Last Night, my friends and I had the pleasure of dining at one of The Most Important Restaurant in America: Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Gradually, on arrival at this magnificent of a place that is both a farm and a restaurant, your taken away by the live brood of chickens, herd of pigs, flock of geese, the rafter of turkeys, drove of sheep and the different array of agriculture vegetation that surrounds you; everything just a bite away. It gushes your soul to a never-ending journey of Alice in Wonderland.
The exquisite diner journey that we were about to embark upon began with a tour of the 80 acres facility. I regard myself as a knowledgeable person, but I found myself in awe when I saw the array of green leafy vegetables that surrounded me in the Green Room of the fields; from the different colors of chard, to the kinds of spinach and leeks, ginger and more. The tour ended with a spectacular view of the Hudson beyond the farms on route to our seven o’clock reservations.
Looking on the outside of the Blue Hill at Stone Barns Restaurant, no one for the first time, would think in their wildest imaginations that this place is a suitable dining spot. Well, think again. The minute we entered the room, we walked right into the bar and lounge where guest(s) including my friends and I, sat and wait to indulge in the evenings beverage selections before we were quietly brought to our dining table. The ambiance, the atmosphere and the intricate details of it all was just beyond more than what I had expected. It was modern and chic, and one would expect to see a room filled with art, but this was the latter. To my observation, the windows were the art, the ‘focal’ point of the dining experience with a scenic view of the farm and the horizons. To our dismay, there were no silverware at the table, just your napkin, glassware and an introduction book explaining the night’s dinner choices.
There was neither a menu and our expectations were further confounded. But this is the point and, the glory of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the pigs or the chickens that we saw grazing as we drove in may well be the kin of what we find on our dinner plate. Our server asked if there are any ingredients that we didn’t want the kitchen to use in our meal, and after that we were in the kitchen’s hands. Eating this way added the elements of surprise and even a little drama to our restaurant experience. From the beginning of the dining experience we were taken by awe. Every meal was prepared to our expectations and likings and most of all, our level of spontaneity. The Amuse Bouche of a Chilled Corn Soup immediately gave way as to what the inspiring Chef Dan Barber was up to, and what our courses for the rest of the night will be like. Blue Hill at Stone Barns conceit of connecting the land with our dining experiencing was very remarkable. The service team consisting of servers, captains, sommeliers, bartenders, managers, led by General Manager, Philippe Gouze, acted like a choreography of dancers, “everything was synchronized.” All of them had a special role to play in making our night spectacular.
Writing this post, is not my usual [The Proper Gentlemen], but it was deemed to be mentioned. This is for every Proper Gentleman who would like to treat their special someone or just to be treated on a very special occasion when in town. Trust me when I say that it is worth every minute once you’ve walk in. The Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a place, that in my eyes, for the affluent; but what in your eyes is the affluent? The answer, is solely up to you. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from expected sources but unexpected origins. To say that both the meal and its makers have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking and dining is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist ‘can’ come from ‘anywhere’. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius’ cooking at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, who are, in my opinion, nothing less than the finest chefs around. Chef Barber, I will be returning ‘hungry’ for more.