Posts Tagged ‘Venison’

Le Hobbit Bistro – Quebec City, Canada

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 by virginia


I had done some research on restaurants in Quebec City prior to our trip but I wasn’t set on exactly where I wanted to eat, and I wasn’t really sure where the restaurants were located relative to our hotel. I wrote down a bunch of names and addresses, and so when we finally arrived in Quebec City late on Thursday night, we zeroed in on the restaurants closest to our hotel. There were two restaurants on the same street nearby so we walked past both and settled on Le Hobbit Bistro, which seemed like a slightly brighter, more upbeat and open space than our other option (where we ended up eating the next night).

There restaurant was busy, but not overly crowded, which was fortunate since J’s stroller takes up a lot of space. The waiter was pretty accommodating about shifting the tables around a bit so that we could put her (and all of her stuff) out of people’s way. It was after 9:30 pm by the time we settled in, and the waiter informed us that the kitchen would be closing soon so we quickly placed our order. Josh was in charge of the wine while I picked the dishes that we would share.

He wound up ordering a 1999 Bordeaux from Chateau Les Mangons. It needed a little time to open up a bit but wound up being smooth, medium bodied, not too dry, and very drinkable. The bread basket, on the other hand, was kind of sad with some limp pieces of baguette that had virtually no crust on it.

Bordeaux and baguette

Bordeaux and baguette

For our appetizers, we got the French onion soup and the sweetbreads with fig and truffle oil. The French onion soup was warm and comforting on a cold night, exactly what you expect, but nothing extraordinary. It was well seasoned, hearty, and had lots of melted cheese on top – there’s not much more you can ask for from a French onion soup.

French onion soup

French onion soup

I was really excited for the sweetbreads but I had started with the soup while Josh had started with this dish, and look on his face after he took one bite was not encouraging. He wouldn’t really explain to me what the issue was so after we made our customary swap midway through, I gingerly dug in to see what the face was all about. Immediately, I noticed that the texture of the sweetbreads was off. It should be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, but this was chewy and gristly. I don’t know if that was intentional or if they didn’t clean the sweetbreads properly, but the texture is what threw Josh off. We both agreed that the plating, however, was gorgeous.

Sweetbreads on top of celery root puree with fig and truffle sauce

Sweetbreads on top of celery root puree with fig and truffle sauce

Flavor wise, the dish was screaming for salt, which was scattered about the plate in little flakes, but not actually on the sweetbreads themselves. There was also almost no sauce on the plate, and whatever sauce there was didn’t really taste much like figs or truffle oil. That was pretty disappointing, since I love both. The celery root puree underneath the sweetbreads was properly seasoned though, as was the little microgreen salad next to it. When I got a little bit of everything on my fork and dragged it through the salt flakes, the dish was actually pretty tasty, if a bit subtle, but the texture was still bad. I had very mixed feelings about the dish overall, but I didn’t hate it as much as Josh did. If the sweetbreads were the crispy/creamy texture that I’m used to, I would eat it again. But they weren’t, and Josh thought it was just bland and bad in general. Oh well.

The main courses fared much better. We shared the venison skirt steak and the duck confit. The venison was tender and not too gamey, perfectly cooked so that it was pink and juicy on the inside. However, it also wasn’t seasoned enough. A little bit of salt would have really elevated the flavor of the meat. Nevertheless, the pureed sweet potatoes underneath were super creamy and perfectly balanced between sweet and savory, and the melted leeks were buttery and mellow. Except for the lack of salt, we both really enjoyed the dish.

Venison skirt steak with pureed sweet potatoes and melted leeks

Venison skirt steak with pureed sweet potatoes and melted leeks

The duck confit was served with a port sauce and roasted vegetables. The duck was perfectly prepared, with the meat falling off the bone at the slightest push of the fork. I was amazed that the skin was still super crispy, a great textural contrast to the tender meat. The port sauce was intensely flavorful, slightly sweet, and paired perfectly with the wine. And unlike the venison and the sweetbreads, this dish was perfectly seasoned, which made it our favorite of the evening.

