Address: 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, New York
Anyone who loves food should really check out Blue Hill at Stone Barns at least once. When you make a 45 minutes drive to Pocantico Hills to dine at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, you are actually making a pilgrimage to a restaurant that dedicates its cooking to using the freshest ingredients, and tasting amazing food that is cooked and created by its talented executive chef/owner Dan Barber. Before/after your meal, you will also get to visit the Center for Food and Agriculture at Stone Barns, which is a locally sustainable farm where Blue Hill restaurant sources most of its ingredients and farm products from. The Center for Food and Agriculture is a non-profit farm/educational center created by David Rockefeller to support and promote local farming in memory of his late wife, Peggy Rockefeller. Blue Hill restaurant also sources their ingredients from other farmers around the area, as well as from their own Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
There are so many good things to say about this restaurant. From its breathtaking Stone Barns location to its service to its food, it was an amazing dining experience for me. I made reservation for a Sunday lunch so that we can check out the farms and the surrounding areas after that. There was no menu, so the kitchen prepares and serves dishes inspired by the day's harvest, which was a totally omakase style. But of course, the restaurant is willing to accommodate if any diner has dietary restrictions. It was a four course lunch, and we had a salad, gnocchi, venison/fish and dessert. For the appetizer, it was a salad of Mache, Forono beets and pine nuts with yogurt dressing. To me, the salad was quite unusual, but the combination of amazingly fresh vegetables with yogurt dressing worked perfectly and it was very appetizing and refreshing. The second course was the homemade yam gnocchi with arugula, mushrooms and black truffles. The dish was purple, intense, delicious and comforting, and the sauteed mushroom was just so flavorful and juicy. I am not crazy about gnocchi, but this dish made me craved for more. The third course was a meat/fish dish. The kitchen made us all a perfect piece of Hudson Valley venison (the best game meat dish ever), garnished with the most delicious and fresh spiced brussels sprout and Mokum carrots. They also made a fish version of the dish for one of our friends after they found out that the venison was too raw for her taste (without additional charge). The last course was the dessert. The kitchen brought us two different sets of desserts - chocolate truffle ice cream with chocolate cake for the guys, and apple crumble with rum ice cream for the girls. I thought the girls got the better dessert, the apple crumble and rum ice cream dessert was just to die for. During the meal, we saw different tables getting different courses, and hence have different experience. No doubt all of them are equally well prepared and thought out. it brings the whole concept of chef inspired dishes from fresh produce directly from the farm at its purest.
After our two hour lunch, we went for a walk at the farm area in the Center for Food & Agriculture. Since it was still winter, there were few roaming animals in the field. But we saw chicken, Stone Barn's Berkshire pigs and sheep (and an adorable sheep dog) in the barns. I tried not to stay too long at the barns, in case I fall in love with the pigs and decide to convert myself into a vegetarian! We had lots of fun at Blue Hill at Stone Barn and we are already thinking about making the next trip there for dinner. Dinner would be better for me, since four courses was just not enough!
Gan and Alf