First Taste: The Farmhouse at Bedford Post

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The Farmhouse at Bedford Post — the restaurant owned by the actor Richard Gere and Russell Hernandez of Pound Ridge — opened this month, and in a few short weeks, it’s already earning its place as one of the best restaurants in Westchester.

Chef Brian Lewis — a Northern Westchester native who cooked at Oceana in Manhattan and worked in San Francisco and Phoenix — has had a while to work on his menu. The Barn at Bedford Post — the Bedford Post Inn’s cafe and bakery — has been open for nearly a year, and a couple of the dishes on that menu have made their way over to the main dining room, too.

The building is framed around a 300-year-old oak tree, which is uplit dramatically and is visible from the dining room. After valeting your car, you walk alongside the cafe, then under a pergola and past the yoga studio along a bluestone path to the dining room.

You’re greeted by the host in the foyer, and you could walk through to the bar, except it’s not yet finished. There are no stools; just a couple tables by the fireplace.

The dining room itself has a farmhouse feel, but one that’s modern and eclectic. Soft beige walls and fieldstone fireplaces keep company with a contemporary glass-topped sideboard and chairs with spindle backs and cane seats. It was very dark so you’ll please excuse the quality of the photos here:

The cocktail menu is among the most creative I’ve seen in Westchester. This pear drink was made with gin, fresh pear nectar and pastis. It wasn’t too sweet, too thick or too licoric-y; but perfectly balanced and a lovely starter to the evening.

My one complaint: the sticker was still on the fruit. For a chef who touts the heritage of the ingredients on the menu, that was disappointing. We tried a riff on a Manhattan and a Bellini, too, and both were terrific. Our amiable server, Dan, said the staff is working on a drink called the Woodsman that has so much juniper it tastes like pine. It sounded great.

We started with an amuse bouche of cauliflower puree that was drizzled with almond oil.

Earthy and smooth as silk.

The menu is quite short and with four at our table we were able to work our way through most of it.

Meyer Lemon Glazed Red King Crab
curried caluliflower, sorrel, gremolat
$17

Sweet crab with hints of vanilla. The crabcake on the side was crunchy and full of crab.

Chioggia Beet Salad
american osetra caviar, horseradish yogurt, mandarin
$15

My husband finished the croquette before I could get a taste but he said it was so delicate it fell apart if you looked at it too hard. The beets were perfectly cooked and a delight in my mouth.

Cabbage Hill Lettuces
dill-banyuls vinaigrette, marcona almonds
$9

You can tell these were happy lettuces. The liked the cold. And they were so daintily dressed yet so packed with flavor. Little flakes of salt melted on your tongue.

Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Leaves
goat’s cheese, medjool dates, ice wine vinaigrette
$15

Y’all know the book, right? What a clever name for a dish. This was unbelieveable. Fennel, beets, carrots and other root vegetables. Sharp and bitter with the first few bites, then as your fork brought the goat cheese, dates and dressing up from the bottom of the plate to mix with the vegetables, the dish becamed tempered with fresh, grassy, sweet notes. Loved this dish.

The pastas had something in common with the lettuce dish: they were delicate but full of robust flavors.

Hand-cut Pappardelle
wild mushrooms, pecorino romano
$17

All that you want out of a long-noodled pasta: the sauce was slippery, the mushrooms were meaty and the cheese was rich.

Soft Farm Egg Ravioli
sheep’s milk ricotta, spinach, sage crumbs
$15

This dish is now in my pantheon. On the left is a raviolo with ricotta. On the right is a raviolo with spinach. In the center is a raviolo with a soft-cooked egg. Yes, it runs when you cut the pasta. Mix them all together and you have one amazing combination of flavors and textures. The crunch of the breadcrumbs and the perfume of the sage are the icing on the cake.

Madeira Glazed Black Cod
celery root mousseline, porcini, watermelon radish
$29

Fresh, buttery and flaky. The radish brought some zing.

Tenderloin of Wagyu Beef
black trumpets, potato robiola fonduta, oxtail jus
$45

This was the best entree of the night. I normally don’t order tenderloin; I don’t think it has much flavor. Boy was I wrong on this one. The outside was crusted with chunks of salt and herbs and was crispy and dark but not charred. The inside was gorgeous: buttery and beefy. The potato was so utterly rich; it was made by folding a fondue-type melt of robiola into the cleanest puree of potato. And the reduction was incredible too. Four stars.