Duck confit with port sauce and sweet potato puree

Duck confit with port sauce and roasted vegetables

We passed on dessert, opting to enjoy the last bit of our wine instead. Overall we really did enjoy our meal at Le Hobbit, despite the few missteps with our dishes. While the texture of the sweetbreads was definitely problematic, everything else was just a seasoning issue and could have been easily fixed with a dash of salt. We liked the vibe of the restaurant, which seemed to be full of locals – most tables were groups of friends chatting in French, eating, and drinking. Our waiter was very accommodating, and we did not feel completely out of place dining with a baby. Prices were pretty reasonable – not cheap, but in line with a nice meal out. With two appetizers, two entrees, and a nice bottle of wine, dinner cost about $165 after tax and tip. It’s definitely a place I would recommend to someone traveling to Quebec City.

Le Hobbit Bistro
700 Rue Saint-Jean

Quebec City, Canada

Cafe Boulud

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by virginia

Josh recently celebrated a milestone birthday, hitting the big 3-0. In honor of the occasion, I made reservations for dinner at Cafe Boulud. I booked the reservation on Open Table, noting that we were celebrating my husband’s 30th birthday. When I got a call from the restaurant the day before our dinner to confirm our reservation, the person on the phone also asked what my husband’s name was, so I was happy they got note I wrote.

Josh and I met up at Central Park before dinner and took a little walk around the lake to kill some time before our reservation. We still showed up about 15 minutes early but they seated us right away without any issues. We had a cozy spot in the far corner, sitting next to each other on a comfortable booth. I liked the decor of the restaurant, with neutral tones mixed in with dark wood, accented by small, bright and colorful paintings on the wall. The first and only time we had eaten at Cafe Boulud, a few years ago during Restaurant Week for lunch, I found the decor to be a bit bland, kind of like a nondescript hotel restaurant room. This was a big improvement, though a lot of the changes were pretty subtle.

While we were perusing the menu, they brought us an amuse bouche of deep fried risotto balls filled with smoked mozzarella. These were served piping hot and perfectly fried – crispy on the outside, creamy and gooey on the inside. It was a nice little bite to start off our meal.

Deep fried risotto balls with smoked mozzarella

It took us a while to decide on what to order because there were so many options that looked tempting. It was such a difficult decision that we ended up ordering two appetizers, two pasta courses, and two entrees, sort of making our own tasting menu. I liked that everything was a la carte because we could pick whichever dishes we wanted. As is our custom, we each started with a dish and then swapped plates halfway through.

After making our selections, we settled in to enjoy our meal. First was a visit from the bread man, who happily gave us a piece of each bread to try. In addition to the usual baguette, there was an olive rosemary roll and slices of sourdough, pumpkin seed, and raisin bread. While the sourdough was a bit bland, the pumpkin seed bread was interesting. It really was chock full of pumpkin seeds, giving it a salty, nutty taste. The raisin bread was good but I liked the baguette (of course) and the olive rosemary roll best. Both had hearty crusts and flavorful, chewy insides. I only wish that the bread was served warm, but at least the bread guy came by often to check if we wanted more bread.

Baguette and olive rosemary roll

Sourdough, pumpkin seed, and raisin bread

For our appetizers, we ordered the capon terrine and a special of the evening, the lobster bisque. The capon terrine was hard for us to resist because it featured black truffles and foie gras, as well as puy lentils and an espelette (a type of pepper) jam. The presentation was visually stunning, with the different layers of the terrine clearly defined. The foie gras took center stage and I enjoyed the livery richness, although I prefer foie gras when it’s sauteed and creamy, rather than cold. Also, while we could see the black truffle layer, it actually didn’t impart too much truffle flavor, much to my disappointment. Still, the capon was very tender, and all the components on the plate worked well when eaten together. I liked cutting off slices of the terrine and eating it with some crunchy toasts that accompanied the dish, providing some textural contrast. It was an interesting dish, though probably not something Josh or I would order again.

