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MHesse

Blue Hill (NYC)

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I've bought that butter at Zabar's and, I think, Dean and Deluca. Garden of Eden may also stock it. It comes in a plastic-sealed log wrapped in a paper jacket.


"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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I've bought that butter at Zabar's and, I think, Dean and Deluca.  Garden of Eden may also stock it.  It comes in a plastic-sealed log wrapped in a paper jacket.

That's good to know. I'll look for it, thanks.

Admin: the current active thread for Blue Hill may be found here


Edited by slkinsey (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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ate here for the first time last night.. it was sublime..

we arrived just before nine, a few minutes late for our reservation.. the restaurant was 90% full, and it remained rather full until about elevenish.. we were the last two out, around 11:30, but were never rushed or made to feel uncomfortable..

the one single thing that made me happiest was the presence of two young children with their parents at the table next to us when we arrived.. we're not talking buttoned up prep school brats.. they were just finishing up dinner, and left within five minutes of our arrival, but they were fully entertained in drawing on the white paper that covers the tables.. the entire staff seemed to enjoy interacting with the family of four.. they'd left the tables on either side empty and no one seemed to mind the kids, whatsoever..

anyway.. the waitress dropped by and informed us that we could see the menu, although since we'd expressed interest in doing the tasting menu when making the reservation, the chef was offering to prepare a chef's 'suprise' tasting menu as opposed to the normal tasting menu.. we took up the offer without hesitation..

they opened up with a shot of cold watermelon soup.. it was nice and light, and perfectly clear..

moved on to a canape of goat cheese whipped with chives and a walnut.. followed almost immediately by a similar canape of testa, which was excellent, with a light drizzle of truffle oil over it..

on to an heirloom tomato salad with a tomato sorbet on top.. nice mix of red, yellow and green tomatoes, with the skin removed from the large chunks and halved grape tomatoes mixed in..

one last intermezzo of a warm corn chowder with a fried green vegetable gyoza on the side.. delicious.. i love corn chowder and this was a nice smooth version with a cool little foam in a macchiato cup..

a nice small piece of red snapper on sauteed greens and artichoke hearts with an uni and basil sauce was nice.. the fish was cooked very rare, to the point of being sushi raw in the center, but it was a nice firm piece of fish and i was pretty happy with it..

the highlight of the meal was the Berkshire pork dish.. a few slices of lean meat with one nice piece of crispy fat covered meat topping it off..

the first dessert course was a nice pile of tart berries with a champagne sabayon sauce, the presentation of which was beautiful.. the dish came out with a glass ring filled with berries surrounded by a champagne sabayon.. she removed the ring, the berries flowed over the sabayon, and bliss was there.. the tartness of the berries and the smooth creaminess of the sabayon went together amazingly well..

finished up with the heavenly raspberry souffle, with a nice little asian soup spoon of pistachio ice cream on the side..

some nice truffles came out with the coffee..

not big into wine, so after a round of cocktails the waitress matched a glass of white around the corn chowder and fish and a light red with the pork..

service was great, comfortable but polished.. i thought the value to be outstanding, considering the quantity of food, the quality of it and the service, and the amazingly reasonable cost.. based on a single visit to each, i'd rather hit this place four times than per se once, for the same price..

-j

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I couldn't find a good thread about Blue Hill (not Stone Barns), so I started a new one.

Just had dinner there this evening. Thought I would provide a short review. Please DO NOT expect high-quality writing.

My overall rating: 2 1/2 stars.

Although the food wasn't necessarily incredible, it really was really a terrific evening.

We sat in the back room (I think this is the garden when it isn't autumn/winter), which was really nice- so quiet it was almost creepy... and beautiful at the same time. You could speak with such a low voice and just relax.

Delicious gin and tonic and other mixed drinks. Really nice wine with a good selection.

Unusally good bread with good butter...

very nice amuse of turnip soup

Apps (the best part, as is so often the case): Tried delicious tomato soup with zucchini dumpling, lettuce ravioli, and bean salad. All were quite flavorful and enjoyable. They left me very hopeful for the entrees.

Entrees: didn't try the meat (interesting looking chicken), but they gave us vegetarians something that wasn't on the menu (they were quite accomodating about this). It was a rice noodle and wild mushroom soup with lettuce. The portion looked miniscule (ended up being more than enough food in the end after all the bread, wine, drinks, etc.) - it was nice but not as satisfying as I was hoping for (and our watiress knew it) - this dish just didn't hit the spot for me or for others.

