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Blue Hill at Stone Barn is RUINED for me

I took my then-boyfriend, now husband to Blue Hill in Washington Place for his 30th birthday about 2 years ago. We had a great time - it was a fantastic meal and I was impressed with what they could do in November. Since then, we had wanted to check out Blue Hill at Stone Barn - the idea was to make a day trip of it, maybe do some antiquing and hitting up Blue Hill at Stone Barn for a 6 / 6:30 reservation.

I'm no dummy - I know they open up reservations 2 months / 60 days in advance and Saturday nights are very popular. I also know that living in downtown Manhattan, the last thing I want is a "day" trip that ends with a 9:30 dinner and a 45+ minute drive back to the city. Thus, I dutifully count the days backwards and target a mid September date. I set my reminder in my calendar to log onto OpenTable / call at the appropriate time.

I log on to OpenTable at 8:45am and check the availability. Damn! All of the early time slots are taken. (Hmm... that's weird, I never heard of tables being open so early - must be kind of odd. I think it's odd because I believe the Danny meyer's restaurants release tables at 10:00 am exactly 28 or 30 days in advance - it's a nice system, it works. )

AHA! Maybe I will try CALLING them to make a reservation - maybe there are tables that are not available via OpenTable.

Me: Hi, I wanted to inquire about a reservation for Saturday, September --- for a party of 2
Reservationist: The only availability we have is 9:30 pm.
Me: Hmm... that's rather late. Are there any tables that are not reserved via OpenTable so I can call back?
Reservationist: No, our system is connected through theirs and all of the tables can be booked on OpenTable.
Me: OK, well, do you know when the tables become available on OpenTable for reservations?
Rservationist: No
Me: But you just said that your reservation system and that of OpenTable are fully connected. How do you not know when tables become available on OpenTable?
Reservationist: I don't know.
Me: Well, you see my point - I can't figure it out on OpenTable and if YOU DON"T KNOW, who else am I supposed to ask? (I admit to getting pretty miffed at this point and sound frustrated)
Reservationist: Well, I don't know how OpenTable works.
Me: But it's YOUR reservation system that is hooked into theirs? How do you NOT know???
...
Me: OK, well, can you find out if I call you back tomorrow with the same question

*click*

THE RESERVATIONIST HAD HUNG UP ON ME!

I wasn't looking for special favors. I just wanted some information and it strikes me as incredibly odd that the reservationist couldn't answer a question about their reservation system. Also, and maybe I am a spoiled customer, but for someone who is likely going to spend AT LEAST $300 on a dinner for two, and spend 45 minutes EACH way to travel for dinner - well, I would have hoped for a lot more helpfulness on her part. At any rate, there are any number of fantastic restaurants in Manhattan, that it's just not worth the bother to head out there.

P.S. As a matter of principal, I'm also boycotting the Blue Hill on Washington Place.
P.P.S. I'm also frequently asked to give restaurant recommendations - I'm no longer recommending Blue Hill.
P.P.P.S. That reservationist was an unhelpful jerk.

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Blue Hill Cafe
2427 Route 52, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533

P.S. Restaurant
100 Rano Blvd Ste 8, Vestal, NY 13850

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  1. That's really a shame you had that experience. I would call back and ask for the manager or e-mail the manager. Try X2O in Yonkers, it's great dining with great views. OK not much antiquing in Yonkers but you can always drive a little north for that.

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    X2O
    71 Water Grant Street, Yonkers, NY 10701

    1. jfood never trusts OT for th 60 day rule...lesson learned.

      what he does, and just did for BF was see how far out he can schedule and as of today they accept reservation through Sept 19 but not Sept 20, where it states...beyond maximum. interestin in that day 60 is the 20th.

      1. I understand your frustration but don't let one bad reservationist spoil your opinion of the place! Write a note to the restaurant. I'm sure Dan Barber wouldn't want his place being represented that way.

        1 Reply
        1. re: grouchomarx

          You're right - it would be better of me to have raised the issue directly with the restaurant instead of taking it to chowhound. I'm sure no restaurant wants to attract that kind of publicity, and they otherwise do very fine work in promoting sustainable, local cooking.

          I did feel pretty heated after the conversation. I really did want to make a nice day of it and we were really going to make the effort more or less just to dine at the restaurant - the whole antiquing stuff was added so that we wouldn't just be driving up there and back for dinner.

          The other issue that leaves me feeling aggrieved is that the reservation system is unclear - I've jumped through the requisite hoops to score reservations at some of the finest restaurants in NYC (Babbo, Eleven Madison, and Momofuku Ko). But at least I knew WHAT and I needed to do and WHEN I needed to do it. Bad enough that you have to think about dinner plans 60 days in advance (REALLY? 60?!?) but to not know what to advise prospective patrons about when to call or log-on is inexcusable.

        2. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is probably the best restaurant in the whole metro area. We have eaten there for several special occasions and have always been treated like royalty. It is a true dining experience. Unfortunately , you got some jerk on the phone. You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don't go there. And by the way, I was once told the reservations go on OpenTable 60 days in advance.