Capon terrine with foie gras and black truffles

The lobster bisque was topped with a tarragon foam and had a few english pea gnocchis at the bottom. The foam really didn’t do much for us, but the gnocchis were fabulous, with a light and creamy texture. The bisque itself was full of lobster flavor, however, it was much thinner and lighter than most bisques we’ve had. It didn’t seem like they used much cream in it, if at all. Some people might prefer that, but for us, we like our bisques to be a little bit thicker and more creamy. I think the cream helps the flavor coat your mouth and gives the soup a certain velvety richness. With this particular bisque, the flavor was intense at first sip but didn’t linger. We also couldn’t really use the bread to sop up what was left at the bottom of the bowl because the soup was so thin, which was a bit disappointing since that’s usually one of our favorite parts. Nevertheless, the bisque wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t to our personal preference.

Lobster bisque

For our pasta course, we got appetizer portions of the sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi and the celery root agnolotti. The gnocchi were enrobed in a broccoli rabe puree that was light and fresh, not bitter at all, and topped with dollops of ricotta, chopped toasted hazelnut, and a drizzle of olive oil. The gnocchi themselves were creamy and not the least bit dense. I liked that there were still bigger pieces of broccoli rabe mixed into the puree, adding texture to the dish, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the chopped hazelnut. While it gave a nice little crunch, I found the flavor of the hazelnut to be overpowering, ruining the delicate tang of the sheep’s milk ricotta. I would have preferred toasted breadcrumbs instead, which I thought worked well with the ravioli we had at the Union Square Cafe. Josh liked the hazelnut though, so I guess it’s a personal preference. Nevertheless, it was a very delicious dish.

Sheep's milk ricotta gnocchi

As good as the gnocchi were, our other pasta dish was even better. It featured agnolotti, which were little raviolis filled with pureed celery root. The filling was creamy and savory, and the agnolotti were topped with soft chestnuts, celery leaves, and black truffles. Again, the black truffles weren’t as flavorful as I had hoped, but the dish was absolutely fabulous. It was rich and flavorful, with lots of butter in the sauce, but we couldn’t get enough of it. The celery leaves lightened the dish just a tad, and we were scraping the sauce from the bowl with pieces of bread. This was our favorite dish of the evening.

Celery root agnolotti with chestnuts, celery leaves, and black truffle

For our entrees, we split the venison loin and the pan seared striped bass. The venison was cooked sous vide and then seared on the outside, so that it was ruby red throughout, but with a nice crust. The meat was tender and just slightly gamey. It was served with smoked sweet potato flan, shallot confit, and a juniper berry sauce. The sweet potato flan was really interesting, with an intense smokey flavor that reminded us of barbecue flavored potato chips. The thin, crispy sweet potato slices on top only added to that impression. The juniper berry sauce was slightly sweet, and paired well with the venison.

Venison loin with smoked sweet potato flan

The pan seared striped bass was perfectly cooked – the skin was crispy while the flesh was flaky yet meaty. The bass was served on a white bean cassoulet with mushrooms. The menu also said there was pork belly, but we didn’t see any visible pieces. I think perhaps it was mixed in with the sauce and cassoulet, because it tasted very rich and hearty. I loved the subtle sweetness of the beans and the earthiness of the mushrooms. It was a very well composed dish.

Pan seared striped bass with pork belly, white bean cassoulet, and mushrooms

For dessert, we ordered the special of the evening, the Grand Marnier souffle. When they came with our dessert, however, they also brought Josh an additional molten chocolate cake with a candle in honor of his birthday. They even wrote “Happy Birthday Josh” on the plate, which is I guess why the woman on the phone asked for his name when she confirmed our reservation. It was a very nice gesture, and though we were both pretty full at this point, we gobbled up the cake. It was dark and rich with a warm, gooey center, just as you would expect, and the accompanying coffee ice cream was a good match.

Molten chocolate birthday cake

The Grand Marnier souffle was served with a small pitcher of creme anglaise and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was light and fluffy, just like a good souffle should be, and the flavor was spot on. We’ve had Grand Marnier souffles before and they usually just taste like a vanilla souffle with maybe a hint of orange. This particular souffle actually tasted like Grand Marnier, right down to the slight bite from the alcohol. It wasn’t too sweet, and we liberally poured the creme anglaise into the center, which gave it an extra boost. The ice cream in this case was unnecessary, as the souffle and sauce were more than enough to satisfy us.