Desserts: delicious - good cheese paired with interesting items like grapes and herbs (have no recollection of what they actually were), very good chocolate and caramel bread pudding.

The server -unsolicited - then brought out raspberry souffles (sp) served with pistachio ice cream. These were truly incredible and a nice last touch (well there were coconut marshmallows, but they were of no interest to me).

Leads me to service - unbelievably good, honestly the best I've had in NY. Our waitress/server/whatever was really top notch. She was friendly yet not intrusive. And just generally very good - answered questions about the menu well, took back an undercooked salmon dish without any hesitation, asked us veggies if we were ok with our main course dish, etc...

Made the evening very pleasant.

So, no food I will remember past next month, I am sure, yet I will be sure to be back.

It was just a pleasant evening.

I'd be curious to find out what other egulleters would suggest for a similar experience.


Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

- T.S. Eliot

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Since Blue Hill is highly recommended at eGullet, my wife and I are going there for our anniversary tomorrow night. We'd love to do the tasting menu but my wife doesn't really like fish and there seems to be quite a bit of fish on the tasting menu. Since everyone at the table must have either the tasting menu or the a la carte menu, do you think they would do something different on the tasting menu for my wife?

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The time I had a tasting there, we were asked if anyone at the table had any specific allergies, likes or dislikes. And, as one of our party did not eat red meat, they did different meat courses for the men and women (it was three couples).


--

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I've seen them handle some very restrictive allegies, diets, and personal choices, very well and without advance notice. However, I always suggest anyone wanting to take a tasting menu at any restaurant call ahead and mention any diet restrictions every and anywhere in the world. Don't worry much about wanting to avoid either fish or meat at Blue Hill however. The do both well enough to forget the other and do vegetables equally well enough to avoid fish and meat.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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Has anyone been recently and had the "summer menu" any suggestions for food, or interesting wine options for what is on the menu?

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I haven't been there in about a month, and before tomatoes were really in season. In past summers they've had truly excellent heirloom tomato salads and have run whole tomato tasting menus. Heirloom tomatoes are becoming more common and easier for the rest of us to find in the market, but they have their sources and like other top restaurants in the city, tap into the best of local seasonal produce. I generally have the tasting menu. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, as a long time and fairly regular patron, I get something special thats not on the menu anyway, so it's hard for me to advise on what to order. Then again, they have my complete trust so that more often than not, I don't look at the menu. The wine list is fairly small and I've generally been able to trust them on chocies when in doubt.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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 went a week ago. Had two apps that were excellent.

Roasted Corn Soup

and Tomatoes - various kinds in a vinegary dressing with herbs. Topped with a sorbet of watermelon (I think it had some tomato juice in it as well). Absolutely delicious. But then, that is what I have come to expect from Blue Hill. Tomato season is definitely not to be missed at this restaurant.

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If it's still on the menu, you must must MUST get the chilled sweet corn soup with pickled mushrooms I had a couple weeks ago. It would be impossible for me to convey how ridiculously good this dish was, and I would just end up sounding like an idiot if I tried. Just trust me.

Had it paired with a glass of a crisp bright extraordinarily tropical-fruity Australian sauvignon blanc (IIRC)--not normally my thing but a perfect match.

Also had a tomato salad with watermelon sorbet, which was predictably great--delicious heirlooms and cherry tomatoes and about six or seven differentiable forms of mint--but suffered somewhat in comparison with that soup. (IMO; I see vivin is putting them on a more equal footing.)

As for mains, the salmon was particularly incredible, probably the best I've ever had--which made it particularly humorous to read Dan Barber pronouncing it "pretty much passé" the next day in Slate. (Of course given that the author identified Blue Hill as "the chic Greenwich Village restaurant," one gets the idea he was more interested in finding support for his thesis than figuring out what Dan Barber actually feels about salmon.)

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Tomato Terroir - New York City entry #3

Ten years ago a dining companion and I shared a memorable evening at Simpson’s on the Strand, that quintessential British restaurant in the heart of London’s West End. I rank the evening:

1) Yorkshire Pudding (very delicious)

2) Dining Companion (very beautiful)

3) Service (very British)

Much of the charm of Simpson’s is its sense of place: to dine is to bathe with British aristocracy. The food was ideally paired with our cultural imagination.

