Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Restaurant: Blue Hill

So this is my first post in a while due to busy times at work and a general lack of time due to the summer. I was lucky enough to secure a 7pm table through a family friend on the Friday of my birthday at Blue Hill in the west village. Nestled into a little nook right off Washington Square park, you would never even know that Blue Hill was there unless you looked for it. Missing Blue Hill, however, would really be a shame. The chef Dan Barber's cuisine, mainly based on farm fresh ingredients from their farm on the old Rockefeller estate in Tarrytown, is clean, tasty and of course, small portioned. Sometimes he gets a little carried away with the whole "farm fresh" idea (see the amuse of a radish), but the tastes, and flavor combinations almost always makes your surprised that what you are eating doesn't have more ingredients.

The atmosphere is somehow fancy and rustic at the same time, and tables are packed somewhat tight. Prices are of course on the high end of the spectrum given the demand just to get a table. Luckily the food and quality of ingredients more than make up for the price. Of all the appetizers we sampled, the "This Morning's Farm Egg" was far and away the best. A softly poached farm egg, with mushrooms, greens, and silky smooth herb broth melted together into one delicious bite after another. Each bite included a little bit of egg, some mushroom and the delicious herb broth to create a flavor explosion that you don't expect given the somewhat basic ingredients.

For main courses we shared 3 dishes - seared salmon, grilled hamachi and Hudson valley guinea hen. Also, the requisite sides of sauteed spinach and crispy bok choy were of course included. While the hamachi was nice, and the parsnip delicious, it was not a dish that I will remember months from now. The salmon was very delicate, and worth a second "taste" despite my mom saying no. The real standout, however was the Hudson valley guinea hen. Forgetting all the sides and other elements of the dish, the tenderness of the meat made me for the first time in my life want guinea hen again. Pair the perfectly cooked meat with the carrots, spices and trumpet mushrooms, and you had a dish that sparked magic in every bite.

For dessert, as has become my tradition, the cheese plate made an appearance. It was a wonderful selection of various locally grown cheeses, all with some nice bread. The other desserts we tried were quite a bit more decadent. The steamed cheesecake with dark chocolate, maldon salt and roasted peanuts split the table. I loved the almost pudding like taste of the cheesecake, but did not care for the saltiness from the peanuts. Others, however, loved the sweet and salty taste, and the added depth of the roasted flavor of the peanuts. To each their own I guess! Last we had the chocolate bread pudding, with chocolate sauce and banana ice cream. Personally, I have never been much of a bread pudding fan, but my mom loved it, and she has had quite a lot of bread puddings. I will, however vouch for the banana ice cream, which was delicious.

All in all the meal was excellent. Great service, amazing simple but flavorful dishes executed almost to perfection. The price is steep, so it will be another special occasion until I go back, but in the meantime, best of luck scoring a prime reservation!

The Rockefeller's Would Approve

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