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Is Blue Hill past it's prime???

b
bcboy1 May 11, 2011 09:09 PM

Ok here is the deal, I am heading to NYC in the beginning of June from Vancouver. I'll be there for a week, 2 days of which I will be attending my crazy cousin's orthodox Jewish wedding in Brooklyn. So before that I need to get my fill of pork at The Spotted Pig. Do they still have the pig's ear salad? I had it a couple of years ago along with some oysters and devils on horse back and pork cheeks on toast. It was all amazing and I will love The Spotted Pig forever! But I digress...
I have heard great things about Blue Hill over the years and the menu always impresses me so I made a reservation. I figured June would be a pretty good time to go, maybe score some first of the season asparagus, possibly some nettles. The problem is you guys don't talk about it that much and when you do its not usually that positive. Now I'm totally rethinking the reservation that I made and because the doubt has crept in I might have to do a complete overhaul of my food plan for the week! So I need help. Should I keep the res or should I go somewhere else? There will be 6 of us including my parents who are a bit older but good diners...sorry not "but", they are a bit older AND they are good diners. Being a line cook I can't afford to go to Per Se, La Bernardin, Jean Goerge, or anywhere in that category. I want to stay away from anything Asian, because I love it, I eat it 5-6 nights a week, and Vancouver has the best and most variety of Asian food anywhere (I don't care what you say). But we could do Italian. I went to Lupa last trip and had a good meal but wasn't blown away. It looks like Scarpetta is getting the best reviews. Locanda Verde also looks great. A friend of mine just told me he had an amazing meal at Degustation.
As you can see I am lost. Should I just stick with my gut and go to Blue Hill? Any help would be great. And you should all know that you have way too much power over me!
Thanks

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Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

  1. j
    JeremyEG May 11, 2011 10:17 PM

    Hey there,
    Are you able to do Blue Hill Stone Barns? We had an incredible meal there last year and were just looking at a good time to go back because the seasonal veggies are about to become really special here soon. (FYI, we have the first asparagus already).

    Here is my review of Blue Hill Stone Barns
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/714078

    I went 2 years ago to the Blue Hill in the village and enjoyed my meal very much. The portions might be small as others have remarked but the flavors are clear and refined. Really a great night.

    JeremyEG
    HomeCookLocavore.com

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    Blue Hill
    75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

    1. n
      nmprisons May 12, 2011 04:25 AM

      I have been to blue hill eight times in the past four years. My most recent trip was last month. Each meal has been very good and one was truly spectacular. It is always my first choice at that price point and I have never been disappointed.

      1. c
        comiendosiempre May 12, 2011 05:23 AM

        A number of us had a celebratory dinner at Blue Hill, downtown, a few months back. It was, without question, the single most disappointing meal at any foodie/upscale/well known restaurant in NYC we have had in many years. The best things were the service, the bread and the butter. The menu items were over thought and over wrought, poorly spiced, there were few options and, yes kind of like that joke, there was little of it. To this day I've never been served such a small soft shell crab. Teeny, tiny, served on a huge plate, and it was unexceptional. When it hit the table a number of us looked at each other, then around the room, thinking there must be a candid camera filming the whole thing. I know some love the restaurant but for us it is still discussed as a spot that we all find incomprehensible in terms of reviews and reputation.

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        Blue Hill
        75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

        5 Replies
        1. re: comiendosiempre
          g
          gutsofsteel May 12, 2011 06:01 AM

          While I really like Blue Hill Stone Barns, I find Blue Hill NYC to be an overrated, mediocre restaurant, and after too many disappointments in a row, I no longer consider going there.

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          Blue Hill
          75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

          1. re: comiendosiempre
            r
            RGR May 12, 2011 08:42 AM

            Our one and only dinner at Blue Hill NYC was many years ago, and we left quite underwhelmed. The fact that we had temperature problems with our main course duck (not hot enough and had to be sent back) didn't help matters.

            Since you are considering Italian, I would recommend Ai Fiori. We've been there twice for dinner during the past few months, and the food has been uniformly excellent.

            Ai Fiori photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157626404002836/

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

            1. re: RGR
              n
              nmprisons May 12, 2011 09:24 AM

              I had the most disappointing lunch at Ai Fiori last Saturday. The two pastas we tried were very good, but the two fish dishes were just barely above getting sent back. My mom's was so salty she had three bites and left the rest, mine had sat in the window far too long resulting in a demolished piece of halibut and sorry looking morels. I am desperate to give it another go due to the strong recs here and the potential I saw in the pastas (will do dinner next time), but it seemed more expensive than Blue Hill (My lunch for 2 with one glass of wine, one appetizer, two pastas, two fish dishes, one dessert, one scoop of ice cream, and two diet cokes came to $211 with tip) in that I felt like I didn't get what I paid for at Ai Fiori, but have always been pleasantly surprised by Blue Hill.

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              Blue Hill
              75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

              Ai Fiori
              400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

              1. re: nmprisons
                r
                RGR May 12, 2011 10:01 AM

                When we make recommendations based on our own positive experiences, they may be exactly the opposite of someone else's.