Some restaurants attempt to capture an idea: a place, a time. Among current New York restaurants, Blue Hill is one that strives for the truth of terroir. And, so, after the span of a decade, D.C. and I selected Blue Hill for a post-S.o.t.S. meal.

I will gain few admirers by a modest proposal to ban anyone under thirty from public spaces, but Thomas Hobbes had a point when he critiqued social life as a “buzzing, booming confusion.” Blue Hill started life as a West Village speakeasy, and much of this busy bustle remains. As the evening progressed and the restaurant emptied, the space became increasingly soothing. We could finally appreciate the place. Blue Hill indicates that they have fifty-five seats, but sounds echoed.

Blue Hill’s claim to culinary fame is their stated commitment to local, seasonal food and to sustainable agriculture. Many of their vegetables are grown on Executive Chef Dan Barber’s farmstead in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, what they described as “nature at its best.” One admires the commitment to quality that results from raising one’s own produce, but I reject the ardent claim that a salad will be more conjugal if my mixed greens once shared the same bed.

I came to feel that Blue Hill wanted to proclaim their virtue by including too many herbs, greens, and vegetables in each dish as if to suggest: look at our cornucopia. What a plot of land! Still, aside from self-satisfaction, Blue Hill is a superior restaurant and a worthy addition to New York dining.

Our amuse bouche was a simple glass of cool pureed corn soup. It was silky smooth, showcasing the essence of corn. It was very pleasant, indeed, although perhaps not sufficiently savory as to be a perfect amuse. It lulled the senses, not awakened them. The dominant taste was the liquid purity of the corn itself. I am somewhat embarrassed to relate that in its one note, it reminded me of Moto’s infamous Doughnut Soup. The selection was also peculiar in that Blue Hill serves a more robust Chilled Corn Soup as an appetizer. Given that my D.C. ordered that Corn Soup, why serve a second corn soup as an amuse? All corn, all the time.

The appetizer soup (“Chilled Corn Soup, Preserved Tomatoes, Marinated and Pickled [Enoki?] Mushrooms) was exceptionally delicious, and the most memorable course of the evening. The soup was flecked with caviar and the pickled mushrooms provided an unexpected but welcome tang. The signature of Chef Cuevas’s cuisine [Juan Cuevas is chef at the Greenwich Village Blue Hill] is a willingness to experiment with unexpected tastes - herbal, pungent, and candied. These dishes are designed to surprise and inspire, while remaining within the canons of contemporary dining.

I selected “Maine Crabmeat Salad, Green Tomato Marmalade, Preserved Tomatoes, Basil, White Eggplant Confit, Chilled Tomato Consomme.” As the ingredient list suggests, this is a dish that creates honeyed memories. Each bite of tomato marmalade, each taste of summery basil transformed the sweet crabmeat into a confection. Less successful was the pool of consomme that surrounded the cylinder of crab salad. Consomme may now be the preferred term for “vegetable water.” The water had strong notes of cucumber and zucchini, and perhaps the diluted liquid was intended as a naturopath’s gazpacho. The effect was to create a culinary bog at the waterline. Crab surely has enough moisture without such misguided assistance.

“Poached Hudson Valley Duck, Stew of Organic Carrots Cooked in Their Own Juices with Toasted Spices and Portobello Mushrooms” was a signal success in its refusal to embrace the cliches of duck preparation. The sliced duck breast was robed by a rich carrot jus (perhaps Blue Hill has now perfected carrots with butter in their veins, but I suspect the carrots were goosed by the chef). The sauce was flavored with chives and fennel, which along with the mushrooms, gave the duck a welcome touch of bitterness, undercutting the common treatment of duck as dessert.

Our second entree was less successful (“Wild Striped Bass, Pistou of Summer Vegetables and Pureed Basil”). A pistou is a vegetable stew that demands the chef thoughtfully consider which produce belongs together. I felt that the choice of vegetables were selected to show off Blue Hill’s farm, rather than for aesthetic reasons. The problem was less the taste than the texture (the slab of bass was fresh and properly cooked). Any chef who combines lima beans, broccoli, yellow squash, and field peas plays a dangerous game. Well-cooked lima beans have a delightful snap, but they can’t avoid the slightly grainy texture that make children and gourmets intensely suspicious. With a soft vegetable like squash, the odd edges of broccoli, and firm peas, the stew might have been vegan leftovers.

