Is Blue Hill at Stone Barns worth the aggrevation of making a reservation?
I've been trying to get a reservation at Blue Hill at Stone Barns on a Saturday night for a while now. I call 2 months prior to the date I want and they never have an opening. I was also informed that if I was successful in getting my date I'd have to give them a credit card # as a guarantee.
Is this place worth pursuing?
We ate there about 6 or 7 years ago, and although we enjoyed out meal, we have never particularly wanted to return. The thing about BHSB is that it's almost more about the ingredients than it is about the food, if that makes sense. Each ingredient is treated with so much respect, that it's as if they want to do as little to it as possible. Someplace like Per Se, for example, is all about transforming the ingredients. I'm happy we went, but there are other great restaurants I would return to before BHSB.
I also agree with naysayers. When we went we thought it was pretty much a one-note experience. We went during ramp season and just about everything just tasted from the ramps. There was no symphony of flavors. Additionally, my DW did the wine pairing, and felt that many of the pairings just didn't work.
i've been to a variety of really good restaurants. i also enjoy eating at a lot of restaurants that aren't very expensive.
when i go to a place that expensive, i want most of my meal to taste really good. it's ok to have something that might not be great (ie. wd50 usually will have 1 plate in their tasting menus that doesn't hit the mark with me), but the good stuff should be amazing.
my wife and i weren't floored by most of the dishes in the meal, and thought it was way overpriced for what we ate. if it was half the price, it would have been a cute place that we probably still wouldn't go back to, but think it was an interesting experience.
having said that - i understand why some people really like it, but it didn't hit the mark with us.
(edit: just found part of a post i made after going)
they'll give you a huge list of ingredients that might be in tonight's meal. you let them know if you have any allergies or extreme dislikes, and they'll go from there. you'll either get a 5 'course' or 8 'course' tasting menu; both contain same amount of food. the 5 course one a month ago was more adventurous, with bone marrow, and some type of face bacon as a couple of the courses.
we left full, but...i think it's way too hyped for the price point. and i love momofuku(s), which have received hype out the wazoo...and have no problems paying that amount for something which is worth it (i'll be doing that this weekend). i just didn't think it matched up.
i keep meaning to put up a post of our recent time there, but just haven't had the desire. it's much easier to post something when you're enthusiastic.
Put me down as a non believer at least until my last meal there a month or so ago. All the affectation had gone (well not quite all, there was still a platter with skewered vegetables) but the food is truly amazing, and far more creative than a riff on decent ingredients. Now the quality is used imaginatively and the purity of flavor is enhanced by some seriously creative cooking and I had one of the best meals of the year.
The alternative to trying to book a table is sit in the bar area and snack.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns is absolutely worth the visit. My husband and I remember this dining experience as one of the most memorable. If you're into local farming, care about sourcing and preparation of food as a traditional, artisanal craft, then you will love this place.
Especially now, with the harvest season, you'll be in for a real treat as most of their food is super-seasonal. It'd be a beautiful, romantic place to walk around and have a meal.
Also, it bears mentioning that this place is heavily subsidized, as in, the property was a donation by the Rockefellers, and many of the programs which sustain the growing/preparation of the ingredients are also the beneficiaries of other funding sources. So what you get, in terms of product, probably costs way more to produce, start to finish, than you are paying per head.
I get the feeling it's reached its mature stage. At first, there was an evangelical feel to the farm to table message. The best comparison is a 3d movie; they start ed off showing what it can do, and it was all special effects and not much plot, and after a while, the 3d was used to enhance the storyline. So it is with Blue Hill and how they use the ingredients, and I like where it's gone.
there is a difference of opinion as to what constitutes fine dining. complex, non-traditional combinations and sauce components have become all the thing. ( i am in chicago now but of new orleans- 23 yr old chefs and nouveau saucing now dominate chicago--and i love it--it is exciting ) --BUT the basis of fine food--to me--is fine ingredients, perfectly prepared. blue hill represents that in the finest french tradition. many years ago one of the great chefs of marseilles did no saucing other than meat ,fish, poultry juices reduced and paired with a complimentary wine. elegant--yes. boring certainly not. once years ago at what was then the finest eatery in paris i mentioned in deprecation that as wonderful; as the chicken was, hell it should be--we cant buy a chicken at home that tastes like that. the waiter overheard, the owner came out and explained that the chicken tasted like that because he raised them himself, changing the food as the bird developed to foster -nutty flavor in the legs, light clean raspberry in the breast, etc etc. plus veggies roasted to bring out veggie flavors
it would be nice if reviewers would be more specific so one knows the individual tastes being presented. weedy rightfully points out that my palate prefers one style, his another. this should be of some value to the individual requesting info re blue hill. not dramatic, rather simple and extremely fine food flavors, very well brought out. not molecular, not dramatically sauced--but what a piece of lamb or pork or chicken.
we all have different taste, and sometimes different expectations for a night out as well.
I cook pretty well.
If I go out, I don't often want to eat something I feel I could easily have just made myself; or if it IS that, then it better blow me away with the simple power of its ingredients and execution.
And that's my bottom line with Blue Hill. I can appreciate it, intellectually, but it still leaves me cold. It just isn't blowing me away at all.
I can sear a duck breast or sauté a carrot. So is this amongst the best seared duck breasts and sautéed carrots ever?
On the other hand, I can really enjoy going to Craft, for example, where it also is on the very simple end of creations, but the level of execution somehow adds flavour to the experience that I am unable to dismiss.
Ultimately, at the high end prices especially, it's so much about just where you find you have a great time and want to come back.
for ME, that's not Blue Hill.
Four of us Dined there 2 wks ago.......very disappointed and would never go back.
1. Very small portions of food
2. Very small serving of wine ($24 a glass)
3. Overly pretentious
4. Ridiculously overpriced
5. 3 hours to serve meal
We each had the 5 course prix fixe tasting menu and a total of 3 glasses of wine.
Total including tax and tip came to $650.......$325 per couple and we left hungry.
SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!!
It's absolutely worth it. We go each year for our anniversary and make sure to get a table during a good growing season (I haven't loved my winter meals there nearly as much as those in the other seasons). Here is my write up from a couple years ago.
I didn't write up this year's meal but it was actually even better. We've always said that we don't have any allergies or restrictions but with a little push, it's easy to ask for more unusual ingredients and that's when I feel the kitchen really shines. They do offal and charcuterie better than anywhere else I can think of. I actually prefer my meals at BHSB to the meal I had at Per Se and the meals I've had at EMP. It is quite expensive but I would choose it hands-down over anything else in that price range. We also got to see the chef do a sausage making demo at Googa Mooga festival in Brooklyn and he is quite down to earth and very funny. I agree that the room can feel a bit stuffy but they loosen up as soon as you do. Have fun and if you decide to go, try for an early table so you can see the farm and the animals beforehand. Enjoy!