This is my second visit to the incredible Blue Hill Stone Barns, my first visit can be seen here: http://hungrychineseman.com/2010/11/22/blue-hill-stone-barns-true-farm-to-table-experience-100-pts/
Blue Hill Stone Barns was most recently rated #91 of The World’s Best restaurants for 2011.
To be honest, I was excited but also a little anxious to go back to BHSB. My first visit was so extraordinarily perfect, that I was afraid the second visit might bring imperfections to light and as a result pollute my very first and very sacred memory and experience of BHSB. What if it really isn’t that good? What if one of the dishes disappoint? What if……
Regardless of my loony paranoia, my room-mate and very dear friend Aron and his lovely girlfriend Christine, along with myself and LC made our way up to Westchester on a clear, chilly Thursday night to sample the ultimate farm-to-table experience at the once Rockefeller-owned Stone Barns farm. This has been a long-awaited occasion for LC, as she did not get to join my brother and I last fall. For Aron and Christine, this has also been long-overdue, they have been wanting to go ever since I raved about this magical place last year…
And magical it is. I was pleased and comforted to know that, even the second time around, this place has not lost any of its charm. I was just as spell-bound as I walked from the small parking lot, through the huge stone arches, entering the courtyard and passing by the beautiful outdoor patio area, finally making my way into the ‘barn’… my senses tingling with excitement and anticipation…. just like my first time =)
We arrived 45 minutes early so we could relax in the beautiful lounge and enjoy some pre-dinner drinks. We all had 2 drinks each before dinner and all of the cocktails were nothing less than extraordinary. Every drink was unique in its use of ingredients and every drink had its own distinct character. From smoky to tart, from creamy to refreshing, they were all fantastic. The crowd favorite, however, was the Elixir, which was made from several different ingredients fresh from the garden, including celery juice. It was light, refreshing and unbelievably aromatic.
There was some debate about whether we should get the 5 or 8 course tasting menu, but it took all of 2 minutes for us all to agree we should and NEED to get the 8-course along with the wine pairing. As always, there is no set menu, and the meal changes seasonally, depending on what is available at the farm and their purveyors. They let the climate dictate what we get to eat, which enables them to serve only the freshest of ingredients at an given time. The preparation is at the whim of the chef and if there are any strong dislikes, allergies or dietary restriction, they will try to work around it. They were not kidding. Aron mentioned he did not like Goat Cheese, and so when they served us the mini beet burgers (which had goat cheese in them), the chef prepared a little beet burger and brought it out on a separate plate (so as not to contaminate his with goat cheese) . Details, details, details…
As EVERY SINGLE dish was inconceivably, remarkably, awe-inspiring and painfully delectable, I could go through each and every dish and describe its ingredients and preparation like I usually do… but different from say, Per Se, it’s not so much the technical excellence that grabs my attention, but rather, it’s the uncanny freshness of ingredients that blows me away each and every time, with each and every dish… and unfortunately, as much as I can use words like ‘bright’, ‘untouched’, ‘pure’, ‘crisp’, ‘sharp’ or ‘bracing’, it will still remain under-described. So I will just point out some of the highlights of the meal.
As always, the 8-course tasting evolves into a 17 dish party. Starting with their infamous version of a ‘salad’, which basically consist of farm vegetables that are lightly salted and artfully placed on a slab of stone with protruding picks. Shortly following this were fresh vegetable chips, which were in one word: Astonishing. The Kale Chips were out of this world.
The other highlight of the night were the farm-fresh eggs. There are 3 different types of eggs, each has its own unique flavor, texture and yoke-to-white ratio. We were served the medium-sized ones. They were poached then breaded and lightly fried. This was… wow.
The wine-pairing was equally excellent. If you ever have a chance to go, please, please, please get the wine pairing. You will NOT regret it. It is worth every single penny. It just compliments the flavors SO well and really helps each and every dish shine that much brighter. A bite followed by a sip… the selected wines were extremely well thought-out and it helps finish the dish off with incredible color.
The desserts were all equally impressive. The Peanut-Butter sorbet was inventive and delicate, and the cheese “souffle” was like a deconstruction cheese cake on crack.
Yet again, BHSB has proved itself as the ultimate dining experience.