Our shared dessert was also texturally challenged. I am always amused when a menu places quotation marks around a dish, preparing diners for a full serving of irony. Here was “‘Strawberries and Cream,’ Ice, Jam and Puree, Lemon Cake and Crunchy Almonds.” Ice? Jam? Crunchy Almonds? We ordered it, and so caveat emptor. The play of tastes was compelling, but next time 86 the ice.

No wine tonight, but a smooth, yet tangy, sake: “Yuki No Bosha Junmai Ginjo Sake, ‘Limited Release,’ Akita, Japan.” Sake is today’s Sauvignon Blanc. When not ordering a bottle of wine, I often select a fine sake, which I find, when well made, enhances most foods.

Blue Hill is a restaurant that demands to be taken seriously. As a mid-priced restaurant ($115/two), it delivers creativity that one might expect with a steeper tag. The chef may be too taken with the idea of displaying local produce for its own sake, but there are far more foolish claims that believing that the land speaks through the response of our senses.

Blue Hill Restaurant

75 Washington Place

New York, NY 10011

212-539-1776

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A friend and I dined at Blue Hill on Saturday night. I had the Foie Gras and the Stone Barns Pastured Chicken. The foie was competently executed (if nothing special). You expect ultra-tender chicken from Blue Hill—and you get it—but the dish was spoiled by an overpowering tomato sauce. My friend had the mushroom salad and the lamb. Oddly enough, she too felt that her entrée was spoiled by a sauce that had too much tomato in it.

On the plus side, my friend (who'd never been to BH) found the ambiance enchanting. When she left a third of her mushroom salad uneaten, the kitchen sent someone out to inquire if anything was wrong. (There wasn't; it was just a large portion, and she was saving room for the main course.) It's rare anyone will even bother to ask, and we were impressed that they noticed.

IMO, there's a hole in Blue Hill's wine list, with not enough choices in around the $40 range. I'm not saying there aren't any, but they are few and far between. I asked the sommelier for a wine in that range that would go with the chicken and the lamb. She quickly produced a wonderful new arrival (not on the menu) at $38.

Blue Hill remains a friendly place to which I'll return, but on this occasion both entrées slightly misfired.

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It's funny, I also had dinner at Blue Hill saturday night. I was there with my wife and a friend visiting from Florida.

Juan cooked for us a 7 course meal that left us speechless, this is my fourth meal at Blue Hill this year and with each meal it is just getting better and better. I'll post meal notes with pictures shortly.


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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. . . .  with each meal it is just getting better and better.  . . .

I've had so many meals there over the years that I think it would be unfair for me to expect each meal to be an improvement over the last, but there has been a wonderful sense of development over the years. There's a basic style that's continually being refined, but within that style thre are wonderful and subtle variations not only from season to season, but from year to year. It's been a long time since we've ordered from the menu, but I always take a look at the menu and recognize some of the dishes we had early on when the restaurant just opened. One of these days, I'll have to order some of them to see if they too have changed. In the meantime we usually take the tasting menu, and occasionally Dan or Juan whip up something special for an old diner. Sometimes, when we're in the mood and we've reserved far enough in advance, it's a longer menu. I really enjoy the pacing of several small courses.

This past Sunday we arrived to learn that the restaurant was in the hands of a sous chef we didn't know. There's no discredit to either Dan or Juan, that the meal ran smoothly and had we not been told, we would have assumed the top brass was cooking. Actually, it's very much to Dan's credit that he's not missed. It's what a great restaurant is all about. The first time I understood I could eat as well when the chef owner and executive chef weren't in the kitchen was at Daniel. My son-in-law was sous chef in those days, so I wasn't all that surprised, but a great chef running a great restaurant these days needs to be more than just a great cook. If Blue Hill isn't fully a great restaurant, it may simply be the lack of such niceties as silver fish forks and sauce spoons and more space between the tables. The food has long since entered the realm of greatness in our minds. I just don't find it matched in its price range and not always equaled at higher prices.

A previous meal at Blue Hill this winter was cited earlier as my best meal of the year and it came after blow out meals at Per Se and Daniel. Our first course of salad on Sunday reminded me that if Per Se's salad course measured up to it, I'd have greater understanding of Michelin's stars.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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. . . .  with each meal it is just getting better and better.  . . .

