Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The intelligence and passion that Chef Dan Barber exuded during his twenty-minute presentation on “natural” foie gras at the Taste3 conference inspired The Astronomer and me to seek out a meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns during a week-long trip to New York. Situated on a working four-season farm, Chef Barber’s five-year-old restaurant is dedicated to creating a consciousness about the effects of everyday food choices. After exploring the farm’s magnificent grounds and learning about its mission, The Astronomer and I were ready to sit down and experience how a principled approach to food translated onto the plate.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Sourcing from the surrounding fields and pastures, as well as other local farms, Blue Hill highlights the abundant resources of the Hudson Valley. Upon being seated, diners are presented with a list of over a hundred ingredients containing seasonal offerings from the field and market. During our visit in early September, items such as Samantha cabbage, Socrates cucumber, lobster mushroom, and Aztec beans were on the “menu.” The only decision diners make is choosing between the five-course tasting ($105) and the Farmer’s Feast ($135). To experience the full range of the kitchen’s abilities and the season’s bounty, The Astronomer and I chose the Farmer’s Feast.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Shortly after deciding to feast rather than taste, we were bombarded by a parade of amuses. In the span of ten or so minutes, seven different bites appeared at our table, leaving us feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and giddy. First up were two V8 shooters. Served slightly chilled, the juice provided a refreshing start and readied our bellies for more.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Next to arrive was a most delightful “fence” of dewy vegetables. The artful presentation reminded me of Martin Kastner’s thoroughly modern tableware designs for Alinea in Chicago. We relished plucking each tomato (Jaune Flamme, Sungold, Magic Mountain), lettuce, carrot, and fennel with our bare fingers and popping them into our mouths. The Astronomer couldn’t get enough of the licorice-laced fennel, while I was enamored by the impossibly sweet yellow Husk tomatoes.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

My favorite of the amuses were the bite-sized tomato burgers. The semi-sweet buns had an airy texture reminiscent of macarons, while the heart of the burger tasted intensely vibrant, like tricked-out sun-dried tomatoes. I happily polished off both burgers because The Astronomer loathes tomatoes. Our waiter informed us that during the winter months, beets are used in place of tomatoes in this dish.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Perched atop wooden skewers were hunks of yellow summer squash encrusted with pancetta and sesame seeds. In contrast to our earlier bites, this one was warm and mostly savory.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Frittatas made from the eggs of Rhode Island red hens arrived on a charcoal slate. In between the soft eggy curds were layers of potatoes and salty pancetta.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The squares of perfectly white fat nestled in the slices Berkshire pork were downright silky.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The final amuse was an array of melons sprinkled with ground black pepper. The colorful collection of spheres included honeydew, cantaloupe, and yellow and red watermelon. The interplay between sweet, spicy, and juicy was a treat for the senses.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Following the slew of unique amuses, we were served slices of caramelized onion potato bread. On the side were little bowls filled with tomato salt, ricotta, and butter. Both the cheese and butter were made using milk from Blue Hill Farm. I weighed down my already delicious bread with a combination of runny ricotta and a light sprinkling of tomato salt.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The first official course of the evening was a slab of fresh blue fish dressed in caviar and a pigs ear vinaigrette. The naturally chewy pig ear imparted a subtly gelatinous texture to the vinaigrette.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Due to The Astronomer’s aversion to tomatoes, the kitchen fixed two different summer salads for the second course. My salad contained tomatoes and watermelon topped with balsamic vinegar and a yogurt foam. The simple accouterments highlighted the sweet and juicy perfection of the tomatoes and watermelons. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a vegetable course more.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The Astronomer’s warm summer salad was a verdant collection of green beans, zucchini, and broccoli florets accented with an eggplant dressing and foam. To say that The Astronomer loved this dish would be an understatement, he practically inhaled it.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The strongest dish of the night was the butter-poached Maine lobster served with members of the “night shade” family including tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. With each forkful, I closed my eyes and blocked out the entire dining room in order to taste the sweet and tender lobster without distractions. As with all foods that are heartbreakingly good, this tail disappeared much too soon.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

It is a difficult task following up a perfectly executed lobster, but this special egg preparation was up to the challenge. Beneath the edible herb- and petal-embedded rice paper was a warm farm fresh egg, softly cooked, and paired with tomatoes and eggplants. The rich egg yolk coated the vegetables and flavored the dish simply and beautifully.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The egg dish was appropriately followed by a chicken preparation. I must admit that my heart sank a little when our waitress announced this course. On my list of favorite animals to eat, chicken lies somewhere near the bottom along with field mouse. I needn’t have worried because the chicken was nothing short of fabulous. Moist and tender pieces of light and dark meat shared the slate with corn and okra. The most memorable components of the dish were the two slices of rare liver. Accustomed to liver that is bitter in taste and unpleasantly grainy in texture, I was taken aback by the succulence of this version. Raw offals are the new black.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

After witnessing herds of sheep gorging upon the grassy hills outside the restaurant, The Astronomer and I sinisterly and secretly hoped that we’d be served lamb for dinner. Sure enough, the final savory course of the evening was Dorset lamb. We were spoiled with three different parts—loin, rack, and my favorite, belly. A coarse puree of eggplant, cheese, carrots, and pine nuts rounded out the dish.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

The cheese course included two different raw milk wedges from Vermont paired with honeycomb, apricot chutney, and wheat toasts ($14 supplement).

