75 Washington Place between MacDougal and Sixth Avenue
about $300 for two tasting menus and matching wine, with tip
The Dr. assured me that he passed his two-day long board exams. He won’t find out for sure for another three weeks, but I decided to prematurely congratulate him anyway. He’s always been curious about Blue Hill Restaurant and I’ve wanted to make another visit after a flying roach dropped on my bread plate in the middle of eating my main course. Two years ago, I could have given Blue Hill a four-heart review, but the insect cost them the other half. I know that other people wouldn’t even consider a return if they had the same experience I did. But the food is exceptionally good, inspired by local produce from the Hudson Valley and their own farm up in Stone Barns. I don’t care what people call it–water bug or a super roach–any insect has no place on my plate unless the insect itself is the food. (Hello, memories from eating beetles in Ilocos Sur and chapulines in Oaxaca.)
Why the two hearts again with this review? I’m smiling as I type this: our table was visited by yet another flying roach. I will take responsibility for the fact that I requested, like the last time, to be seated in the back garden instead of the main dining room. Before our tasting menu began, I was already a little wary that it will happen again. The Dr., in his usual composed manner, assured me that it won’t. Sure enough, during our second course, the insect started buzzing around the room. This time, the other diners were also aware of it. It landed on the wall next to me. I stood up, trying to contain myself, and it flew away. Convinced that that was it, I sat back down to try and finish my fish. And then, plop! The insect was inside the Dr.’s wine glass. It fluttered for a second and it flew away again. It never came back, as if it was really just saying to me, Hello, nice to see you again. This time, the other diners saw what happened and complained to our waitress before we did. The Dr.’s wine was replaced and the rest of the night wiled away without incident.
Oh, and the food? Still fresh and delicious, if you can take your mind off the roach story for a minute. We opted for the farmer’s feast which included one appetizer, two main courses and two desserts. The bean salad was delightful, on a bed of purslane and sprinkled with pistachios, made warm with “this morning’s” pullet egg. This was matched with a refreshing Plantagenet Riesling from Australia. A beautifully-done rouget was perfect with some Stone Barns greens tossed in arcuri garlic. Flawlessly-cooked fish just makes me so happy. Another white from Bruno Giacosa in Piedmont was its match. The Berkshire pork tasted a little like offal to me. Maybe because it was too fresh–if there is such a thing. I had to ask for a steak knife to slice through it. It wasn’t tough in an overdone sense; it just didn’t fall apart. The artichoke that was served with it was stuffed with zucchini and ricotta cheese, a quite lovely side I would want to eat again and again. A tempranillo and mazuelo blend was heftier, but kept the buzz in my head going. And mmm, the last two courses were our favorite types of desserts: a fromage blanc sorbet with fresh blueberries and a strawberry granita and sorbet with red and black raspberries. Both were sweetened with a Pineto from Brachetto d’Aqui.
Blue Hill keeps their two hearts from me because I was still impressed with the food considering the circumstances. I will definitely come back a third time, but I’ll make sure I’m far away from the garden.