                I'm sorry you had such a disappointing experience at Ai Fiori. Did you not consider sending the poor dishes back? Or, at least, inform your captain or one of the managers? Based on our dealings with the staff there, my guess is that they would have wanted to rectify the situation.

                I generally hold to the concept that a restaurant has only one chance to make a first impression, and when it turns out to be a bad one, I'm usually not inclined to go back. So, I commend you for being willing to give Ai Fiori another try.

                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                1. re: RGR
                  n
                  nmprisons May 12, 2011 10:35 AM

                  I had considered sending them back (something I have never done before despite scores of meals at "fancy" restaurants), and had I been there with my usual dining companion there is no doubt that at least my fish dish would have gone back. But, I was there with my mom and we were having such a nice time together that I didn't want to risk even the slightest hint of confrontation or rudeness (the service was very good and so I didn't expect it, just didn't want to risk it).

                  My general take on return visits is that I once had a disappointing meal at Blackbird in Chicago about 2 years after it opened. It was my second visit. Had it been my first, and had I decided not to go back, I would have missed out on some of the best venison preparations I have ever tried. I'm willing to give a place a second chance if I saw potential, and there is potential at Ai Fiori.

                  I rec. the places that I have enjoyed with the hope that others enjoy them too, but realize that sometimes a kitchen has an off-night, a server is inept, or one's palate just doesn't mesh the food. I take other people's rec.s with that same understanding.

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                  Ai Fiori
                  400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

          2. k
            kathryn May 12, 2011 07:13 AM

            BTW, Degustation is too small for 6 people, and it's all counter seating.

            Locanda Verde might work but it's pretty loud, so maybe not the best place to take parents.

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            Degustation
            239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

            Locanda Verde
            377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

            1. ChefJune May 12, 2011 12:18 PM

              I have always loved Blue Hill, but I have only been there when Dan Barber is in the kitchen. During "the season," he is at Stone Barns always on the weekends, (unless of course, the President is coming to dine). The folks I know who've been disappointed at the NY Blue Hill have been there on nights when Dan was not there.

              Italian? We love I Trulli, and besides the amazing pastas, they have a charming garden room that is quietly festive.

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              Blue Hill
              75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

              I Trulli
              122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

              2 Replies
              1. re: ChefJune
                g
                gutsofsteel May 12, 2011 01:22 PM

                In a good restaurant it shouldn't matter at all who is in the kitchen. It is the chef's job to make sure the food is executed correctly no matter who is cooking at any given meal. Daniel Humm is not at EMP every lunch and dinner every day - and in all my visits the food has been uniformly good. That's one of the marks of a good restaurant and a competent chef.

                And I have been at Blue Hill with and without Dan Barber in the kitchen. Have never really had a satisfying meal there.

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                Blue Hill
                75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

                1. re: ChefJune
                  r
                  RGR May 12, 2011 03:42 PM

                  gutsofsteel's sentiments are exactly the same as mine with regard to what makes a great restaurant. So, your "excuse" for people being disappointed with the food at Blue Hill NYC does not wash with me. Besides, our one visit there was years before Stone Barns opened when Barber and Michael Anthony were still partners. Also, the fact that Barber spends his weekends at Stone Barns didn't matter one iota with regard to the second meal we had there (on a Sunday evening) as it was mediocre at best. The only conclusion I can reach based on my experiences with both Blue Hills is that the quality of the food is inconsistent and too often nothing to rave about. Definitely not the sign of a great restaurant.

                  As for I Trulli, the last time we ate there in April '09, while the pasta was delicious, the main courses were a disappointment -- not anywhere near as good as they used to be under the original chef. In fact, I can still recall a fabulous rack of lamb I had there years ago. I do agree that the garden is lovely. Obviously, we haven't been back in quite a while. But if we do return, it would be for the garden and the pastas.

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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                  Blue Hill
                  75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

                  I Trulli
                  122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                2. i
                  InfoMofo May 12, 2011 02:32 PM

                  If you're talking about Blue Hill in the city, I wouldn't bother.

                  If you're talking about Stone Barns, go.

                  Completely different beasts, in my opinion.

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                  Blue Hill
                  75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

                  1. r
                    rrems May 12, 2011 02:40 PM

                    I have not been to Blue Hill, but will comment on your Italian choices. Locanda Verde has very good food, but the service is extremely rushed and the noise level can be horrendous. You will also likely have a wait even with reservations. Not to say anything bad about Scarpetta, but one of the reasons it gets so many great notices is it has been around for a few years so many more people have tried it than the more recently opened places. I really think Ciano is better, but it is too new to have gotten as much notice. Ai Fiori is wonderful too, worth considering if it is within your budget.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rrems
                      j
                      JeremyEG May 12, 2011 11:06 PM

                      Second the Ciano rec. We loved our meal there much more than we liked our meal at Scarpetta. Looking to go back soon.
                      JeremyEG
                      HomeCookLocavore.com

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                      Scarpetta
                      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                      Ciano
                      45 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

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