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

Following the cheeses was an apricot and elderberry flower sorbet. The various tart gelée underneath the sorbet added a little something extra to the refreshing palate cleanser.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

For dessert: a perfectly summery fromage blanc cake with fresh blackberries and yellow raspberries. The blackberry sorbet swathed in the trio of sauces (honey, vanilla, and guava) really made this dessert for me.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS

And lastly, the mignardise—red currant and yogurt macarons, blueberry jellies, strawberries, and yellow raspberries.

As a disciple of both Michal Pollan and Marion Nestle, I’ve long internalized the rhetoric that food produced using natural and environmentally sound methods tastes better and is better for us. However, as a city dweller who isn’t on a first name basis with her local farmers, I’ve based my trust in this fact on principle rather than actual experiences. From the glorious amuses to the berry-licious finishes, the Farmer’s Feast at Blue Hill drove the message home. Grow well. Buy well. Eat well. Live well.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591
Phone: 914-366-9600

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21 Responses to “Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills”


  • Lovely photos. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is one of my top 3 favorite restaurants in the world!

  • What a meal! I feel well just reading this. :)

  • What a feast! The fence of vegetables was oh-so-pretty! Maybe one day, I’ll get to go. Was it difficult getting a reservation?

  • “blue fish dressed in caviar and a pigs ear vinaigrette”, “fence of dewy vegetables”, “edible herb- and petal-embedded rice paper”….

    to hell with El Bulli! (kidding… but WOW!!!)

  • field mouse? LOL! we can see your heart sank with that..but sounds like a great meal! When we lived there, the biggest meal we could afford was L’ecole, the French culinary institute school–5 courses for $40–it was still some great food though.

  • Great post. I was planning on going to the farm during a XMAS trip. No disrespect to your post, but the video on sustainable foie gras was the best part. I hope this is the future of foie gras production. Thanks for getting the word out.

  • Wow. I was just starting to get really jealous of your dinner, and then I started reading your descriptions and ogling your pictures–and suddenly I felt as if I had that extraordinary meal with you! Thank you for taking us along on that incredible meal.

    I really love the vegetable fence idea. I think I’d like to make one for my home dinner parties. Hmmmm…Must work on that.

    Best,
    Brooke

  • Bravo post, I can test it with your descriptions…and what a feast for the eyes…

  • as a vegetarian, I’m most impressed with the fence of veggies. I love the cute baby carrots.

  • Avast, ye mateys! The mini tomato “burgers” look like they’re walking the plank. Nice post.

  • Wait… the Astronomer doesn’t like avocados OR tomatoes?!?! I’m really stunned. Like really really stunned.

    I actually find the tomato burgers the most appealing — I love that you describe the buns as macaron-esque. I could be so down for that.

  • Gastronomer and Astronomer, so sorry I missed our final nyc date, it was a crazy day for me. I will be out West in December though, and I already want Mexican.

    I love this post-beautiful meal and beautifully rendered description/photos. One day I will outsource the produce of my farm to you and you can enjoy fresh local food every day. You are willing to live with me in Montana, right?

  • This looks great from start to finish. Those baby burgs, the edible rice paper wrapper (appeals to the japanese rice candy lover in me), the salads, the lobster, etc. A classic post. I’ll definitely read this WHEN not IF I go here.

  • So glad you guys got to go there. M and I thanked V and S profusely for recommending it. We had the celebrate the ph.d. and anniversary dinner there — you’ve reminded me of the glory that was that meal. You’ve done a beautiful meal justice!

  • me too for the fence, that gets an a for visual presentation alone. So many courses, such great attention to detail, I especially love that you can just tour the farm… or did you have a special invite for that?

  • What a gorgeous meal! I’ve heard such great things about Blue Hill and your post confirms it. Like you, chicken isn’t the most exciting of meats to me but hats off to them if they can make it amazing!

  • What a beautiful presentation you have tempted me with!! Thanks.

  • I’m excited for my meal there! :)

  • I went to BH at SB back in late October last year (5:30 reservation), and I had lots of issues getting my DSLR to focus because the lighting was very dim. How did you get your photos to turn out so brightly? Was it because the clocks hadn’t been set back for an hour, and it was still bright outside when you and the Astronomer were dining together? Just wanted to hear your advice on snapping photos in dimly lit restaurants–hope you can help! Thanks :)

  • Stefie - It was nice and bright when we started our meal, but it got much darker at the end. I shoot with a 35mm f1.8 lens from Nikon that performs amazingly under low light situations. If you own a Nikon body, then I highly recommend purchasing that lens.

    I am in the midst of writing a How to Take Kick Ass Photos in Restaurant post that I hope to finish in the next couple of months. Please look out for that!

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