Located in a historical speakeasy 3 steps below street level, Blue Hill , is a elegant New York City restaurant that focuses their refined cuisine around sustainable, local ingredients from their own farm. Family owned and operated by the Barbers, who are dedicated to creating a new, sustainable food system, this renowned restaurant is the first of their mini food empire.
Julian: Funny story–during my junior year of high school we were assigned to do a research project about something we were passionate about in my environmental science class. I was just getting into restaurants and cooking then, so I chose to do my project on Blue Hill restaurant. I thought what they were doing (having a restaurant that sourced almost exclusively from its own farm) was pretty sweet, so I wrote a 10 page paper and did a presentation about it. Who’da thunk that 6 years later I’d actually be starting up something very similar…
Jesse: Ella and Katie: freaking awesome people. Katie works as the service director at Blue Hill and Ella was our peppy, knowledgeable waitress. I happened to drop one word while Julian I did our normal poking and prodding to figure as much as we could about the inner workings of the restaurant: “covers”. Ella’s immediate reaction was — waiiit, are you guys in the industry? After telling her a little about our food journey, she was bursting with places we needed to visit–both in NY and abroad. The rest of our dinner we had the pleasure of both Ella and Katie dropping by with questions about what we were doing and great advice on food we needed to experience.
Julian: That service was above and beyond any level of personal attention I’ve ever experienced. They also brought us a bunch of free dishes (they brought us quite a few dishes we weren’t expecting–I’m not sure if that was built into the normal dining experience or if they were just giving us special treatment because they liked what we were doing. But it made us feel good). Onto the food: I loved almost every single dish we were served. Such pure flavors, perfectly combined. When I took a bite, it wasn’t like oh, I taste fava beans, parsley, and pork. Rather, it was one completely unified flavor that was completely unique. That’s the mark of a really great chef.
Jesse: And we got to experience quite a bit of their food. Unlike most restaurants with a tasting menu, at Blue Hill they don’t require everyone at the table get the tasting menu if one person wants it. The combination of doing the tasting menu, ordering 3 items a la carte, and getting several unexpected dishes enabled us to really get a broad picture of their menu.
Julian: At the end of the meal we were taken back to the kitchen, which I really appreciated. In typical New York fashion, they’re making a lot happen in a tiny space. Very impressive. It was also a good ten degrees hotter than any kitchen I’ve worked in, which is saying something.
Ultimately, we came away from Blue Hill in high spirits. The experience energized and inspired us. Next time I’m in New York, I’ll definitely make a point of heading out to Stone Barns, where they have their second restaurant, right on the farm.