked for me- the apples were smooth and grippy, and the flavor was intense- the ice cream was a little spicy- a great start to dessert.

2nd dessert wave: We each were served a separate dessert and rotated them around the table

Poached quince w/ vanilla cream caramelized almonds and pear foam- this was a layered parfait, served complete with a parfait spoon- this was good, very good when you could mine out an almond

- Bosc pear soup with fromage blanc sorbet- The soup was the best part of this dish, rich and full of pear flavor- the pears were average- they seemed "over marinated" (SG's comment) and tired-

- Concord grape financier with grape sorbet and vanilla ice cream- some corn flour made for a delicious cake- my favorite dessert of the lot- simple and pure, with excellent flavor definition.

- Quinta do Infantado Organic vintage character Porto- nice, nothing spectacular.

Overall, this was one of the better meals I've had this year- It's a lovely room and the staff's enthusiasm for the food and their ability to educate is top notch- The service was outstanding. My wife noticed the impact of the serving temperatures of the dishes- a very good example of the thought that goes into a meal at Blue Hill.

We had a lovely visit with SG, picking up where we left off after our chance meeting at jewel bako a month or so ago- looking forward to seeing her again, as well as our next meal at Blue Hill.



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All right, I admit...I may have been the one looking for a red meat or serious game bird course instead of capon...I like bloody juices on my plate :biggrin: !What a pleasure it was to share such a wonderful meal with Charles and his wife Allison. And thank you Charles for the in depth (and accurate) post.

I have to add I will definitely look forward to returning to Blue Hill...and to sharing another evening with the Smiths!

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Had dinner at Blue Hill on Thursday. Overall, I found the food bland and uneventful, but really enjoyed the atmosphere and service.

The restaurant was smaller than I expected, but I have no idea what formed my expectations :blink: Tables were a little close together, but then I not long ago ate in a Michelin 3-crown restaurant which was much more cramped. The adjacent table, where a couple were really enjoying their wine :wink: became just obtrusively noisy as the evening wore on, but it really wasn't a huge problem. The atmosphere in the restaurant buzzed nicely, and altogether I felt comfortable and relaxed.

The service was excellent. Our young server wasn't particularly knowledgeable, but he was pleasant, helpful and relaxed. So when asked to advise on a wine choice, he did little more than point us to the wine list, then upon having a wine mentioned to him he described it as "balanced and rounded" (standard I-have-heard-the-sommelier-say-that-to-customers speak :smile: ) and when I asked if the mushroom starter included porcini which were billed on the atsting menu, he said "Ah, if you had ordered the tasting menu, I would have told you we have no porcini because our supplier let us down". But he laughed at my jokes (any server gets bonus points for that, because very few other people laigh at my jokes) and he really tried hard to make us comfortable and happy. The service high-point was when the maitre d' took out dessert order. I had noticed apple terrine on the tasting menu, but it wasn't on the main menu. I asked if I could have the apple terrine, waiting for the frown and the glare and the "Oh we don't usually allow that, I'll have to ask the chef if he's willing to do that" .... but what I got was "I'm sure that will be no problem. The dish on the tasting menu is a little small, so we'll make a full size dish for you, of course". Terrific !

So let's finish with the food.

I had the pre-starter of raw yellowfin tuna. I hadn't realized they had that variety of the fish in American waters, because I've only ever seen seared tuna on American menus :raz: . This was really enjoyable, good texture and flavor.

My "real" starter was mushrooms with rice. Presentation was wonderful, with the rice packed in an oblong, and the mushroom sliced and laid over the rice, each slice overlapping. It looked like a sushi dish. The mushrooms were almost tasteless, even less flavor than canned mushrooms, and so was the rice. Nice texture, but bland.

My main was the restaurant's signature dish of poached duck. This was sliced breast, and it just didn't taste of duck. In fact it tasted of very little at all. The meat was tender, had a good texture, very soft on the tongue, but honestly it was almost flavorless. If I had eaten this blind, I would have guessed it was stewed veal. The sauce was pleasantly salty, and quite rich and strong, which clearly overpowered the meat, but then Chinese tea would have overpowered this meat.

Apple Terrine with Gingerbread Icecream completed my meal, and this was the star. The apple was held back from being a puree, just chunky enough to give good texture, strong sharp/sweet flavor, and a good spicy ginger flavour in the well textured ice cream.

Altogether, I found the meal unexceptional. Nothing to object to, but little to enjoy in the flavors. The cost was $108 per person without tip, and including about $25 per person for drinks. I found that on the high side, although not at all outrageous. I enjoyed the experience, whcih goes to prove how important ambience, good service, and good company affect my judgement of a meal. But I don't think I'll go back. Babbo for one has better food at a much lower price, I prefer the overall balance at Gramercy Tavern. Blue Hill is not my kind of food.

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I ate the poached duck on my first visit to Blue Hill, which was the least exciting meal I've had there.  I wonder why that has become a signature dish?

my thoughts on this dish mirror those of macrosan and wilfrid. the name is more intriguing than the dish. the dish had nice acidic notes and something that that could have been cinnamon, which i thought livened it up a bit. it was *good*, but probably not memorable.

i like the room though. casual, sleek. my kinda place. tables way too close together however. friendly if a little amateurish server. ralph lauren was sitting behind us. i didn't ask him if he enjoyed his poached duck. :wacko:

i also found it odd that the tasting menu consisted of only 3 savory courses. with 2 desserts. this was 65 if i recall. i'd expect 4 savory courses offered on a standard tasting menu, but perhaps i'm a glutton.

i think i'd return if i lived in the neighborhood. however, i probably won't return until i get through the ever-growing list of places that i haven't yet tried.

Edited by tommy (log)
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It's my kinda place too. That's kinda scary. :biggrin:

I find the room very elegantly designed and comfortable, but not at all plush. While hardly spartan, it's certainly not luxurious.

I haven't had the duck breast in a long time. I recall loving it at the time and I'd really like to go back and order it, but everytime the waiter says "Dan would like to cook for you," I can't say "No." Sometimes it means I'll get the tasting menu, but once in a while I'll get something really special, but the duck breast is never the main course.

The turnover in service has been the least positive thing about Blue Hill, except for the lighting level which I'd love to see raised. I've liked most of the servers. A few were amateurs in the worst sense and one or two have been even less convincing, but last time I was there we really enjoyed the service. I keep hoping the service will become as consistent as the food, but I also keep hoping the prices won't rise. Overall, the restaurant seems true to itself which, I think, adds to the general enjoyability of an evening there.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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