Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Last weekend, Jess and I took a ride up to Tarrytown for a belated birthday lunch at the famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant. The trip from NYC takes about 60-90 minutes (subway > metro north > cab) but as you'll read it's well worth it.

The grounds at Stone Barns, a non-profit farm, are beautiful, especially in the fall with the foliage in full force. You're free to walk around the farm at your own leisure and we took advantage of this by spotting some cows, sheep, turkeys, and our favorite, pigs!

As soon as you enter the dining room in the restaurant, you know you're in for a special dining experience. The service is the best of the best... it feels like the ratio of wait staff to diner is 3:1. Plus, everyone is dressed up and the restaurant is decorated in a classy, cozy, fall-tastic manner.

There are no menus at Blue Hill. Guests select how many courses they want and tell the waiter about any allergies they have.  No matter what dishes they're serving the day you go, they are using fresh ingredients from their farm, with the goal being to highlight the food and flavors of the surrounding Hudson Valley.

They start you off with a handful of pre-appetizer bites including a shot of Blue Hill V9, potato & leek chips, as well as a pancetta skewer. The shot of V9 immediately brings a smile to your face when you realize the freshness of the veggies you're drinking. The whimsical presentation of the chips illustrates how much fun they are having in the kitchen with these ingredients.

Our first course was a beet salad. The beets were served alongside fresh yogurt and greens. It will come as no surprise that the beets were bursting with flavor and we polished off every bite on our plates.

Course number two was a vegetable soup, but this wasn't just any veggie soup. This soup was topped with a fried egg that oozed yolk as soon as you dipped into it. We weren't quite sure how they were able to bread the egg, hard boil it, and still serve it with a running yolk, but we'll let that remain a secret. All we know is that they hit us with another course that showcased fresh and delicious vegetables with a serious twist.

I believe it was at this time in the meal when they came out with the best bread we've ever sampled. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, baked with onions mixed in, and served alongside creamy butter. Good god this was unbelievable!

Course three was grilled pork that left a little to be desired. While the curried grains served alongside the dish and the flavors of the pork were both great, we felt that the pork was a bit too fatty for our liking.  It didn't 'wow' us the same way the previous courses had.

They ended on a high note with course #4... an apple strudel with lemon ice cream. It had just the right amount of sweetness and texture, and left us with a big smile on our faces.

After a 2+ hour dining experience, our meal at Blue Hill had come to end. We both loved the meal and the experience of Stone Barns and were hopeful that we'd find our way back here in the near future.

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