This past Sunday we arrived to learn that the restaurant was in the hands of a sous chef we didn't know. There's no discredit to either Dan or Juan, that the meal ran smoothly and had we not been told, we would have assumed the top brass was cooking. Actually, it's very much to Dan's credit that he's not missed. It's what a great restaurant is all about. The first time I understood I could eat as well when the chef owner and executive chef weren't in the kitchen was at Daniel. My son-in-law was sous chef in those days, so I wasn't all that surprised, but a great chef running a great restaurant these days needs to be more than just a great cook.

Bux,

I am glad to hear that about Blue Hill. It is one of my current favorites. However, in my opinion, you can not generalize that to Daniel if your son in law was in the kitchen. In fact, I often offer up Daniel as the example for the opposite. We have had very mediocre meals at Daniel (their 30 dollar glass of wine recommended for one of their signature dishes was so bad that we had to send it back). The one fantastic meal at Daniel happened when we were in the company of someone who knew the chef owner. The contrasting meals underscore my preference for high end restaurants that have the owner/chef in the house.

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I am glad to hear that about Blue Hill. It is one of my current favorites. However, in my opinion, you can not generalize that to Daniel if your son in law was in the kitchen. In fact, I often offer up Daniel as the example for the opposite. We have had very mediocre meals at Daniel (their 30 dollar glass of wine recommended for one of their signature dishes was so bad that we had to send it back). The one fantastic meal at Daniel happened when we were in the company of someone who knew the chef owner. The contrasting meals underscore my preference for high end restaurants that have the owner/chef in the house.

I agree with Bux that, at a great restaurant, the experience should not depend on the main chef being physically present that day. The owners of Blue Hill are curently splitting their time between the city and Stone Barns, and they are maintaining the high standards of both places. This suggests they are not merely great chefs, but also strong managers, as most executive chefs have to be.

As for Daniel, even on nights when Boulud is in the house, I doubt that he is double-checking the sommelier's recommendations. Your $30 glass of wine would probably have been the same regardless of whether Boulud was there that day.

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Bux,

I am glad to hear that about Blue Hill. It is one of my current favorites. However, in my opinion, you can not generalize that to Daniel if your son in law was in the kitchen. In fact, I often offer up Daniel as the example for the opposite. We have had very mediocre meals at Daniel (their 30 dollar glass of wine recommended for one of their signature dishes was so bad that we had to send it back). The one fantastic meal at Daniel happened when we were in the company of someone who knew the chef owner. The contrasting meals underscore my preference for high end restaurants that have the owner/chef in the house.

There are two different factors here. One of them is knowing that the owner/chef is in the house. The other is knowing the chef or the owner, which is often achieved simply by becoming a regular at any restaurant. If you're served better food when you're with someone who knows the chef owner, it might be considered some evidence that favoritism comes into play.

On the other hand, if the third in command can turn out food that is flawless and inspired without a supervisor, it means there is great depth and strong executive management in the kitchen. It's the kind of kitchen that I would expect to show up in the resumes of future chefs, because the smart ones will look for these kinds of kitchens when they leave school and the talented ones will usually land the jobs in these kitchens.

As for inconsitency at Daniel, I don't have any experience n that. We started eating there long before we met our son-in-law and one of our best meals, was after he left. Somewhere in a dark recess in my heart, I had wanted the meal to fall short so I could believe said son-in-law was responsible for Daniel's success. In fact I think he was, but not uniquely so. He's one of a breed and NY is blessed with a number of very talented sous chefs whose names you may never know. Be that as it may, there are several differences between my dining unknown in the original Daniel and dining in the one that exists today. Even without a relative on the inside, I am now known to some of the staff and the restaurant itself is a much larger one serving a greater number of covers. Size alone doesn't make for inconsistency, but it's an enabler.

One of the most interesting comments I've heard about dining at Daniel from a first time guest was about how a waiter's interest seemed to pick up as the table made it's depth of interest in the food known. There's no excuse for that to have to happen, but some restaurants attract a tourist crowd simply because of their international exposure and staff too can become jaded. I think this is the same thing many Americans experience at restaurants in Paris which attract too many rich people who go there simply because they can afford to do so. Daniel also offers a fairly large menu. I've dined at multistarred restaurants in France where a specialty of the house is transcendent, but another dish just seems above average.

