Snapshots From Blue Hill at Stone Barns

[Photos: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a unique experience, to say the least. Situated in the beautiful Pocantico Hills about 45 minutes north of the New York City, the restaurant is located in the middle of a fully functional farm and education center.

While the primary goal of the farm is educational, it does provide many of the meats and vegetables served at the restaurant itself, though Chef Dan Barber sources from an additional 60 to 70 farms. Even at the height of vegetable season towards the end of the summer and early fall, the farm can only provide about 20% of the produce needed to serve the dining room, which is fully packed every night.

Menus are fixed, with either 5-course ($108) or 8-course ($148) options, though in reality, with all the extras thrown in, you end up losing count of the actual number of courses you've been served. Because of its highly seasonal nature and the wide range of sources for its produce and meat, dinner at Blue Hill can be an unpredictable, but always delicious affair (I've never had a meal that's been short of spectacular there).

While you'll see variations on certain themes—raw vegetables stuck on spikes, poached fried eggs in a green vegetable puree—it's unlikely that you'll ever be served the same dish there twice. It makes for exciting (and extremely delicious) eating.

Vegetables are so good here that you might want to do what I've done on a few occasions: opt for the vegetarian tasting menu. It'll seriously blow you away. I've eaten the best carrot of my life here; though this suggestion really does a disservice to the meat, which is also stunning. About 65% of the meat they serve comes from their own animals. Pigs (of the fuzzy Mangalista variety), chickens, turkeys, and sheep all call Blue Hill home (until they're served, that is), as do large flocks of chickens (1,300 eggs are produced each day!), and 25 hives of bees.

Most meals will have at least one course that comes from the animals on the farm.

My favorite time to go is early evening in the summer or fall. Get there early so that you can wander around the grounds for a while and see the farm in action before sitting down for you meal. It's an unbelievably relaxing way to get away from the city.

Check out the slideshow for a quick tour of the grounds and some dishes you might see at a meal there.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills NY 10591 (map) 914-366-9600