Grand Marnier souffle with creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream

Lots of creme anglaise poured in the middle

They also brought us a small basket of madeleines, which were similar to the ones we received at Daniel. They were delicately crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, slightly sweet and citrusy. I couldn’t stop popping them into my mouth, even though I was about ready to burst at this point.


During our meal, while we were eating the venison, Josh asked our waiter a lot of questions about the temperature at which the meat was cooked, the reason being that he had just received a Sous Vide Supreme for his birthday. We were also discussing the Executive Chef of Cafe Boulud, Gavin Kaysen, during our meal, and were debating whether or not he really cooks at the restaurant anymore given that he is a famous chef in his own right. Josh asked if I wanted to meet him, and our waiter overheard, telling us that Chef Kaysen was indeed cooking in the kitchen, and offered to take us on a tour. We were thrilled, of course, so after we paid our bill we followed our waiter into the kitchen.

The space was smaller than other restaurant kitchens we’ve seen (Alinea, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Eleven Madison Park) but most likely because the restaurant itself is smaller. There was some activity going on but it wasn’t chaotic, probably because service was winding down. Chef Kaysen took the time to greet us and speak with us for a little while. When Josh asked him about the sous vide venison, Chef Kaysen took us into a back room to show us the restaurant’s huge immersion circulator.

I knew Chef Kaysen was a young guy, in his early 30s, and I’ve seen him on TV before, but I was really struck by how young he looked. It’s pretty incredible what he has accomplished in his career already. I mean, this is the guy that represented the U.S. at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or four years ago! But I was drawn in by the fact that he was also totally down to earth and incredibly friendly, even ribbing our waiter good naturedly while we chatted.

Josh and I both found Cafe Boulud to be a wonderful experience all around. The food was delicious and the service was top notch. Our waiter was knowledgeable and engaging, knowing when to check up on us and when to leave us alone. Even the runners were superb, taking the time to speak with us when they served our courses or cleared our plates, always making sure that everything was ok. With regard to the meal itself, we thought that all the dishes were well prepared and beautifully presented. The pasta course stood out for us, as did the entrees. Even dessert was a hit, though I always like to say that we’re not dessert people. It was a nice way to finish off our meal, and our faux tasting menu would have been incomplete with out it. Cafe Boulud is definitely somewhere on our top 10 list, and I would love to go back there again. It was a bit pricey, though to be fair, we did order four courses each and split a nice bottle of wine. Josh also had a scotch at the beginning of the meal. If we had shown some restraint, the bill would have been much more reasonable, but hey, it was a special occasion. As long as the birthday boy was happy, so was I!

Cafe Boulud
20 East 76th St. between Madison and 5th Ave.
New York, NY

Union Square Cafe

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 by virginia

The Union Square Cafe consistently ranks as one of the most popular restaurants in NYC, according to the Zagat Guide. For years, Josh and I have been saying that we wanted to try it but could never get a reservation for when we wanted to go because we didn’t make the reservation early enough. For our 13th anniversary, Josh surprised me with a coveted USC reservation. Both of us were super excited about the meal because we had read really positive things about the restaurant, and being that it’s part of Danny Meyer’s restaurant empire, we expected great service as well.

There were lots of things on the menu that we wanted to try, so picking our dishes was quite a difficult decision. We debated for a while before finally settling on two appetizers, a shared pasta mid course, and two entrees. After a celebratory cheers with a lovely red wine that Josh picked out, we attacked the bread basket with gusto. There were two mini baguettes that were pretty tasty, with a crackly crust and airy insides. There were also two slices of wheat bread that I wasn’t crazy about because they were kind of cottony and dry in texture. Lastly, there were pieces of large, crispy rosemary crackers that needed just a touch of salt but were otherwise delicious. The baguettes were my favorite, though I found the crackers pretty interesting.