Knowing that you found a wine so bad it had to be returned doesn't tell me much. Taste is so subjective. There are wines I love and my wife won't drink. Was the wine corked? Was it off? Did you see it selling for $6.95 a bottle retail or did you just not like it? Knowing that I can return a wine by the glass simply because it's not to my taste speaks very highly of the service. By the way, I know Jean Luc who used to be sommelier and once or twice I've returned a wine by the glass. At least once, my wife returned a glass of the same wine I enjoyed. I don't recall if Daniel Boulud was in the house or not. As oakapple commented, it wouldn't have mattered. Sometimes sommerliers recommend a classic match, at other times they go out on a limb with a very personal suggestion that doesn't work for everyone.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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Here is the set menu for the New Years eve first seating:

Marinated Scallops

Herring Caviar and Pistachios, Lemon and Olive Oil

or

Cauliflower Soup

Spinach Ravioli and Almond Milk Cloud

---

Maine Lobster

Quince Puree and Braised Lettuces Gewurztraminer and Celery Root Broth

---

Duck (I was told poached)

Cabbage Roulade and Creamy Grains

or

Venison

Endive Roasted and Raw, Spicy Cranberry Marmalade

---

Ruby Red Grapefruit and Basil

---

Waffles

Maple Ice Cream and Maldon Salt

or

Chocolate 2006

90 dollars Wine pairing + 40 dollars

The second seating is a 7 course and is 135 dollars, but I have somewhere else to be at 9 so I opted for the first seating.

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From my understanding an announcement was made at Blue Hill on New Years Eve that Michael Anthony will be leaving Blue Hill Stone Barns to open his own restaurant in the near future.

Wishing the very best to Michael on this new endeavor!


Robert R

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My best to Michael as well. If rumors are correct, his restaurant will be even closer to me than Blue Hill, which itself is close enough for me to walk even if the weather is inclement. Dan spends almost all of his time up at Stone Barns and the kitchen there is large enough to require talent in depth. Thus I don't expect to see any change in the quality of food at Blue Hill. If anything, periodic new blood will keep the kitchen on its toes.

The smaller downtown Blue Hill has earned a reputation with Mrs. B and myself, as being consistent even when Dan and Juan are not there. As I've said about other restaurants and chefs, this is a compliment to the chefs rather than a dig. It takes a truly dedicated and talented chef to hire and train employees well enough to leave them in charge when you're not there. It's very difficult for a fine restaurant to succeed with a chef who doesn't have executive qualities that match his cooking talents.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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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My wife and I had dinner at Blue Hill NYC last night. It was my first time.

I don't have dish by dish notes or pictures, I am not nearly an elegant enough writer to do the experience justice anyway.

8 hours later, I am still dumbfounded and speechless. It was perhaps the finest meal and complete dining experience I have ever had. I am still mentally debating which dish was my favorite ect.

The decor is amazingly comfortable and the front of the house staff is attentive without you ever knowing they are there. Franco seems to know the name of every person and everyone is treated like a regular. Claire noticed we were not drinking wine and offered a complementary non-alcoholic drink that was wonderful with the food. Little things are never "little".

We are big supporters of the "greenmarket" and "slow food" movements and go out of our way to cook and eat and buy to show our support. This meal was to me, the most perfect example of those ideals at their absolute very best. Each ingredient and combination oozed freshness and tenderness and the flavors were nothing short of explosive.

I will for sure look for excuses, work and play related to find my way back to Washington Place and Blue Hill NYC.

Mike


Edited by NYC Mike (log)

-Mike & Andrea

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Guys, Let's Put on a Meal New York City Entry #108 Blue Hill at Stone Barns/Blue Hill

The first serious meal that I ate in New York this year was at Blue Hill. So to provide symmetry my friend and I decided to return, but now to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. We dutifully made a commitment and assured the reservationist that nothing could prevent us from showing up at the appointed time. And so we fought our way through Grand Central. Upon alighting in Tarrytown with plenty of time in the gray, thick, heated air, we hailed a cab to be told that a storm had blown through and traffic was slow. Yet, our cabbie was a roadmaster and we arrived at Stone Barns at precisely 5:30, just as promised.

Stop the presses! Tarrytown had just experienced what in New York passes for a tornado, not an Oklahoma Supercell, but what my friends in Tulsa call "a bit of wind." The storm knocked out local electricity. And after our long trek, we were informed by a staffette that the kitchen was closed.

