I recently got back from Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Blue Hill has a location in Westchester (a farm and restaurant) as well as a location in the Village in New York City. The theme at these restaurants is to use local ingredients, typically fresh from the farm, in the cuisine. The theory is that this is more sustainable, healthy, environmentally friendly, etc. The thing that piqued my interest was the likelihood that a place like Blue Hill would have good vegetarian options. (I went to the Blue Hill New York location for my anniversary a couple of years ago and generally liked it, though I don’t remember enough detail about the food to say anything more than that.)
I first went on a tour of the farm, which was pretty neat. We saw some of the things they were growing in the greenhouses, some dried garlic (!!), and fresh tomatoes and berries. I had a strawberry and a little tomato, even though I don’t much like berries. (More on that later.) We also saw turkeys being herded back into their barn for the night, and pigs rolling around in their own filth.
Eventually, we moved inside for dinner. The first course was an egg, breaded, served with greens and yogurt (all from the farm). The egg was good, though not as flavorful as I would have guessed considering how fresh it was. It was a little softer than I like, but otherwise okay. I was surprised by the greens and yogurt; I didn’t think they went with the egg. But it was an interesting presentation and a nice way to kick off dinner.
The second course was ostrich egg pasta with black trumpet mushrooms. (Initially, I had this in my notes as “grumpy” mushrooms and then as “strumpet” mushrooms. Both very different from the actual, trumpet mushrooms.) The pasta was good, though very buttery–or perhaps it was good because it was buttery. I couldn’t really taste (or see) any mushrooms, and the pasta had a subtle lemon flavor. I rather liked it, but would have liked a little stronger mushroom presence, particularly to add some grounding for the light lemon flavor.
The main course consisted of several different preparations of zucchini. I generally like zucchini and so I really liked the main course. I also liked that they went with several different preparations of the featured ingredient, instead of just one thing. What you see on the right is a risotto; the piece in the center is polenta; there are a few slices of yellow and green zucchini, and the one in the upper right was a crunchy zucchini cake (not sure if it was baked or fried). All in all, very nice.
Dessert was berries and cream with shortbread. I wasn’t too thrilled. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure this was great as far as berries and cream go. I’m just not a huge fan of berries, as I mentioned above, so I wasn’t too enthused about the dessert. That said, I did eat the whole thing and like it, so I definitely liked it better than most berries I eat.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns gets four stars. Getting vegetarian options for each course posed absolutely no problem, and the courses themselves were generally fairly well thought out. I would have liked the courses to be just a bit more flavorful, though — maybe adding some fresh herbs would have helped. I enjoyed the experience, the tour of the farm was educational, and the food was very good, but not quite good enough to get my top rating.