Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Hmm… what can I say about this place… The food is off the charts good, fresh (obviously), well plated, well executed, clever, fun and inventive. The only negatives I can possibly conceive of are (1); it’s heavy on the vegetables, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but for (2); it is very expensive. When you pay $200 per person before drinks, tax and tip, you sort of expect some serious substance in addition to the superb veggies. The meats consisted of: pig heart pastrami (1 bite), lamb (one small, thin rib chop), a bite of ham (in the tortilla), a slice of speck (ham and cheese sandwich), and a few slices of pork. That’s pretty much it. One of the asparagus dishes (there were several, yet oddly my pee didn’t smell afterward) had shredded chicken wing as garnish, but that doesn’t count. And neither do the few items that contained fish product. The last negative criticism is (3) extreme pretense. You’ll see what I am talking about below. I get that these people are passionate about the farm to table concept, about sustainability, etc. And they are remarkable culinary artists. But fucking come on… Some of this stuff is like candid camera fodder. To sum up: this was a great once-in-a-lifetime experience. I absolutely 100% know that I will never go back, but I’m definitely glad I fought tooth and nail to get a rez here to celebrate our anniversary, even if just to experience this bizarre place.

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Service? Some of the best I’ve ever experienced. Our waiter Christian was amazing and very informative. Waiters and table hawks swooped in and cleaned up after each of our roughly 24 courses. Use a spoon once, put it down for a minute, look at the ceiling, look back down and POOF: it’s gone, with a replacement on the way. Actually when we first sat down, they saw my wife scratch her wine glass to get a spot off and they immediately replaced the glass with a fresh one. Crazy! Too much? Perhaps. At some points we sort of felt awkward.

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The ambiance of this place is really amazing. The farm is a beautiful and picturesque location. Nice grounds, with old but modern touches; rustic yet elegant. I could easily see it being some kind of rustic wedding venue. The dining area and centerpiece table is beautiful, and the kitchen is immaculately clean. The food is plated and presented in some of the most artful and beautiful ways I have ever seen.

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To start we ordered some drinks. Mine was essentially a gin martini with pickled ramps instead of onion or olive. Ramps are so farm to table and local – way more hipster than onions or olives. My wife’s was a chamomile, gin, honey, and slightly sparkling lemon drink. Delicious. But lemon?!?? That shit doesn’t grow here in NY, as far as I know. So much for the whole LOCAL thing! I want my olive now…

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Then the food started coming out. Hold onto your asses because this was a 4 hour meal…

1) Veggies on sticks. Some pickled, some raw, some lightly seasoned or spiced. Nice and refreshing. But, really? I started to wonder whether I’d fallen victim to some social experiment where you put diners into a fancy environment and serve them cat food and they absolutely love it.

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2) Asparagus soup. This was really great. Hearty, savory. I could easily drain a bowl of this shit. Pay attention to how much fucking asparagus is served here. It is astounding.

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3) Pig heart pastrami. This was good! Tasted just like pastrami, wasn’t too chewy. Just right. But give me more. Look at how much you’re charging me and ask if this is enough!

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4) First of the Rhubarb. This was essentially just a pickled slice of rhubarb. Simple. “First of the rhubarb” registers at about 11 on a Pretentiousness Scale that goes from 1 to 10. I think it means the first time they were able to pick the rhubarb this season. You know… because rhubarb is WILDLY different in flavor that second time you pick it. Whatever.

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5) Pea shoots, baby leeks, weeds, and tarragon pesto. At this point we were looking around for the hidden cameras that were placed to record our reaction to some weird practical joke. Even this was beyond “social experiment” weirdness. I’m a man with testicles. I have a dick, and it still gets hard. Now, this stuff was good (the sauce, anyway), but almost too odd for us. We were literally wiping the leaves of weeds across the sauce. Fun, I guess? But it took us a bit by surprise. We both laughed at this dish.

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6) Egg yolk & potato tartlet, spring onion vichysoisse with toasted quinoa, and a fiddle head fern cracker. These were all lovely. Perfect little bites of flavor. I wish we had a whole tray of them.

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7) Asparagus burgers. DING! Your asparagus score is now two. These were cute. Tasty too, and Christian came by with an asparagus stalk that had gone wild and grown too large. They are harvested at just the right time, before they start sprouting branches. BHASB <3 Asparagus 4-EVA!

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8) Asparagus & pancetta. DING! Your asparagus score is now three! A nice asparagus spear on a stick, coated with sesame seeds. Good bacony flavor involved without any actual bacon on the skewer.

