It appears that I am in something of a culinary slump ... though not necessarily of my own doing. In evidence: the failed tahini cookies (which were so totally not my fault because it was not my recipe) and one ordinary meal at a previously thought extraordinary restaurant.
On Saturday night the husband and I had the pleasure of dining with a couple of long-time foodie friends. While the company was magnificent - the food, sadly, failed to astound. Odd too, because we dined at Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns. This was our third trip to the restaurant and, of the three meals, I'm sorry to say that Saturday night's was the least memorable.
Its not that the food was bad, more that it was unremarkable. I toted my camera along, took copious notes for a full review ... though now, as I sit down to write, I realize that I just wasn't that enthused about the meal ... not even enough to do a proper review. Frankly, that saddens me.
I remember with great pleasure the meal the four of us shared at Blue Hill last September. We happened to catch the very end of native tomato season and the tomato-based menu that evening was just silly with fresh flavor. I still long for the shot of cilantro spiked "tomato water" served that night - which in lesser hands could be seen as a throw-away frill, but under Barber's expert attention was nothing short of transcendent.
Sure, there was a shot of fresh juice on Saturday night as well - this time an apple/celery combo. Delightful to be sure, but not transcendent. And nothing I hadn't already tasted from my own brief affair with a juicer back in 1992. Seriously.
As the nine course meal was winding down - with a lamb chop that had been barely acquainted with a heat source, I might add - the four of us got to wondering if we'd just been there and done that one too many times. Have our palates become jaded by the wildly over-the-top meals we've shared? Or was Blue Hill at Stone Barns simply having an off night? I don't know.
Here's what I do know ... that potato chip pictured above was one of the highlights of the meal. Dusted with spice and slit through with a lively sprig of sage, it was a thing of beauty - gorgeous in both flavor and presentation ... yet still, a potato chip. Second to that was a lovely, violet bedecked salad of mixed greens, served atop a melange of savory sauteed mushrooms and just a hint of creamy dressing. Not quite transcendent, but almost. It was heavenly.
I wish I could say as much for the rest of the courses. I can't. Its especially disappointing given the two month wait for a reservation and our very long wait to be seated that night. The restaurant's setting and mission are magnificent, to be sure, but on this night the service was erratic and the dishes uninspired. I'm not at all slamming Blue Hills at Stone Barns, merely expressing some disappointment. Even the best of restaurants can have an off night. I still believe its well worth a visit, especially if you've not yet had the opportunity to dine there.
In all honesty, the most delicious thing I ate this weekend was a cheesesteak at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon. No reservations required ... just a heap full of napkins. Seriously. In retrospect, I should have taken my camera to the Yankee game and planned to review the food there instead. Next time for sure ... stay tuned.
So, have you had a disappointing meal at a famous restaurant? Or have you, too, become jaded by one too many OTT meals? Curious Diva wants to know.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for Thirsty Thursdays and get your drink on!