Finally, Westchester is seeing Bedford Post’s Grand Plan manifested: the Farmhouse, the higher-end venue anticipated by Dinner at the Barn, is now open for business. We managed to sneak in on its third night of official existence, and here’s what we found.
One: Bedford Post vs. Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Comparisons are inevitable, right? But while both are chic restaurants located in countrified environs, and both serve ambitious, ingredient-driven, ‘haut barnyard’ menus, there’s a huge difference in scale between the two spots. It’s important to keep this in mind. The Farmhouse is intimate, seating only 55 diners, while BHSB hosts a comparatively vast 88. The Farmhouse aims for a smaller clientele, while BHSB is acting on a national stage. Plus, despite all the locally-sourced ingredients at the Farmhouse, it actually doesn’t have BHSB’s acreage out back. What is does have—slated to open soon—is a yoga studio, spa, and an eight-firelit-room luxury inn. So while BHSB pulls crowds (and national foodie publications) up from Manhattan for an evening, Bedford Post will be drawing smaller groups to Bedford horse country for the weekend. While BHSB is the darling of national foodie media, 10 bucks says that Bedford Post will become the darling of spa/resort/travel mags.
Two: Part-Owner/Designer/Architect Carey Lowell’s décor is chic, in tones of cream, cocoa and camel, while still evocative of the site’s rural heritage. You’ll see cane-seated chairs backed by Windsor-like rods, arranged on dark wooden floors under modern cylinder lampshades. Banquettes (in rich, brown artificial leather, for PETA’s sake) have rolled armrests for snuggling against, while a wall of sparsely-arranged pewter antiques are given graphic punch by framing glass panels. There’s a big, harvest-style table that works as a service station/design element/room separator, and the Farmhouse’s merrily flickering fireplaces (in the private and public dining rooms) are fueled by low-emission gas rather than big-carbon-footprint wood. Meanwhile, the Farmhouse’s hostesses are impossibly slim and beautiful, its tables covered in plush Frette linens, and its service and beverage program is overseen by the suave, ex-Gramercy Tavern, Ex-Craft, Ex Gotham Bar and Grill pro, GM Christopher Tunnah.
Three: as befits a horse-country spot owned by Hollywood elite Richard Gere, the dress code at the Farmhouse is California casual, despite an elegant room and Chef Brian Lewis’s ambitious, high style menu. Don’t bother with a tie or pantyhose, but we wouldn’t wear Dockers, either. We dined next to co-owner Russell Hernandez (the third, along with Gere and Lowell) and he swung in wearing a snuggly fleece jacket and jeans — but, and we’re just guessing here, it was an expensive snuggly fleece jacket and pair of jeans.
Four: as anyone who has dined at the Barn might expect, the food at the Farmhouse is excellent. Westchester’s having a few banner months in restaurant openings, with both Tarry Lodge and the Farmhouse slated to take top spots in Westchester’s rapidly elevating dining scene. While dining a la carte is an option, the Farmhouse’s five course tasting menu (offered at a reasonable $85) is the wisest introduction to Chef Lewis’s world — especially if your partner chooses the same. That way, with contrasting dishes for every course, you’ll sample much of the Farmhouse’s menu in one go.
Fans of Dinner at the Barn can revisit some of Lewis’s signatures—like “roots, shoots, fruits and leaves,” a refreshing pile of crispy verdure loved-up with tangy goat’s cheese, and cleanly sweet ice wine vinaigrette. Or a plush Jerusalem artichoke soup – which not only teases out the pale hues of this subtly-flavored relative to a sunflower, but it comes garnished with funky/yummy fontina toasts. (This makes a change from a former version, garnished with house-cured guanciale from John Boy Farms pork.) We were glad to greet another friend from the Barn, Lewis’s silken hamachi – this time offered with milk-poached fennel and a sweetly acidic spoonful of cubed Asian pears. (It also appeared topped with a lush gob of uni and shiso leaves—folks, we could have eaten this dish all week.) Meanwhile, we made new friends with a chiogga beet salad, where the sugary, bull’s-eye coins of pink, orange and gold were balanced by a luxurious black pile of sparklingly salty American osetra. It’s an elegant dish – with lavish American caviar piled on gem-like Italian heirloom beets – that felt delightfully on-message in the elegant new venue for Chef Lewis’s Italy-invoking, locally-sourced cuisine.
Coming up next at Eater: pastas and mains at the Farmhouse, and Westchester welcomes a new heavyweight in the Kompetitive world of Killer Kocktails.