Dined at Blue Hill last night.
I wrote up this review on Yelp but figured I'd share on here as well since I use this board so often. Sorry if it's not detailed enough but I'd be happy to answer any specific questions.
My fiancé and I have been wanting to go to Blue Hill for a long time and finally managed to eat there last night. We’ve been excited about these reservations for awhile and pretty much knew before we walked in that we were going for the tasting menu. Let me start off by saying that the service was fantastic. We actually had reservations several months ago but due to a problem with their boiler, they had to call us and cancel. They must have noted it on their computer because as soon as we sat down, the hostess came over and apologized once again (after they apologized on the phone) and gave us each a complimentary glass of champagne. Whether they do that for everyone or not, it was still a very nice way to start our dinner. Once we settled in, drank a little champagne and got comfortable, we started noticing the people around us and the general atmosphere of the place. We were both surprised at how stuffy it was. Some other reviews mentioned that it wasn’t stuffy, but I completely disagree. Let me add that it wasn’t because of the staff there, they were all easy-going, friendly and extremely knowledgeable, but it was the people around us. I felt like I was dining in Midtown or the UES restaurant rather than a place in the West Village. We weren’t expecting a “hip" restaurant, but it took us both by surprise. Women in pearls, men with sweaters draped around their shoulders or in uniform type business suits. And I’m not talking about a few, I’m talking about 80%of the place. Me walking in with red pants and a leather jacket and my fiancé in jeans, felt a bit… inappropriate? I'm not saying anything is wrong with that, just not our cup of tea.
Now, on to the food – first, the breadsticks. One word… amazing! I noticed that everyone around us had these scrumptious looking breadsticks and I started to get worried when 10 minutes passed and we didn’t get any yet (oh no! did they forget about us?) but then I saw them come out of the kitchen on a tray (ahh..excitement!) with 3 little dipping additions, which is heaven for me. The butter was clearly made by some very special ingredients and the BEET spice, was one of the best spices I’ve tried. We were slightly obsessed with it and it was a challenge to refrain from eating the 2nd serving of breadsticks since we finished the first. On to our tasting menu, first came the matzo ball soup (since it was Passover, which I thought was very clever) and it was simple and delicious. Would I order it if it was on the menu, probably not, but it was very good. Then we got a serving of a pasta dish with little pieces of bacon, which was incredible. I wish there was more. I understand it’s a tasting menu, but give us some more to taste! Then came the veal which was some juicy, tender and just plain delicious! Easily one of the best pieces of veal I’ve had and everything else on the plate complimented it perfectly. After the veal and before our dessert, we got a citrus and champagne dish which tasted like an orange creamsicle. I wasn’t blown away by it, but it was tasty and refreshing. Dessert was something chocolatey and it was good, but I also wasn’t blown away by it.
All in all, the food was excellent, but I do wish some of the portions were just slightly bigger. I understand it’s a tasting, but for $78 p/p, it would have been nice (total bill with 2 beers and tip was $235). If we didn’t have all of those breadsticks, there is no way we’d both leave completely full. Our last tasting meal was at Degustation, which is one of the most incredible meals we’ve ever had, so it was hard not to compare (although we completely understand they’re 2 totally different types of cuisines!). The service was great but the again, the ambiance was not for us… so we’re happy we ate there, but agreed we wouldn’t return. Perhaps we’re jaded New Yorkers with expectations that are too high? Who knows but we’re excited to try Eleven Madison Park next. Hopefully we wont be disappointed.
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011
Nice review! I don't think your expectations were too high; your experience pretty much mirrors mine: it's very solid food and worthwhile experience, but not so much that I have any desire to return. It just didn't stand out and wasn't memorable. Like you, my only complaint was related to the ambiance.
We weren't seated in the main dining room, but in a smaller attached room. It was just plain uncomfortable--the seats were uncomfortable, the table seemed very small, and worst of all, we were about a foot away from our neighbors on either side! I was almost sitting closer to the strangers on my left and right than I would sit next to someone I know when seated side-by-side on a bench! And we had the joy of hearing (and it was unavoidable given the distance) one of the groups talking all about their money and business dealings, which is always charming.
Blue Hill Stone Barns, however, is a completely different story. I've really enjoyed my experiences there and have returned several times. If you haven't been, don't rule it out based on your experience at Blue Hill.
I fully expect that Eleven Madison Park won't disappoint you! It's my absolute favorite restaurant, not just in the city, but anywhere. I know there are a lot of EMP lovers on this board and a lot of hype, but it more than lives up to it, in my opinion. I hope you're going soon and will report on EMP!
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010
I am with Ryan on two of his three points.
(1) Blue Hill at Stone Barns is magical. Go early, tour the farm, bring a blanket and sit and have a drink while the sun sets, then go to dinner. Have done that twice now and loved both trips.
(2) EMP is fantastic. You won't be disappointed.
(3) I still like Blue Hill a lot. We have been four or five times and each time has been better than the last. When making a reservation, though, always ask to sit in the front room since, as Ryan noted, the "annex" is just not as nice. As for morons talking nearby, that, sadly, is hard to avoid it seems. We had it happen to us once at EMP and it was very distracting. My solution has always been just to drink more, though my girlfriend, who is less diplomatic than I, will often start commenting loudly about our neighbors conversation, which often gets the point across.
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011