Monday, December 16, 2013

Milk & Honey (Ditmas Park)

Milk & Honey is a wonderful and desperately needed cafe in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. I am always on the look out for new places around here since I live so close, but besides for the few staple spots on Cortelyou Road, it's been slim pickings. 

Milk & Honey opened a few months back on the quiet corner of Newkirk and Westminster Road, and is owned and run by Max, of Qathra on Cortelyou. 

There are a couple of good things going for M & H.

  1. Free Wi-Fi and a bunch of outlets
  2. Good, cheap coffee from Counter Culture
  3. $5 pretty decent breakfast sandwiches 
  4. Homemade yummy pastries

The space is open, airy, and beautiful, definitely the nicest vibe in the neighborhood. Besides for the uncomfortable metal stools (mostly backless), you can station yourself here and just chill out, have a cup of joe, do some work on your laptop, or catch up with friends. They have a decent selection of eggs, flatbreads, sandwiches and salads and although the food is not mind blowing, it it not terrible either. I've had the egyptian poached eggs, smoked salmon eggs benny as well as a few of the flatbreads, all of which have been satisfying and keep me coming back. The pastries are delicious, as is their coffee. 

This is no destination location, but if you live nearby, it is definitely worth checking out. 

Neighborhood: Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Cuisine: Coffeehouse / Cafe

Bite Mark: ***

Good For: Breakfast / Brunch, Neighborhood Joint, Cheap Eats, Free Wi-Fi 

Milk & Honey, 1119 Newkirk Avenue 718-513-0441

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns might very well be my most memorable food experience of all time. It is top notch, unique, and unlike anything else out there. Forget Per Se and Eleven Madison and imagine for a moment the formality of a fine dining establishment coupled with the casual, rustic vibe of a farm. This is the place to bring foodies. And your nutritionist best friend. And your grandmother. Barns is for anyone who can appreciate good, fresh, delicious food. It is close to a perfect meal, and definitely one of the best I've ever had. From the knowledgable waitstaff, beautiful dining room, elegantly presented food, to the incredible flavors, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is gourmet heaven.

First off, the basics. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is located in Pocantico Hills, NY 30 miles or about a 45 minute drive North from NYC. The restaurant opened in 2004 within the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. Dan Barber (also of Blue Hill in NYC), is the executive chef who's mission is to "create a consciousness about the effect of everyday food choices" ( A meal here is not so much a meal as it is an experience. There are no menus. Most everything served is sourced on the surrounding fields and pastures, as well as local farms along the Hudson Valley. Expect to find a multi course feast of small plates for your palate using only the best ever-changing ingredients based on the current harvest.

 Tips to have the ultimate BH @ SB experience:
  • Go early and walk around. The ambiance of the farm and the restaurant itself, is so special and unique. Take it all in. If you arrive once it is already dark, you miss out on a lot. Also, this is not a quick meal so unless you are okay with sitting until 2AM, an early reservation is recommended.
  • Do the Pecking, Grazing, and Rooting option. It's a little more pricey ($208 a head!) but well worth it. Although there are about 20 courses that come, this is not one of those places that wait 20 minutes between bites leaving you restless and exhausted by the time your meal is over. Food just keeps coming. You came all the way here and are prepared to bounce (big time) so go for it, sit back relax and don't forget to breathe.
  • Wine Pairing is recommended. I had to be rolled out of here, but it truly was an exceptional night. From bubbly, to whites, an ale or two, to some deep rich reds, the wines were all delicious and paired beautifully with the meal. I will say the wines of white-heavy so if you are more of a reds kind of guy, you may be better off order a nice bottle or two and pass on the pairing. 
  • There are no formal menus and the offerings change on a daily if not hourly basis based on what is fresh and in season. Every time you come it is a completely new and different experience. 
  • We were lucky enough to have one of our courses INSIDE of Dan Barber's kitchen. Watching the culinary magic first hand felt close to a holy experience. 
  • Be prepared for tiny bites, often consumed sans utensils in unique and fun ways. Keep an open mind. Carving off your own brussel sprouts and snipping pea pods is part of the fun.
  • Take a deep breathe, make yourself comfortable, and enjoy this experience. 
I won't get into too many food details as the rewas at least 20 courses and as I mentioned it is constantly changing.  I honestly couldn't keep track of everything we ate, but I will say it was definitely vegetable heavy and a lot of fun surprises. Beet hamburgers, crunchy kale, baby vegetables to just name a few. Tomato tartare with a quail egg, delicious homemade ricotta with fresh baked bread, delectable pasta, I could go on and on….

Ultimately, if you care enough about food to be reading this blog, this is a must try place. It is worth the shlep, and worth the hefty price tag.  I know I'm starting to sound repetitive but BH @ SB is epic, definitely an experience you will not easily forget. 

Neighborhood: Pocantico Hills, NY 

Cuisine: American

Bite Mark: *****

Good For: Foodies, Special Occasion

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, 630 Bedford Road. MetroNorth train to Tarrytown then a 10 minute cab ride, or 45 minute drive from NYC.