Basket of breads

We also received a small bowl of briny olives that were flavored with citrus peel. The flecks of orange and lemon zest were very nice touches and gave each olive some unexpected zip and sweetness. It’s a neat idea that I think we can replicate at home.

Olives with citrus zest

For our first course, Josh and I split the spanish mackerel crudo and the shrimp and sunchoke bisque. The crudo was beautifully cut and presented, featuring artichoke puree, olive tapenade, and chili oil. Mackerel is usually a pretty fishy fish but this one was surprisingly light, though perhaps a bit low in flavor (I actually enjoy the oily fishiness one usually associates with mackerel). Fortunately the accompaniments were delicate enough not to overpower the crudo, even though one would also expect bold flavors from olive tapenade and chili oil. When everything was eaten together, it all worked well and it was very refreshing. I did think the portion was a bit small though, with just four little pieces of fish.

Spanish mackerel crudo

The shrimp and sunchoke bisque was rich and creamy, as one would expect. There was a deep shrimp flavor and a slight toasty-ness/smokiness that was a bit unexpected. It was a well-crafted soup, though not particularly exciting.

Shrimp and sunchoke bisque

For our pasta mid course, we split an appetizer order of winter greens ravioli with preserved lemon, garlic breadcrumbs, and pecorino romano cheese. The appetizer portion came with four plump raviolis that were just bursting with flavor. The winter greens tasted fresh, the lemon added a brightness, and the breadcrumbs were little crunchy garlicky bits. The dish was beautifully composed, perfectly seasoned, and everything was harmonious.

Winter greens ravioli

For our entrees, we split the grilled smoked shell steak and the pan seared venison loin chop. I had never eaten smoked steak before, and even though it looked like a normal, perfectly cooked steak, the flavor was like nothing I had ever tasted. It was extremely smoky in flavor, almost tasting a bit like ham. It was really unusual, but still tender and delicious. The steak was served with roasted cauliflower and bone marrow mashed potatoes that were just out of this world. The bone marrow flavor was really apparent, adding a lovely richness to potatoes. Even though I couldn’t finish my share of the steak because it was such a big portion, I couldn’t stop eating the mashed potatoes.

Grilled smoked shell steak with roasted cauliflower and bone marrow mashed potatoes

The venison was also beautifully cooked, a perfect medium rare on the inside. It was just slightly gamey (I like gamey), and paired wonderfully with the accompanying huckleberry gastrique that added just a bit of sweetness. The venison was served on a bed of a rich and creamy risotto and topped with a light shaved brussels sprout and apple salad. It was also a hearty, rich entree, generously portioned, and we had a hard time finishing this dish as well, though we both enjoyed it immensely.

Pan seared venison

Our eyes turned out to be bigger than stomachs, and we were both too full for dessert. Our waitress was disappointed when we turned it down, and ended up bringing us a box of cookies to take home with us in honor of our anniversary. It was an incredibly sweet and unexpected gesture (apparently she had overheard our toast at the beginning of the meal), and we enjoyed the cookies the next day.

Box of cookies

There were many different types of cookies, including a chocolate biscotti, a pistachio biscotti, a chocolate chip cookie, a chocolate chocolate chunk cookie, a peanut butter sandwich cookie, maple pecan shortbread, a macaroon, a blondie, and a brownie. Of course I had to taste each one, and all were delicious. The pistachio biscotti and the peanut butter sandwich cookie were my favorites.

Assortment of cookies

Overall Josh and I were extremely pleased with our meal at the Union Square Cafe. The food was delicious, and everything was meticulously prepared. We both loved the pasta course, as well as our entrees. While the appetizer portions were a bit small, the entrees were huge, and we were stuffed when we left. There were still lots of things on the menu that we wanted to try so I’m sure we will be back. Our dinner wasn’t cheap but prices were definitely reasonable enough that maybe we won’t have to wait for a special occasion to go next time. Service was wonderful, exactly what you would expect from a Danny Meyer restaurant. Our waitress was helpful and attentive, answering all of our questions and checking up on us to make sure we were enjoying our meal. It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend checking it out – it’s worth it.