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9) Ham and cheese sandwiches. These were made with speck and crisped cheese type crackers. Beautiful presentation, and one of the better bites of the meal. Again: give a man with hair on his chest a bit more that a single bite. I understand it is a multi-course feast, but feature the substantive dishes and downplay the “sides.” YEs – a veggie can be a side. But there were like 400 of them here to the handful of meat items. I get it. Veggies are awesome.

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10) Pork liver pate & chocolate. This was a great bite as well. The chocolate surprisingly went well the liver.

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11) Celtuce in a small soup with pine nuts. Christian gave us a crash course on what celtuce is. Basically similar to romaine but with a heart or root that you can cook up like the stem of broccoli. Delicious in every preparation they served.

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12) Greenhouse greens and smoked creamy gouda cheese. A nice salad. Whoa, whoa, WHOA… GREENHOUSE greens?!?? Do you mean to tell me that these items would not otherwise grow in the local climate? Like the lemon above… but not the olive? Pfft…

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13) Celtuse heart and spears, caviar and herring cream. This was one of the best courses. The caviar provided a natural salt element to this. Excellent use of vegetables… again.

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14) Asparagus with almond saffron sauce, stinging nettle sauce, olive tapenade, rhubarb yogurt, grilled asparagus sauce and crispy chicken wings. DING! Your asparagus score is now four! It was served with asparagus tea, and the sauces were plated tableside. The best sauce here was the asparagus sauce. Asparagus. Asparagus, asparagus, asparagus.

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15) Whole wheat brioche, escarole and spinach marmalade with fresh ricotta cheese that was strained tableside. This was a nice piece of toast. They had some cracked black pepper on the plate too, and that really made all the flavors pop.

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16) Ham, robin fish, mint & peas, creme fraiche and fresh cut herbs on a buckwheat tortilla. We were excited for this one because we were taken back to the chefs table in the kitchen to have it. Awesome!

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Umm.. can I please have some of this sausage in my meal? If not.. maybe some more asparagus?

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17) Stone barns egg, and everything a chicken eats. This was a really fucking great egg dish. I tasted currants, herbs and seeds, and it was presented while cooking in a cast iron pan. Perfect.

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18) Potato onion bread, grass fed butter, lard from their pigs, and carrot salt. Here we’re being prepped for meat courses, so I was getting psyched. FINALLY…

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19) Stone barns Berkshire pork with “this mornings peas,” pistachios and chrysanthemum. I had no idea one could eat chrysanthemum. The leaves were very fresh and airy; a perfumed and clean flavor. It went very well with the smokey pig flavor. And this morning’s peas? I’ll never have yesterday’s peas ever again. I wonder though… are tomorrow’s peas any good? Good fucking lord with the pretense.

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20) Grass fed lamb, shitake, and bok choy. This was a nice plate. I just wish the lamb was thicker. Perfectly cooked. It was like having a bite of prime rib on a stick.

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21) Cheeses … sheep’s milk and cheddar, served with rye pretzels, chutney and cumin spiced pumpkin seeds. The cheese was explained, cut, plated and served tableside, by the amazing Christian, asparagus stalk warrior.

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22) Next was a special anniversary cake plate. Pea and carrot cake. Very clever and tasty too! Get it? Have your peas and carrots… but for dessert.

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23) Milk ice cream, strawberry sorbet, and clotted cream with dried strawberries, fresh green and red strawberries and hazelnuts. The plating was pretty cool here. These little hexagonal glass plates were all stack-able.

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24) Bugs, Dirt, and Twigs. This one is for the kids! Very fun.

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Caterpillar = marshmallow

Honey Bee = honey mousse on a graham cracker

Brown dirt clump = chocolate truffle

Green dirt clump = pistachio nut cake ball with a cream type filling

Bird’s egg = herbed cream in a candy shell

Sticks/Twigs = light airy cookie crisps

Even the espresso was nicely plated and presented.

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After we paid the bill, we walked out the back to see our car waiting for us at the end of the walkway.

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I only felt half-raped. Like some HUGE Blood or Crip bent me over the weight lighting bench in the prison yard but got interrupted after his dick tip penetrated my anal sphincter, thus depriving him of full penetration and allowing me to walk away with my dignity still somewhat intact. Overall a really good meal, though. I’ll never go back unless someone else is paying for it. Glad we went. Nice to see veggies in the forefront. Good attitude about food. Incredible use of asparagus. Maybe it was all one big episode of Chopped and that was the secret ingredient for every course?

Final asparagus score: four, not including multiple uses in the same course. Accordingly, I hereby call this restaurant by a new name: Blue Asparagus at Stone Barns.

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS
630 Bedford Rd.
Tarrytown, NY 10591

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