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          Blue Hill Cafe
          2427 Route 52, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533

          2 Replies
          1. re: samka

            Yes, I tried booking it 60 days in advance. Problem is that I have no idea what time of day the tables become available on OpenTable for a reservation for 60 days in adance.

            By 8:45 am, no tables were available other than for 9:30pm slots. Does this mean that I need to start checking on the hour every hour beginning at midnight? At least with Ko and the Danny Meyers restaurants, resy's are available for the furthest date out (28 and 7 days, respectively) at set times - 10 am. I just don't know (and neither did the reservationist) know what time tables for a date that is 60 days out becomes available on OpenTable.

            1. re: susiederkins

              as has been posted several times on other threads BHSB is over-hyped. the food at BH is better. It is a stunning place and it has great visions & ideals behind it but the food is lacking something that it shouldn't be at those prices and sourcing. Some people love it and that's great--hopefully they will continue to spend their money on local businesses instead of chains but IMO there is tastier food all over the "metro area."

          2. Do you have AMEX? I think their concierge service can help with reservations at BHSB.

            1. Go into the Wash. Square location and complain. Then have the hostess/manager call Stone Barns and get you a ressy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rifkind81

                I feel for susiederkins. One of my main gripes about restaurants is the neo- teen host or hostess or as in this case reservationist that won’t give you the time of day or puts you in a hell hole of a table. I am a sophistaced frequent diner, and called a VIP open table member yet I have on occasion been sent to the dungeon by the neo teen. The last time that happened was at Morello in Greenwich. My response was to turn around and walk out. The instructions that the restaurant administration must give to these mindless authoritarians is mindblogging since it is so self destructive. It’s time that restaurants realize that their success is not just ambience, service and food but how one is treated from the beginning to the end. BRAVO susiederkins!

                1. re: Sonnyno

                  Enjoy the cafe for lunch, that way you get to experience the property and some of the food and save lots of money.

                  I agree with the above posters, if the FOTH doesn't make you feel welcome, why bother. I also agree about the hype, I've eaten there and gone to cooking classes and have never been "wowed" by the food at the restaurant. I do enjoy the little cafe for a nice panini and salad though.

              2. I have not been nor do I plan to go (especially after seeing the Top Chef episode) . . .IMHO, it's designed for people who have never been on a farm to see where their food comes from. Support your local farms - buy some sustainable, organic poultry/meat and veggies then cook it yourself (provided you can cook, of course).

                With so many restaurants, I say NEXT :)

                2 Replies
                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  why after seeing the Top Chef episode? I recall that was filmed at the farm in Massachusetts, not at the location in NY.

                  Not that I disagree about the hype of this place. I've been twice and have felt rather ripped off both times.

                  edited to add: there is an enormous amount of confusion on the web as to whether it was "Blue Hill Farm" or "Blue Hill at Stone Barns" (in either case with Dan Barber judging). I recall it being Blue Hill Farm.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    Funny you should say that - I DO enjoy cooking and we are extremely fortunate to live minutes away from the Union Square greenmarket. We love having the greenmarket so close by. I used to be a member of a CSA, but found that too much of the produce ended up into the compost bucket, due to our somewhat erratic work schedules - sadness!

                    Along the same themes of service, I guess I'm miffed since the whole customer interaction thing starts at the FOTH. Case in point, we just went to Maialino last night - first time there.

                    We arrived early, and of course, the host apologized for our table not being ready - again, we WERE early. He suggested that we wait by the bar, and I told him that we might wander across the lobby to check out the bar in the Gramercy Park Hotel. Probably a little disappointed that they would lose business, but he quickly obliged and said that if that's what we wanted, then he could find us there too. We wandered over to the Gramercy Park Hotel bar, just to peek at the interior but ended up back at the Maialino bar with a glass of wine each, and partly that was due to the host being so accomodating.

                    Food was VERY GOOD. Service was impeccable, professional and not too obtrusive. Our server was great and let us know when we were ordering too much - we had ordered the suckling pig (signature Maialino dish) for two. The suckling pig was fantastic. Although I could quibble with his recommendation when we were about to order too much food, he WAS right, but then again, I wouldn't have minded if we had ordered too much food because it would have left us more suckling pig to take home for dinner. (leftover melt in your mouth suckling pig for dinner tonight :)

                    Food was very good and I can definitely recommend. I've had better food, but it kind of brings home to me that a lot of the whole "restaurant" experience to me is about SERVICE. If one is going to spend $125 - 150 pp, you really want it to feel like you are getting a great experience from it. We're pretty good (I do the majority of the cooking, and the SO chips in by rolling out fresh, home-made semolina pasta when it's pasta night) and I daresay we eat very well when we cook at home, so to me, it's just not worth the time and money if you don't feel welcome at a restaurant from the get-go.

                    Considering how easy some dishes are to make at home (e.g. think bone marrow with parsley salad on toast) ambiance and service really are such a key part of the fine dining experience.