First Taste, Part Deux: The Farmhouse

I know—we left you hanging in the middle of dinner, with only the first few courses to keep hunger at bay. Here are some more first impressions of the Farmhouse, the top tier dining venue at Richard Gere’s Bedford Post spa/inn/restaurant complex

Pastas are all handmade at the Farmhouse, and include some favorites from Dinner at the Barn – like the dish of three ravioli, singly containing sheep’s milk ricotta, spinach and a luscious, locally-raised egg yolk. (A slice across all three pockets makes the perfect single bite.) One pasta we hadn’t seen—a mouth-slickingly rich agnolotti filled with gooey, slow-cooked veal, small-production robbiola cheese and hazelnuts — felt equally at home by the fire in Bedford, as it would in a rustic, Emilia-Romagna inn. Also yummy, a square cut and bouncy spaghetti all chitarra, simply dressed in a brawny, anchovy-laced sauce.

Great—but if you’re ordering a la carte, DO NOT skip mains for pastas, no matter how much you’ve overindulged this holiday season. (Do the Master Cleanse for a month or two to save up calories, if you have to). We found one of our favorite fish dishes all year, a Madeira-glazed black cod, which was – to paraphrase a snarky critic talking about movies and books — fish so good it could have been meat. Except I mean this all honesty: this dish achieved what few fish dishes do. It was richly-flavored, soulful, deep, perfumed, and oddly earthy (thanks to feet-on-the-ground compliments of Madeira and root veg). To be honest, I’ve been dreaming about that freaking cod since I tasted it.

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Which should not take away from other hits in the meal, like the trio of Berkshire pork that we wrote about in our review of the Barn. Here, the jowl, loin and belly are laid out in perfect bites, ideal for comparing the pork’s wealth of tastes and textures. While prosciutto-wrapped loin is elegant, the belly is the star; it’s layered with horizontal strips of fat like a napoleon, glazed and mildly sweet — it melts in the mouth like a porky ribbon candy. Also dreamy, a MacFarlane Farms pheasant—salty, big-flavored and strong – it was tempered by creamy, hand-peeled roasted chestnuts, still fragrant of the woods.

Can there be more? Why, yes, folks—there is. Desserts are all on point, and include house-made gelatos and ices, like the palate-clearing Mountain View Farm apple cider sorbet that only lacked pesky skin and core to invoke the whole gorgeous fruit. Our favorite dessert, a warm peanut butter mousse with chocolate gelato and peanut butter brittle, was an elegant take on a Reese’s cup, except with the playful, palate-tickling sensations of hot/cold added into the mix. Yum.

With GM Christopher Tunnah taking over the beverage program, there’s much more to say about wine, but we’ll leave that for another time. We will give shouts out now to two selections on the by-the-glass list: a Jurancon Sec from Santa Barbara (a plush, roomy white, big enough to bridge several disparate first courses), and the Rare Wine Co.’s resonant Historic New York malmsey Madeira. Located on the dessert list, this classic malmsey is sweet, and a good compliment to its partners on the list—but, that said, this wine is complex enough to enjoy well after the edibles are cleared.

Okay—in closing, I will indulge in one BHSB comparison. Cocktails. For a while now, BHSB’s GM Philippe Gouze’s has been the unchallenged genius of the Westchester’s cocktail scene. He’s devised everchanging corpus of drinks that perfectly encapsulate BHSB’s mission, like this ‘unbloody Mary’ that appeared in WM August issue. Fabulous, he’s wonderful….but he might have someone nipping at his toes. Here’s what we found at the Farmhouse:
Post Road Sparkler (Cidre Sec, Madeira, pomegranate)
“Mulled” Manhattan (bourbon, Concord grape, Aromatic bitters)
Poached Pear (gin, fresh pear juice, Pastis)
Honey & Heather (Riesling, scotch, Bärenjäger)

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