October 20, 2011

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