Union Square Cafe
21 East 16th St. between 5th Ave. and Union Square West
New York, NY

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 by virginia

To give you an idea of just how back-logged I am with posting, this meal took place in March. For Josh’s aunt’s birthday, we landed a coveted reservation at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY. The restaurant is located within the Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture, and it is surrounded by an actual working farm that produces much of the ingredients for the menu, giving even more meaning to “locally sourced”.

The path leading up to the restaurant

We arrived at the restaurant around dusk so we didn’t have much time to explore the grounds, unfortunately, but we did watch them drive a whole herd of cattle up the road, which was pretty interesting. We settled down at our table and looked around in awe at the gorgeous setting. The ceiling was high and vaulted, with beams running across the top, and there was an island in the middle of the room with a huge vase of blossom-filled branches. The room had a tranquil feel to it, and was both rustic and elegant at the same time.

Beautiful blossoms

There is no real menu at the restaurant, just a long list of over a hundred ingredients that are in season and can be used for your meal. There is a choice between a five course dinner and an eight course dinner but you don’t know exactly what is included in each course. The wait staff will ask if there are any foods you can’t or don’t eat, and what some of your preferences may be. Once you decide on how many courses you would like, the kitchen takes care of the rest. We opted for the eight course meal, with the accompanying wine pairings, and our table’s only request was not to have offal during any of the courses. This was the only downside for me and Josh, because we like offal and would have liked to taste farm fresh organ meats, but everyone at the table receives the same dishes so we were outvoted 4-2.

Once everything was settled, our farmer’s feast began. And what a feast it was, with multiple rounds of amuse bouches to start. First was an assortment of “chips” made from farro, beets, and celery root. The beet chip was my favorite, as the dehydration process intensified the flavor and the sweetness of the beets.

Farro, beet, and celery root "chips"

Next was a carrot soup served in shot glasses. The soup was absolutely fabulous, packing intense carrot flavor in that tiny little glass. I would have happily eaten an entire bowlful of this soup.

Shots of carrot soup

We were also given baby carrots and super tiny heads of romaine lettuce presented on a spiked board. The vegetables, which were served raw and just lightly seasoned with salt and a little lemon juice, were incredibly fresh and shockingly tasty. If only all vegetables tasted like that!

Fresh baby carrots and romaine

Next we had thin slices of house cured coppa on top of potato and eggs…

Slice of coppa over potato and egg

Followed by a little beet burger in an almond flour bun. The burgers were really cute but I made the mistake of trying to bite one in half and the beet filling fell out, leaving a red stain on the pristine tablecloth. Oops!

Beet burgers with almond flour buns

Then we had salsify wrapped with pancetta and buckwheat…

Salsify wrapped in pancetta and buckwheat

And last, but not least, we had a charcuterie platter with bologna and lanzo (pork loin). Phew! That was a lot of food, and we hadn’t even started on our farmer’s feast courses yet!

Bologna and lanzo (pork loin) charcuterie

After the parade of amuse bouches finally ended, we were served a basket of potato onion bread with various accompaniments. The bread had a thick, crackly crust and a fluffy yet chewy interior.

Potato onion bread

Even after all the amuses, we couldn’t stop eating the bread because of the spreads they gave us to go with it. There was a whipped lard cottage cheese, Ronnybrook butter, and dehydrated beet salt. It was fun to smear on some butter or cottage cheese and sprinkle on the magenta colored salt. Everything was just so rich and flavorful.

Ronnybrook butter, whipped lard cottage cheese, dehydrated beet salt

Finally, our farmer’s feast started off with a piece of sea bass served with whole grain mustard and citrus. The sea bass was perfectly cooked, and it was a light, refreshing way to begin the main part of our meal.

Sea bass with whole grain mustard and citrus

Our next course had a very interesting presentation. It was a rutabaga wrapped in hay and cooked in a salt crust. They showed us what it looked like during the cooking process before giving us the finished dishes.

