Tag Archives: stone

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

Blackstone

Blackstone overall score: 83

A few months back I received a gift card to use at a group of restaurants on long Island. Blackstone, Insignia, and Rare 650. Rare 650 was a bit too far from my home, and I had already been to Blackstone once before (pre-reviewing days), so we wanted to try Insigna. The menu there looked like it had a better selection anyway. At 4pm we called to try to make a reservation, but the other end of the line was so noisy with blasting music that my wife couldn’t hear anything on the phone. The woman hung up on her. My wife called back, and the cunty woman said they didn’t have any openings until 9:30pm, the music was still blasting, and then she hung up on my wife. Very unprofessional. So we gave up on the idea of Club Insignia, with all night long house music on the 1s and 2s, and went back to Blackstone. A note about my first trip to Blackstone a few years back; I had a great meal, but two of us got VERY sick (pissing-out-of-our-asses-all-night-long kind of sick). After some careful research into who ate what, we could only surmise that the two items me and the other person had that might have made us sick was a pint of Guinness. Sometimes the tap can get a funk if it isn’t poured often. A few of us all had ribeyes and shared the same apps, so it couldn’t have been the food (or so we think).

Flavor: 8

My second trip here, which is what this review is based on, was a much better experience. I had the ribeye, as usual. It was cooked nicely, evenly, and it had a good crust locking in the juices. It was rested well too. It just lacked a little bit of seasoning punch, and there was some inedible fat in parts (on some ribeyes, you can eat every bite – even the fat). Overall a very good steak. Everything here had good flavor as a matter of fact. Nothing was a let down, but, then again, nothing was amazing (except maybe the broccolini). On a third trip (for lunch) I had a 14oz filet, and my wife had a mixed greens salad with string beans and mandarin oranges, with lobster tail on top of a crabmeat guacamole – that was friggin delicious (the guac). My filet was nice and crispy/charred on the outside, and perfectly medium rare on the inside. The edges did get a little dry, however, since it was such a thick cut of meat. I found that dipping into the steak sauce on occasion was a good way to keep the moisture level high.

STEAK

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

There’s a great selection here, and it is all top notch. They have all four of the basics (though they call the strip a sirloin, which makes me wonder) plus a great deal of stuff on special. When we went, there were two additional cuts on special; a 16oz boneless Oregon “wagyu,” and a 24oz bone-in sirloin. There’s a good selection of non-beef too.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The sizes are good here. The ribeye was 28oz on the bone. Plating was basic and clean, nothing too fancy. Here is a pic of the salad we got on the third visit (mixed greens, string beans, tomato, mandarin orange – with crabmeat guacamole on the side, topped with lobster tail meat):

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Price: 7

Check out the bill below; our gift card knocked off $150, but we still dropped about $140 on top of that. This place is a bit pricey for Long Island. Though the quality is good, I found that other places on Long Island are a better bargain (better prices for as good, if not better, food). My steak was $52; too much for Long Island. Other high priced items were the shellfish plateau ($59), crab claws ($55/pound), and some of the special sushi rolls ($35-$45 for a roll – to Blackstone’s defense, many of those sushi rolls have “kobe” beef, lobster, and other pricey ingredients). On a third trip for lunch I had a $25 gift card that Blackstone gave out for free on the web. Great deal – it saved me the tip (see second receipt below – before the $25 was removed).

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Bar: 9

The bar here is awesome. It’s big, spacious, well decorated, and boasts a great selection of booze and specialty cocktails. It’s definitely a place I could see people hanging at after work or before a full night out. They mix a nice martini to boot (though the olive was a bit too pickle tasting – standard jar olive).

Specials and Other Meats: 9

On special, Blackstone has at least one item for every section of their menu (and they have many sections). They offered a lobster sushi special, a few app specials (like crab claws by the pound, shellfish plateaus, and a mozzarella cheese app), two beef specials (ribeye and sirloin), a fish special (branzino), a pasta special, and a dessert special (chocolate & peanut butter Napoleon). I was impressed.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We started with the oysters, some sliced octopus and a sushi roll, and all were good. Clean, cold, and tasty. My wife ordered a shellfish plateau for her main meal, and it was great. It had a half a lobster, a half a snow crab, 5 clams, 4 oysters (2 east coast, 2 west coast), and shrimp. A bit pricey at $59, but it was good. On the side we had creamed spinach and broccolini. The creamed spinach was nicely done – not incredible but definitely not inedible. Standard. The broccolini, on the other hand, was amazing. Sauteed in oil and garlic, it had just the right amount of seasoning. I’d say that was probably the best part of the entire meal. For dessert, we tried the peanut butter and chocolate Napoleon. It was nice and light, surprisingly. It was served with a peanut powder of some kind that was really fluffy. It wasn’t just ground up peanuts. It must have been done via molecular gastronomy / food chemistry techniques or something. Delicious. I washed that down with a double shot of espresso, which was more like a quadruple shot; I couldn’t fall asleep later that night. One thing I recall from my first visit here was the “kobe” beef cooked on hot rocks – that was cool, and I remember it being really tasty, despite not being true kobe beef. On a third trip for lunch my wife and I split a trio of seafood (lump crab, half a lobster tail, and two huge shrimp ($26). For dessert we had a blondie banana creme pie that was absolutely the best thing on the menu.

Seafood Selection: 8

The seafood is great here. Aside from the incredible (though pricey) selection of sushi, they also have great traditional seafood fare that you often see on steakhouse menus. Crab claws by the pound was a nice departure from that as well. I was happily surprised to see that my plate of oysters for my app had different oysters from my wife’s plateau meal. Nice touch. Also, they had sushi specials that weren’t on the menu, and a branzino fish dish on special as well.

Service: 9

The service here was good. We had, basically, a team of two; a waiter and a waitress. They were attentive, friendly, and informative. The manager even did a swing-by to make sure we were okay. All the wait staff wore shirts and ties with jackets, and everyone else was nicely dressed and professional looking. The bread was a nice warm crisp sourdough, served with olive oil instead of butter. On the third trip the waiter forgot to bring us our broccolini side that we ordered. No harm done, since we were not charged for it. In addition the waiter misheard me when I said “no” to a second newcastle. So I imagine they had to dump that beer. Otherwsie the service was still great, as usual.

Ambiance: 9

Blackstone is no doubt Japanese themed. When you walk in, it has that sushi restaurant smell (market fresh, not Canal Street nasty). There is a sushi bar to the right, and the walls are all done with a nice natural ledge stone. There are a few nice looking fireplaces, high ceilings, and nice dark wood. To the left, there is the tremendous bar, and behind that, an outdoor lounge seating area next to a nice long modern fireplace, and more tables for outdoor dining (with retractable roof). The bathrooms were nice too. The men’s room had an attendant; stocked with mouth wash, gum, candy, and hand lotion in case your meal is so good that you need to jerk one out real quick in the stall.

BLACKSTONE
10 Pinelawn Rd.
Melville, NY 11747