Say it ain't so, Dan. At most restaurants this might be a problem, but Blue Hill should treat it as a challenge. This is a restaurant that prides itself on its ingredients. No heat? OK, let's picnic. At 5:30, there were daylight hours left and a few candles were to be had.

This was an opportunity for Dan Barber to demonstrate that cojones are not just to slice and fry. Here is where we separate the chef from the sheep. A stream of hungry diners appeared, each turned away with an apology and a smile. We were informed that the staff didn't want to enter the coolers because the food would spoil! Sheesh! An opportunity squandered!

Use that luscious asparagus, luxurious berries, oysters, clams, apples, beans, mint, lettuce, nuts, and guanciale. Whip up some Hollandaise. Who needs a blender? Pour oil and vinegar. Open some wine. Start a campfire for S'mores. Have the staff at Blue Hill downtown form a caravan. Show the customers your stuff and show it gratis.

If Chef Barber was unwilling to turn lemons into lemonade, we weren't. Returning to New York, we plotted to visit the Blue Hill farmstead in the Village. And we were welcomed by Franco, the Blue Hill manager and his congenial staff. Yes, Blue Hill had electricity, but somehow the power never satisfied the air conditioner. Blue Hill was a steaming meadow until the restaurant emptied out, and as Blue Hill is a tight restaurant with low ceilings, and absence of a cool breeze was noticeable.

Still, the meal was noticeably superior to my first meal on the Hill. Hoping to capture the Barns oeuvre, we selected the Farmer's Feast, and began with a pungent, elegant and herbal Garden Green Gazpacho. It was a nicely chilled blend of vegetables, perhaps peppers, parsley, green tomatoes, and garlic. The amuse was paired with an olive oil financier, a cake that satisfied through its subtlety and being paired with the more potent soup.

Summer Bean and Herb Salad with Pistachios and Stone Barns Lardo, another cold dish (get the point!) was the high point of the meal. This is the cuisine that Blue Hill is known for. Profound and evocative ingredients, transformed but without being gussied up. The wax and green beans were luxurious, even the parsley - not one of my beloved foodstuffs - was as bright as a garden morning. This was a delightful opening for an agricultural repast.

The Lightly Smoked Lobster with Creamless Corn Chowder, Guanciale (cured pig's jowl) and Clams was another sublime dish. Granted Lobsters are not to be found up the Hudson, but they had a freshness that compared with any local fish camp. The dish was airy, and with bright summer corn was a candidate for the ideal summer dinner. Splendid.

The Blue Hill Farm Pastured Chicken with Roasted Nugget Potatoes, Local Chanterelles and Black Trumpet Mushrooms was as fine a piece of chicken placed before me since I was last at Jean's in Mount Vernon, Kentucky for their pan-fried poultry. Here was a tender, moist, flavorful bird, succulent and sensuous. If the potatoes and mushrooms didn't improve the meat, they didn't need to.

Both desserts were a letdown. The Cherry Soup with Mint Sorbet was a mismatch. Not only was the sorbet grainy and harsh, but it clashed with the sweetness of the soup. Few sorbets are unpleasant, but this was not a dish to reorder.

Steamed Cheesecake with Marinated Blueberries was served in a mason jar. Aside from the idiosyncrasy of its presentation, it was ordinary and could benefitted from a more generous helping of the marinated berries. At a moment at which exquisite low-bush blueberries are taking flight on the hillsides of Maine, these berries were pedestrian.

Blue Hill is ingredient-driven, as evident in our appetizers and entrees. And had our intended destination been the steamy streets of Washington Square Park, we would have been well-pleased. But for this night we wished to be gourmets eating on the land, and no cyclone should have upended our fantasy. Dan, you're not in Oz anymore.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

630 Bedford Road

Pocantico Hills, New York

914-366-9600

Blue Hill

75 Washington Place (at 6th Avenue)

Manhattan (Greenwich Village)

212-539-1776

For photos of the meal see: My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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Per Eater, Frank Bruni reviews Blue Hill in tomorrow's New York Times. Eater is taking the odds on three stars, which I agree is the most likely possibility. William Grimes gave the restaurant two stars in 2000, and it would be hard to justify a re-review unless Bruni believes an upgrade is in order. Based on the restaurant's reputation and the three stars Bruni awarded Blue Hill at Stone Barns a couple of years ago, a downgrade seems highly unlikely.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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