Blue Hill - Stones Barn review
Went to Blue Hill last night to celebrate my 30th. The atmosphere was pleasant, it was nice to be out of NYC and on a farm.
We each ordered the 3 course tasting. I was about to jump at the Farmer's 7 course tasting where the menu is prepared just for you and off menu, but the entire table has to order that way.
I started with a yummy pickled ramp gin martini. Had never had anything like this before.
First two tasters were a pork breaded cutlet on a stick, and a mini 'burger' of beat paste on crunchy dough.
We then received mixed greens with a 'farmers' egg - something they are known for. Dreamy medium boiled then breaded deep fried egg. Have no idea how they did this, amazing.
Next I had the hake in pea and asparagus sauce. This was the some of the best piece of fish I have ever eaten. The peas were sweet and the asparagus was crunchy. When i had eaten most of the solids, I has a nice fresh green fish soup. My girlfriend has the gnocchi with the morels. She said it was great.
By this time, we had ordered a half bottle of the Borarolo. A nice complement (I like bold wines), but a bit spend-y for a half bottle ($52).
Next up was the third course: she had the chicken and I had the veal. Her chicken was succulent, and I had never had a chicken breast as dense as this before. Such strong flavor and a nice crisp on the skin.
But oh no - my veal. Center was really tough. I confirmed with the presentation waiter that this was in fact the veal, and he could see that I was only eating around the center, so he took it away, handed me a menu and said - select something else with no hesitation. I felt bad, given you see everything your about to eat as you drive in. So to think, this was messed up somewhere along the way to end up as waste didn't sit well with me. I will probably never eat veal again.
The veal was replaced with the Berkshire pork. Quite tasty, and dense meat (like the chicken) with a side of pork belly/bacon? The pork was over salted (and I like salty pork) and the belly/bacon was cold. The meat was on top of something like hominy that had very little flavor. Over all, the two 'land' proteins were a disappointment.
For desert I had a rhubarb compote with goat cheese and fresh honey. Great flavor profile. The cheese was almost like ice cream (waitress called it their cheesecake). We also had cappuccinos, which were also excellent.
Given the effort to get there, and the disappointment in the two proteins, it will be a long time before we will go back. I am really happy we went, and the meal will definitely be something to remember, just wish the middle of the meal hadn't been derailed.
Returning the veal was so upsetting, I just wanted to move on to the desert. I was too full to try something else at that point. So no, I didn't make them aware of this.
The desert was a nice rebound.
I ordered another glass of wine as I finished my veal-paired wine while I waited for the pork. The pig-paired wine was not comped. Nothing was comped. I am sure I could've raised a stink, but I just wanted to move on, and will not return (never say never, the egg on the salad was amazing) and never eat veal again.
I had a very similar experience at Blue Hill Stone Barns. Besides an extraordinary cocktail, and the salad with the egg, I found the food entirely unremarkable, the service amateurish, and the prices (we had the 7 course dinner and wine) absurd for the food and service we received. I would love to return to have a cocktail at the bar, and maybe get some eggs to bring home.
I had a very similar experience the last (and I mean LAST) time I was there. The food was unremarkable, but the service was inexcusable. We had an early reservation (5:30) and told we were told we had to vacate the table by 8:30. The service was so slow, we had to ask them to speed it up between every course, we were not served what the waiter had told us would be on the tasting menu (specifically soft shell crabs and foie gras) and our dessert was served WITH the check as it was 8:30 by the time they finally brought it out. AND, the one food we requested not be included in any of the courses (fennel) was in the dessert (why ask). At $450 for 3 people I certainly don't expect a check served with my dessert!
We did discuss how significantly different this experience had been compared with the other times (approx 5) we'd eaten there with the manager who was disingenuous (and disinterested) at best ... We were not offered a drink in the bar, an option to have dessert in the bar or anything else that indicated that they gave a *****
This experience was light years away from when they first opened ... resting on their laurels? On the full (for now) reservation book?
It's too bad, sorry to have to cross this off my list.
We were shocked as well ... as I said, we'd been there numerous times before. What was particularly appalling was the complete and total disregard and patronizing way in which the management responded (or didn't respond) .
Any establishment is entitled to an off day, but I would think the management would have been more appreciative of the comments (which, by the way, were made discreetly in private - the manager and one person from ou party - when we had left our table).. Including his usual (subtle) test of timing how long it takes to remove an empty cocktail/wine glass from the table.
BTW, I grew up in the restaurant business and I am well aware of all that goes into a place like Blue Hill (my Father's restaurant was a similar world class restaurant in NY). My father had been to Blue Hill (has since passed away) and was as impressed with the whole restaurant as OrganicLife.
maybe blue hill in the city is more reliable. I think a lot of people think that the westchester location is nicer cause of the setting but I have been to the place several times and eaten at the cafe but never at the restaurant (I am waiting for the special opportunity where someone with money will take me, perhaps for a special occasion). In manhattan, it is much harder to rest on your laurels and they are probably more consistent. In westchester, there aren't any restaurants like it.