Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a fantastic dining experience

Post image for Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a fantastic dining experience

October 20, 2011 · 12 comments

in Loving food

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to try Blue Hill. But I’d never been — even though it’s located barely 20 minutes from my house. This super-exclusive restaurant has been beyond my reach for many reasons. For starters, it’s a pain to make reservations a month in advance. For another, the meals are pricey. I also wanted to go with someone special.

But I went the other night and it was delish. The tab of $174.25 per person (before gratuities) was steep yet totally worth it.

Blue Hill is the name of both the restaurant and farm that sit in the middle of a gorgeous old Rockefeller estate. This Westchester County property also includes Stone Barns, a non-profit educational center that is committed to spreading the word on the benefits of local farming. There is also a second Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village; in May 2009, it received tons of press when Pres. Obama took the First Lady there for a romantic night-on-the-town.

Maybe some day I’ll try that one. It can’t possibly top the 80-acres worth of charm offered by Blue Hill. Everywhere I looked, there was both the magic of nature and the beauty that humans can create. I loved the chicken coops, autumn leaves, pretty bar, elegant food presentation — even the carefully-tailored waitstaff uniforms were dazzling. Being there felt like participating in a sacred farm-to-fine-dining ritual. Eating as meditation. How do I get more of this activity in my life?!

And the food….the menu changes not just from week to week but from table to table in a single night. It all depends on what’s been harvested from the farm that day. Diners are offered the choice of either a five-, eight- or 12-course menu. I opted for the $108 fiver. In the end, it became very hard to count the courses because the Blue Hill kitchen folks added on a whole bunch of tasty extras.

The dining room was cozy-dark with flowers, candles — the full white tablecloth treatment. Couples were seated side-by-side rather than across from each other.

Flash photography wasn’t allowed so my pictures are sorta funky. Some of them didn’t come out at all — which is why I’m sharing this link to a New York Times story about the delectable tomato sliders. They were impossible to shoot with my digital camera. But the link will show you what they look like (recipe included).

If you’re not in the market for such an expensive dinner, Blue Hill is still a worthwhile destination. On the eating front, there’s an $88 restaurant lunch menu as well as the snack-y Blue Hill Cafe for the scones-and-salad crowd. And Stone Barns has activities galore — just check out the events calendar. Getting there isn’t terrible either; here are the directions.

And if you’d like to see the photos below close-up, my Blue Hill photos are on Flickr.com.

 

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betty October 20, 2011 at 5:17 am

btw, the blue hill folks really know how to build an inviting website. it’s loaded with gorgeous farm and food photos. plus, it offers a ton of info (history, press clips, blog, etc.).

and if you’re job hunting, the site lists blue hill employment openings as “opportunities.” here you go: http://bluehillfarm.com/food/opportunities

2 Stephanie October 20, 2011 at 7:42 am

OMG I’m obsessed with Stone Barnes. I’ve never eaten there for the obvious reason that you listed above – $280 for a single meal?! That exceeds my monthly grocery bill, it’s also more than half of my rent! But it’s a beautiful concept and Dan Barber is doing so much for the upscale sustainable food world. Stone Barnes also hosts the Young Farmers Conference annually, which my boyfriend and I will hopefully be attending this year (as long as I can swing getting two whole days off from my job – working full-time is an entirely new beast). Here’s a link to the conference if you’re interested! http://www.stonebarnscenter.org/young-farmers-conference/

SO glad you got to eat there! It sounds delicious. Now I have to go back to my soggy granola and burnt coffee… :-)

3 Christina Lam October 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

Glad you had such a heavenly foodie experience! This restaurant now goes on my list of “must-try” Given the price tag it may need to wait (a long while), but who knows, right?! For now I enjoyed this vicarious treat.

4 Betty October 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

christina, dining there was almost a religious experience. after all, the blue hill folks made us feel like the land is sacred. and even if we’re eating the animals, they should be raised humanely, with respect for their place in nature’s cycle.

and stephanie, the young farmers’ conference looks like a good deal — $180 for two days. for sure, they’ll feed you something. in fact, it should be a nice spread; wouldn’t it make sense for them to impress and inspire the conventioneers? :)

5 Mary Anne October 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm

What a great experience and I love your description! I have been wanting to go to Blue Hill for dinner since forever. I actually pitched Dan Barber my dinnerware as sustainably handmade in New York State, but I think he may have found other fabulous dishes to serve on. Maybe I’ll get hubby to go on our next uber special celebration. Sounds worth saving up for!

6 Betty October 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm

mary anne, i think you would love the place. and i also think your beautiful stuff would look so nice at blue hill. definitely go eyeball the place and have dinner. i’ll bet it’ll inspire you to come up with new designs to pitch.

7 Judy October 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Blue Hill at Stone Barns sounds sublime. We ate at Blue Hill in the West Village a few years ago with the girls and their hubbies, and was not overly impressed, though the bill was just as steep. Remember? Can’t wait to visit the restaurant right on the farm. Seems like it would be a totally different experience.

8 Betty October 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm

now i remember! but at the time, i barely knew what blue hill was. now you have me imagining the meal we had — but minus the farm. and to be honest, the whole theater of being at the farm was essential to our dining pleasure.

but i think i’d like to go to the west village blue hill, just to eyeball the space and have a drink. thanks for the insight, judy! xo

9 Takiema November 3, 2011 at 8:37 am

We have a family membership to Stone Barns and WE LOVE IT. It’s an amazing place to spend the day & we’ve enjoyed the family programs and the food in the cafe. I will have to send this post to my husband so knows where to take me when we get our next tax return. It sounds incredible! Thanks for writing all about it.

10 Betty November 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

how wonderful for your family! we’ve gotta try the cafe. and DEFINITELY get your honey to take you to the restaurant for a special dinner. just remember — you have to book a month in advance. this means going thru the pain-in-the-neck effort of calling blue hill early in the morning. you have to dial, dial, dial until you get thru. but once you’re there, you’ll enjoy it. :)

11 Chris Doka November 8, 2011 at 8:17 am

Wow, Betty! This place really does seem amazing. As someone who absolutely loves food, this is now going on to my list of places I want to try. Loving your blog. I have to start writing on mine again– I’ve been MIA for a while, getting caught up in the grind of working all the time :(

12 Betty November 8, 2011 at 8:59 am

chris, blue hill is worth a day trip. and thanks for reading my blog. good luck with yours! i really believe it’s okay to take a break. when my mom was on her deathbed, i was m.i.a. for months and months. i would briefly return and then disappear. it is what it is. xo

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