Blue Hill Stone Barns' Bar no longer offering three course bar menu (Pocantico Hills, NY)

So my husband and I used to enjoy going to the bar at BHSB every so often and having their three course bar menu (most recently priced at $58, I think) which included many amuse bouches and extra little desserts. Especially on a weeknight at opening time you’d have a good chance of nabbing a seat and enjoying a less expensive, briefer BHSB menu. I know opinions on the restaurant are all over the place but for the price there was little for me to find fault with.

This June my husband wanted to go for his birthday so I went online to check the hours and I noted the following on their website:

At the bar
A tasting menu is available at the bar for $188. Seats at the counter can be reserved on our website up to 2 days in advance.
Please check availability online, as we no longer set aside seats for walk-ins.

So there goes one of the best kept secrets in Westchester, where locals could sidle up last minute to the bar of one of the country’s best restaurants and enjoy a meal for a fraction of the regular cost. I guess it was only a matter of time and from a business sense it completely makes sense-- if people are willing to pay $188 to reserve a seat at a bar and eat, why have a cheaper walk-in option?

I probably will never go again but I’m glad I got to experience it while it lasted!

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Spectacular price increase!

Well, they always offered the full menu at the bar, in addition to the abbreviated bar menu.

That is a huge bummer - I’m sorry we missed it.

Saddened but not at all shocked by this.

I’m surprised it took them this long to figure out
they were offering something that wasn’t exclusionary
to only the very well off.
From personal experience I have always found them to
be inflexible tight wads.

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Thanks Ice Cream. I admit, though, that I never was a fan of BHSB, though now I remember your posting about the bar and I considered that. But I find them hugely overpriced and not that great. But you do know all the secrets!!

You’re right, chowdom, it doesn’t come as a shock. I used to consider it a kind of secret perk for living in the area, being able to drop in with no reservation. We only were turned away one time and that was because we arrived a bit late. I can’t imagine too many folks came from long distances to try their luck dropping in at the bar. But their prerogative surely isn’t extending goodwill to Westchester natives not willing or able to pay full price and they finally realized they could monetize the hell out of those bar seats.

If I’m going to pay $188 for a single meal (which I have never in my life thus far) it sure won’t be sitting at bar seats!

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Honestly, I can’t stand them as a business. They do some shady hiring practices. Offer a person a position and then tell the males they have to cut off all facial hair (not beard; short, neat, mustache), short haircut, etc. Hire for one position, then do a bait and switch and place the person in a lesser position both skill wise and money wise, and different schedule than what was offered up front.

That does sound shady, JMF.

I remember the reviews of those meals you posted and always looked forward to reading them.
I’m glad that you were savvy enough to have taken advantage, if even for a limited time.
They seem to be taking a page from the Stone Barns playbook … with this latest move
I am kind of perseverating but I’m really pissed off on your behalf

Stone Barns used to have a farmers market on Fridays, not sure it they still do. They closed the market off to the general public for the first few hours after opening, because members complained. In spite of their asshattery I still like to pick up honey at the farm store, and the almost savory butternut squash yogurt from the café. I just don’t do it too often because there is always some kind of drama happening … often in multiple locations

The honey vendor at the Pleasantville market has incredible honey of all types. If you’d rather spend your money elsewhere they are well deserving!

http://hudsonriverapiaries.com/

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I agree … icecream

currently in my pantry
1 jar stone barns
1 jar HRA Buckwheat
1 jar HRA Blueberry
1 jar white oak farm

I have enjoyed the full monty at Stone Barnes but only in different seasons. I could never see having dinner there on a regular basis, as lovely as the place is. We have been sitting on a gift card for quite a while because we cannot seem to get a date that works for us. Frustrating…

I asked a staffer why they got rid of it (we live nearby and took advantage of it a few times; thought it was a great deal and used to enjoy chatting with the staff while we ate; much less of a high wire act than the regular menu).

He said it was causing trouble. As soon as the weather started to warm up people started lining up outside the front door at five pm to try to nab one of the bar seats when they unlocked it. If they failed they’d hover in the bar area staring at the diners and getting angrier and angrier while they waited for someone to leave. Of course I’m sure the opportunity to make more money and not have to wonder if all the seats would fill played into the decisions as well – but I think he was being honest, the place is just becoming more and more a victim of its own success. At weekends the whole place is a mob scene.

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Rupert, thanks for the information! That makes a lot of sense. The time we went that we couldn’t get seats, there were people waiting with drinks in the waiting area for the first seating at the bar to finish so they could eat at the bar, however many hours later that would be. So I could see them then not having room for diners with reservations to have a pre-dinner drink.

Oh well, it was great while it lasted, and I have great memories of those meals.

What other restaurants do you like in Westchester?

I emailed them on Friday and it turns out they’ve now completely stopped serving food at the bar, not even for $188 or $260 or anything.

Other places we’ve had good luck at in the area:

Mint (Tarrytown)
Tarry Tavern (Tarrytown)
Twisted Oak (Tarrytown)
X2O (Yonkers)
Bedford Post Inn (haven’t been there in ages, good place for a romantic weekend)
La Panetiere (Rye)

I’d love to hear about Tarry Tavern. I’ve never been there but always wondered. We went to Twisted Oak a lot when it first opened but the lack of a menu was a bit of a turn-off for us. How has it been recently?

Would you consider starting a thread or two about some of these places you like? I’m sure others would love to read about them too.

We went there a few years ago before a show at the Music Hall and were not impressed at all. As I recall, bad service and mediocre food. Sorry, my memory has wiped out the rest!!

[quote=“ieatalotoficecream, post:17, topic:6220”]
I’d love to hear about Tarry Tavern. I’ve never been there but always wondered. We went to Twisted Oak a lot when it first opened but the lack of a menu was a bit of a turn-off for us. How has it been recently?[/quote]
We ate at Tarry Tavern for HVRW when they first opened. We really enjoyed the meal and I sent a co-worker (also during RW). They were never given the restaurant week menu and ended up paying regular price. She called to complain (after I told her that they should have offered it to her) and they told her she had to ask for it. That and the lack of posted menus stopped me from having any interest in going back.

We had a good RW meal at Twisted Oak shortly after they opened but service was terrible. They don’t post their menus, either.

The thing about Twisted Oak, other than the lack of a posted menu (even a sample menu to give you an idea of prices), is that we found the portion sizes went down considerably after the first few months. We really liked it but the prices were getting prohibitive for a place that just frankly isn’t that nice inside. It became a special occasion priced meal in a place that just felt like any other generic neighborhood restaurant.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold