NYC: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 has been a great foodie year for me. Living in New York, I've had so much great food accessible to me and the number of Michelin Star restaurants in this city is just ridiculous. As the year wraps up, I will be doing a Seven Michelin Star Restaurants in Seven Days series.

To kick things off, Day 1 begins with a restaurant that doesn't get rated by the Michelin Guide - Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Blue Hill has a family of restaurants, there is Blue Hill New York that's in Manhattan (which does have 1 Michelin Star), and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which is an hour north of the city. The restaurant in Manhattan serves food both an a la carte menu and a 5 course tasting menu, while the restaurant at Stone Barns only features a tasting menu of 5, 8 or 12 courses. Still haven't completely figured out why the branch at Stone Barns doesn't get rated, however, it's a consensus that the food and experience is the same, if not better than Blue Hills New York.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns at night, it's DARK outside the city!!

Blue Hill is a farm to table concept, and Stone Barns is the farm that sources the majority of their produce and meats. Often times, people who make the trek out to Stone Barns take either a self-guided or private tour of the farm prior to the meal. Unfortunately for me, our reservation was at 6:30pm and the sun sets in December at around 4:30pm. That would have left me and my party with about 2 hours to spare, hanging out in the lounge, so we opted out of exploring the grounds. So, learn from my experience, if you're planning to come out here, either prepare to have a late lunch or an early dinner to take full advantage of the farm! Making a reservation shouldn't be too hard either, just hop on over to OpenTable to grab one.

Grand Central Station

Getting There

Since this is an hour north of Manhattan, you can either get here by driving (rent a zipcar?), or you can hop on the Metro North from Grand Central and take a train to Tarrytown. From there, it will be easy for you to grab a cab and take a 10-15 minute cab ride over to the farm. The train round trip will cost you about $18 round trip, and the taxi will run you another $20. 

Driving into Stone Barns through the darkness only made me wish we got there in the daylight to enjoy the greenery. However, even in the dark, it was easy to see how charming the farm is, and especially with its Christmas lights and decor.

Warm and welcoming Christmas Decor inside and out

Upon our arrival, we were asked to wait at the bar as our table finished up. The entire space is really warm and inviting. The cocktails at the bar all featured seasonal ingredients from the farm - the Dark and Farmy featuring Stone Barn squash, and my drink, the Pickled Ramp Gibson made with a Blue Hill gin and pickled ramps picked from the farm. With a martini on an empty stomach, my night started off a bit tipsy, resulting in the less than ideal food pics that you will see featured in this post (woops!).

All of our seasonal cocktails from Blue Hill

A journal documenting monthly harvests as a preview to what's going to be served

Since the restaurant prides themselves in the freshness of everything, the meal doesn't actually come with a menu, rather a journal that documents the freshest ingredients per month. For our meal, we chose the 8 course farmer's feast in order to keep it safe, not wanting to overstuff ourselves. I think by the end of the meal, we were glad that we chose 8 instead of the 12. The 8 course actually came with about 14 different dishes for us to taste from, including the amuse bouche.

Vegetables on a fence - one of the most iconic starters at Stone Barns

The course began with Vegetables on a fence, which featured raw vegetables washed in a salt bath and drizzled with a bit of olive oil. While this seems a bit on the simple side, I thought it was a great start to the meal since it really set the tone of what were going to enjoy for the rest of the night: extremely fresh food, harvested from the farm that we were eating it in!

I love the metal beams details inside the barn, a new twist on a classic farm house.

The restaurant looks like it held about 15-20 parties at one time, and the booths we sat on were the most comfortable!

Again, I was a bit buzzed throughout the night, so you'll have to excuse the semi-blurry pictures (was using the wrong settings!) and since there was no actual menu given, I've done my best at recalling the specifics of this meal.

Whoopie Pie

Blue Hill Farm Beet yogurt, Grapenuts, and Beet Sugar

Lucky for me, one of the key harvests of the winter is beets, and I LOVE beets! My friends always make fun of me whenever I order it because it's seen as such an old lady food. But guess what, I love it, and I don't care. So, naturally, some of the starting dishes were my favorite. The beet yogurt was fresh and the grapenuts gave the dish such a great texture. Then we also were served beet burgers and Parsnips fries wrapped in panchetta and sesame seeds.

Beet Burger and Parsnips Fries wrapped in panchetta

Pig Liver Terrine sandwiched between a Chocolate flake

A Fall and Winter Salad with a mushroom gelee

The next dish was another one of my favorites, even though it was so simple, every bite was simply delightful! We were served table side ricotta that was put into a bowl to further strain some of the liquids in the cheese. It came with a warm fluffy piece of brioche served with warm spinach marmelade with hints of lemon zest. The simplicity of the dish really stood out and allowed the freshness of the ingredients to really shine.

Fresh made ricotta, with ingredients milked from the animals at the farm!

Brioche with a spinach marmalade

Smoked Trout and Carrot Puree - unexpectedly delicious

I don't think I've ever enjoyed a bread course so much before trying Blue Hill's Onion Potato bread, served with a Beet and Carrot Salt, Lardo (from the a Stone Hill pig, of course), and Blue Hill Milk Butter. I usually try not to eat more than one piece of bread in a tasting menu, but here, I really couldn't refrain myself from using the fresh made butter with the beet salt. Truly another standout for me.

Onion Potato Bread, Blue Hill butter, Lardo, Beet Salt and Carrot Salt
Soft Boiled Egg, Beans and Hamhock, served with a wine that you pour in at end to slurp up!
Sunchoke Gnocchi with Field Mushrooms and Brussel Sprouts brushed with a Green Onion/Oil puree

The final savory course was a vension, which is another seasonal ingredient a part of their Winter Harvest. In most of my experiences of multi-course tasting menus, the meat course is one to usually disappoint since the innovation and creativity shines in the courses before it. However, the last savory dish in the feast was just as good as all the dishes before it. The meat was cooked perfectly, and the preparation of the venison sausage really helped shake up the soft texture of the medium-rare seared venison. Like every course before it, the dish left me wanting more (but obviously by now I was quite full, and more would probably not be a good idea).

Venison with Venison sausage, Sweet Potato and Mashed Potato with Chocolate

Apple Brandy Sorbet

The desserts here also hit on every target that I wanted out of the meal. First we were served a really nice and light palette cleanser, with an apple and a light brandy sorbet. Then, a dessert with all things chocolate - a Chocolate Compote. Finally a play on fruit and nuts, their apple and sunflower seed brittle was just a great finish to the meal.

Chocolate Compote

Apples, Sunflower Seed Brittle and Raspberry Chocolate Truffles

All in all, the farmer's feast at Blue Hill was one of the most well rounded meals I've had all year without any major criticism for any dish served. They truly let the fresh ingredients stand out in the dish and is a great place to bring friends and family who may not necessarily be the most adventurous eaters (duck hearts at Atera anyone?), but enjoys a great meal. Also not for those who don't eat vegetables, because they will NOT enjoy the experience since the entire meal was so focused on the fresh garden vegetables grown at Stone Barns.

Happy by the fireplace post feast

Thank you to Pauline for inviting us and bringing along Christine (from MasterChef!!!) for us to enjoy the Stone Barns Farmer's Feast! I'll definitely have to come back another time so I can explore the farm in the spring.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns | Yelp

630 Bedford Rd
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591

(914) 366-9600

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