Rutabaga wrapped in hay and baked in a salt crust

The finished dish featured a slice of rutabaga with sauerkraut and a date puree. I’ve never had rutabaga before, and it tasted a bit like a sweet potato. It was sweet and a little smoky, but the dish lacked pizazz and was a bit one note.

Rutabaga with sauerkraut and date puree

Our third course was Maine shellfish with potatoes and spinach. The shellfish featured shrimp, mussels, and clams, and it was served in a large shot glass with a frothy blend of the potatoes and spinach. I wasn’t a huge fan of the froth, which was mostly airy bubbles, and I wished there was a bit more seafood inside.

Shellfish with potato and spinach

Our next course featured eggs, so they presented us with a “nest” of eggs while they explained the dish.

Nest of eggs

The dish itself was a stew of mushrooms and dehydrated vegetable with an egg in the middle, and lettuce froth. We broke open the egg to reveal a silky, bright orange yolk that ran into the stew, adding a wonderful richness to it. The dish was wonderfully composed and absolutely delicious. I didn’t even mind the lettuce froth, as it lightened the texture of the stew and was appropriate in this instance. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Farm egg stew with mushrooms, dehydrated vegetables, and lettuce froth

The next course featured cured unlaid eggs, which were dense orange globes that they grated over the dish.

Cured unlaid eggs

The eggs were grated over tortellinis filled with goat shoulder and served in a broth with sunchokes. The tortellinis were wonderfully meaty but not too gamey. The grated eggs looked like parmesan but had a totally different flavor and added some richness to the dish.

Tortellini with goat shoulder and sunchokes

Our last savory course was venison with miso glazed sweet potato and baby bok choy. The venison was prepared sous vide, rendering it melt in our mouths tender. The bok choy was crisp and fresh, and the sweet potato had a Japanese flavor to it thanks to the miso. It was a great combination of flavors, and I ate all of it even though I was stuffed to the gills by this point.

Venison with miso glazed sweet potato and bok choy

Our first dessert featured honey, and they showed us a board with fresh honeycomb.

Fresh honeycomb

The dessert was tofu with honey and meyer lemon. The tofu by itself was bland and kind of bitter, but took on a completely new character when eaten with the honey and lemon. It was sweet and sour and creamy all at the same time. The lemon made it very refreshing, and it was a good palate cleanser after all the savory foods we had.

Tofu with honey and meyer lemon

The last course in our farmer’s feast was a hazelnut crunch with cocoa nib ice cream and caramel. The hazelnut crunch part was kind of like an upscale candy bar, tasting a bit like a Ferrero Rocher. It had thin crunchy layers and a strong hazelnut flavor. It was a pretty rich dessert, good for any chocolate fan, and a strong finish to the feast.

Hazelnut crunch with cocoa nib ice cream and caramel

Finally, we ended with some little sweet and savory treats, featuring a yogurt all spice marshmallow, flax seed caramel, and dark chocolate. Even though I was bursting at the seams by this point, I couldn’t resist. I liked that everything wasn’t overly sweet and sugary, and it was a lovely note on which to finish the meal.

Yogurt all spice marshmallow, flax seed caramel, chocolate

After our meal, we were taken on a tour of the kitchen, which is always a treat. We got to meet Chef Dan Barber and see the action going on in the kitchen. There was definitely lots of cooking on, though it was composed chaos and everything looked pretty orderly. We did ask for Chef Barber’s permission before taking some photos.

Chef Dan Barber in the kitchen (he's the one with the purple dish towel)

Overall I think we had mixed feelings about our meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The setting is really lovely and the service was top notch, but the food was a bit inconsistent. We loved every single amuse bouche (all seven!) and the meal got off to an amazing start. Afterward, however, the courses were up and down. The highlights for me were the egg/mushroom/dehydrated vegetable stew and the venison, but the rest of the courses were just ok. Adequate, but not spectacular. On the bright side, all of the vegetables in each of the dishes were absolute standouts. Farm to table cuisine is really something special, and makes you appreciate the beauty of fresh, seasonal produce. While I don’t think this meal cracks our top 5, it definitely still ranks up there in the top 10, and it was a great overall dining experience.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Rd.
Pocantico Hills, NY