Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Stone_barn
Our friend gave us a gift certificate to treat ourselves to a dinner at Stone Barns which is located at the Rockefeller Estate in Pocantico Hills (Tarrytown).  No surprises, the kids wanted to come along and join in on the fun. 

We drove up there on Sunday  night.  It was a beautiful evening.  It had snowed that evening and everything was still lightly covered.  A huge roaring fire place is going when you walk in.  There is something magical and inviting about the place.  I particularly love the long wooden table down the middle of the restaurant where the prep work goes on.  The ambiance and room reminded me a bit of Gramercy Tavern but the kids kept saying it reminded them of a place we went to in South Africa. 

Once we sat down the kids started discussing how they should own an estate together when they grow up. They would each have a home on the estate where they could have a farm, grow their own produce and run a restaurant.  Josh said he could then be a writer on the side.  What happened to wanting to be a Venture Capitalist, Celebrity Chef and Rock Star? 

Service was a bit slow at the onset.  The sommelier came over before we even had the menus.  Tough to pick wines without any idea of what you are going to eat.  Eventually we got the menus.  You can pick either 2 or 3 selections with a dessert for a fixed price.  We opted for 3. 

The meal begins with a couple of treats from the chef.  The first was a small glass cup of parsnip soup.  Rich and flavorful.  The parsnip flavor was intense.  Next out was a tiny plate of 5 burger bites.  These were fantastic.  Small burger shaped treats that were stuffed with beets and goat cheese and the bun was light and crispy.  I could have popped more than one in my mouth.  Last treat before dinner was a pinky sized piece of salsify that had been roasted and wrapped in panchetta, deep fried and dipped in sesame seeds.  Quite interesting.  I am not sure I even tasted the panchetta.  Then out came the bread which was moist, warm with a crisp crust.  Fred and I went with the wine tastings through out the meal which was the way to go.  All delicious and fitting.

You can choose how you want your selections to come out.  They must be ahead of the curve, because in essence, as the New York Times Dining Section reported today, entrees are becoming a thing of the past.  Three of us began with the cauliflower soup.  The dish comes with seared bay scallops on the bottom over a mixture of blanched cauliflower, then they pour the rich flavorful soup over it with hints of a Granny smith apple flavor.  Very good and simple.  Josh went with the Crab salad.  In a bowl there is a green gazpacho on the bottom, on top of that is a large mound of Blue crab and a dollop of yogurt sorbet on top.  I could have done with out the yogurt sorbet, it took away from the taste of crab mixed with the gazpacho giving an almost citrus flavor to it which I didn’t love.  Fred went with the mixture of Fall vegetables which was basically root vegetables some roasted, others not, with walnuts and pears.  Very seasonal.

Next course the girls went with the Crab salads.  Josh went with the mushroom pasta which was light.  Thick ribbons of pasta served with slices of sauteed mushrooms in a mushroom broth.  Almost too light for the thick noodles but tasty.  Fred opted for the same thing.  I went with the Greens that were mixed with herbs, pistachios, warm mushrooms and in the middle of the salad was an egg, soft boiled, no shell that had been lightly fried covered with bread crumbs.  Really interesting and quite delicious.  Creative salad.

For last course (before dessert) the girls went with the Hake.  Crispy skin side up over a mixture of beans and autumn roasted vegetables on the side.  The beans were really delicious.  A nice course.  Fred and Josh went with the pork chop which appeared to be smoked before cooking.  Not that interesting.  Served with parsnips and quinoa.  I went with the bass.  Simple prepared, no skin over a puree of parsnips and turnips, brussel sprouts on the side and a pumpkin seed sauce.  Good but not a total wow.

Desserts were next.  Fred went with the cheese plate.  He loved it but I didn’t taste.  I went with the chocolate bread pudding which was a intense square of chocolate that oozed in the middle when you broke it open and a scoop of coffee gelato on top.  Quite good and very rich.  Josh and Em went with the Chocolate Torte which was huge.  Set on a thin mixture of caramel and salted peanuts and a dollop of chocolate ice cream on top.  Serious amount of dessert.  Jessica went with the cranberries.  A small vanilla like souffle with ice cream on the side and dried cranberries.  Right up her alley.

At this point it was getting late.  We’d be there 2 hours already and we’d had enough.  The kids wanted to stay for the goodies vs. the 5 pears they brought to our table but enough was enough.  It was time to get going.  Back to the city we went. 

Conceptually a wonderful restaurant.  Unique.  Great place to go for something special.  Not sure it is worth the trek out of the city but I am really glad we went.  We had a nice time.  Some hits, some misses but all and all, a nice experience.  You can tell the kids had fun from the picture above.  It was taken on the way out..