August 1, 2008

Restaurant review: Blue Hill NYC

My husband made reservations for us to celebrate our anniversary by dining at Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. The restaurant has been open since 2000 and prides itself on sourcing their ingredients locally and as much as possible from their own farm, Stone Barns, which is about 20 miles north of Manhattan. We stopped at Stone Barns last year on our way from the Adirondacks to New Jersey. I think I spent most of the day walking around with my jaw hanging open out of sheer awe over it's beauty and functionality.

That might quite an impression on us, so we were looking forward to our meal in the city. We made it there just before our reservation (The plan was to be there much earlier to grab a drink. Thanks a lot, Holland Tunnel.) and were seated not in the main restaurant but in the back or what they called their 'garden section'. Uh huh. Sometimes I wonder when we are placed in these 'special' areas it is because one of us has the wrong kind of shoes on or something. Well, the back room was really lovely and was not so dark like the main dining room. We were able to enjoy our meal with the lingering natural sunlight.

To recap the meal from memory (average-joe style and not restaurant critic style):
Appetizer: corn ravioli in a corn broth with celtuse (cross btw lettuce & celery) and roasted cherry tomatoes. The ravioli were so delicate and tender and you could tell by the deep yellow color that there was either a substantial amount of eggs and that they were fresh from the farm.

Entree: I had poached hake (I asked if it was an Atlantic fish, as I was unfamiliar with it, and the server said 'Long Island Sound??' and shrugged his shoulders, not knowing if that was the Atlantic Ocean or not. Wow. And he had been working there for 6 years...) in a vegetable pistou and my husband had farro with lamb shank and pork belly, fresh vegetables also played - asparagus and ...? I forget since it wasn't my dish!

Side: blanched haricots verts in a vinaigrette. SO simple. SO delicious. Something we wouldn't think of making for some reason. Maybe because I am no good at dicing shallot into a brunoise. They have to really be itty bitty for this to work, in my opinion.

Dessert: Strawberry granita served over farm-fresh yogurt, blueberries, strawberries. MMM. It was way better than it seemed it would be.

What I found so charming at first, and laughable later, were our amuse-bouche and mignardises...if you could call them that! Before our dinner, a server brought out a wooden block that was spiked with these long needles in the shape of a long 'S'. On either end of the S were two cherry tomatoes. Our server elegantly placed them in front of us with a: 'fresh from the farm. enjoy.' Oooookkkk. Pop into the mouth,...yes they are good....but come on. If anything, at least give me a whole bowl of them! After dinner was over, we were given a dish with two, small sugar plums. Cute. And yes, they were good, but again...not as special as the restaurant thought they were? Maybe if I was living in Manhattan I would be oohing and ahhing over the farm fresh goods, but even NYC has a farmer's market. So, I wasn't buying it.

All in all, everything was very good...although we both found each dish to be almost too salty. They took it right to the edge with the salt before going overboard. I like to taste salt, but every few bites it was getting in the way. Would I go back? If I lived nearby, it would be fun to go once a season. I would especially like to see how they deal with what produce comes from their greenhouse in February :)

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