Blue Hill at Stone Barns is the ultimate locavore dining experience. You can’t get much more local than picking harvesting vegetables and herbs right behind the restaurant or roasting the pig that grazes just a few hundred feet away. The restaurant has no menus, no specials of the day. Your meal is guided by what’s in season and what’s fresh. A welcome “journal” greets you with lists of what’s in season and how the dining experience works. For dinner, you have a choice of 5, 8 or 12 courses. The amount of food is fairly consistent across all three meals. Selecting a higher number of courses is simply a way to try more ingredients and different preparations. I’ve dined at Blue Hill twice. Different seasons, different company, different experiences completely.
A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a late night dinner with some out old college friends up for the weekend. The original plan was dinner at Buttermilk Channel, which I STILL embarrassingly enough have not been to. It was a group of 7, so a reservation a week in advance still left us with a 9:30pm seating. Sadly things changed. My friends who planned to stay in Brooklyn were bumped last-minute and moved to Manhattan, as if it was no big deal. Maybe I’m crazy but if you book a specific hotel in Brooklyn, you probably have a reason to do so. After work drinks moved to midtown, as did our dinner reservation. I had been to Craft and Colicchio & Sons before; both offered stunning meals. I had complete confidence in Tom Colicchio’s work so when I found a 10pm dinner reservation at Craftbar (thank you Open Table app!), I snagged it, knowing there would be something there for everyone.
I’ve made an executive decision here. And I can do that. Why? Well, because it’s my blog. I have decided to dub this seemingly ordinary week of May Brooklyn Locavore Restaurant Week. If you haven’t noticed, I write a fair bit of recipes here. I also love dining out. At restaurants that focus on farm to table and seasonal ingredients, of course. And I take a lot of pictures, like I do with most anything that involves food these days. What I’m not too good at is sharing. It’s not that I don’t want to rave about ever delicious morsel that enters my mouth, it’s more the fact that I don’t want to be like every other foodie that reviews restaurants. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people review restaurants and everything is the best. Best bloody mary I’ve ever had. Best pasta dish. Best, best, best. Well, what is it? Is this the best meal you ever had or is it one of those dozen other meals you claimed to be the best?
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of dining at RoCCA, a quaint Italian restaurant in Glen Rock, NJ. After devouring my meal, practically licking the plate, I was sold that this was the new “it” restaurant. You can imagine my surprise when I later learned it has been around for almost 9 years. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this place before? We’re talking YEARS of missed meals that can never be recouped. Now I’m certainly not an authority on Northern NJ restaurants, but in all honestly (because that’s what you do on blogs…speak honestly to thousands of people you don’t even know) I haven’t been to many that wow me. I LOVE that so many are BYOB, giving us a change to select from our well stocked Brooklyn wine cellar, but often I find the food at these restaurants tend to be mediocre. Nothing creative or extraordinary, and certainly nothing to make a pilgrimage from Brooklyn for. There are a few standouts of course–The Saddle River Inn, Latour, and Esty Street. With both my AND my husband’s family living in NJ, you think I would have gone to RoCCA years ago, but no. I guess they like to save Jersey’s best for themselves.