Trio of Berkshire Pork
pickled chanterelles, vanilla-scented quince, red swiss chard
$33

So sorry for the blur. And I toppled the terrine on the right before taking a picture. My apologies. So from left to right we have the belly, which was braised in agave nectar; the tenderloin, wrapped in pancetta; and the terrine, which was covered in corn nuts and deep fried. This should have been my favorite dish. I mean throw an egg on there and you have all my favorite things in the world. Unfortunately, the terrine was stringy and hard to eat and the tenderloin was dry, even though it was wrapped in pancetta (which was hard to cut through). The belly was unctuous and fatty. Very good. I just hoped for more from this dish, especially knowning that it comes from John Boy’s farm.

Atlantic Monkfish Roasted in Black Olive Oil
soft egg, chorizo, romesco crumbs, black olive oil
$35

If you went to an ordinary restaurant and ordered the Cabbage Hill lettuces and this monkfish, you’d walk away stunned. But the wow factor of the other dishes here brought a bit of a “what else?” feeling to this dish. It was perfectly good, just upstaged by its friends. The egg, though, was a fascinating blend of white and yolk set into a texture that was somehow a combination of both, but better. See it on the left, about 11 o’clock? Fantastic.

Desserts suffered the same fate. They were very tasty, but simple. I found this quite acceptable; I was ready for my taste buds to settle down. But some people might want more from chocolate.

Warm Bittersweet Chocolate Tart
passionfruit caramel and vanilla gelat
$9

Meyer Lemon Meringue Tart
wild huckleberry gelato
$9

The gelato was fabulous.

We ended with mignardises: a rich truffle and an etheral coconut ball:

Couple notes about the experience. Our waiter was very knowledgable, superfriendly and eager to please. He talked just as much as we wanted him to, and no more.

He asked “are you a blogger?” because of the camera and I had to admit I was. He posed for me.

But there were a few green moments. We waited an awfully long time for drinks and the check, yet pastas came almost as our appetizers were being cleared. Maybe the kitchen’s fault; maybe the servers. We wanted red wine with our pastas and – even though we’d already ordered it and it had been opened — we had to wait until we were almost finished with the dishes before it was poured. Speaking of wine, the wine list doesn’t have many inexpensive options. It was hard for me to find anything under $60.

And there were a few other rough-around-the-edges things: tiny quibbles that only a very experienced diner would take issue with: wine bottles touching the rim of the glass when poured (and little spills here and there); the valet not taking the claim check off the windshield or closing the door behind you. Really really nitpicky things that normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning — except that you can tell this restaurant is going for the gold.

And it’s nearly there. The Farmhouse at Bedford Post has only been open a few short weeks and it is almost running on all cylinders. Opening the property piecemeal has paid off for Gere and Hernandez — and for Lewis. It’s given everybody time to get comfortable making delicious, creative food. The restaurant is on my short list of destination restaurants and is worth the drive from just about anywhere.

PDFs of the menus:

The Farmhouse at Bedford Post Appetizers

The Farmhouse at Bedford Post Mains

The Farmhouse at Bedford Post Cheese

The Farmhouse at Bedford Post Desserts

The 411 on the Barn at Bedford Post (I’ll put up the link for the Farmhouse in a couple hours.)

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

10 Comments

  1. Mistyblueeyes1234 on

    Exactly what do you mean by the “best”? Best cuisine? I will take your word for it because when I ate there, you could barely find food on your plate, let alone taste. Look at the prices and look at the portions.

    I realize we have become a society of glutton size portions, but this is tilting too far the other way. Way too far.

    The portions are microscopic. You won’t ever leave here full, you won’t even fell like you ate anything after dropping $200 here, not counting the bar bill.

    The only place I know of that gives you less value for your dining dollar is 42.

  2. Excellent review. The photos and specific comments about each dish really help. Looking forward to some reviews about affordable places in Westchester … if there are any.

  3. **I understand the chef is sourcing out the best local ingredients possible but the portions look pretty small for the prices they’re charging

    **That tenderloin couldn’t have been cooked any more perfect…!

    **The Journal News should buy you a decent digital camera for xmas, Liz…!!!

  4. If you want a good low-light camera, try the FujiFilm ones. Big sensor chip for better light sensitivity. More important than megapixels, especially for photos that are only going to go on the web.

    (And, they’re US operations are based in Valhalla.)

  5. Thanks for the comments, all.

    Misty, I thought the portion sizes were just right. When I say best, I mean best destination. A place you’ll drive far for a fabulous meal and feel special while eating it. Did you like the food?

    John, Thanks. I’ll try to do more affordable places, too. I know I’m not the only one feeling the crunch. Here’s one from the other day: http://lizjohnson.lohudblogs.com/2008/12/09/pizza-at-the-iron-tomato-in-white-plains/
    Do you have any other suggestions?

    matteo, I think the portions were just right. You’re right on about the tenderloin. It was amazing. As for the camera, I don’t think any camera could have stood up to the low light situation. I sat down and looked at my husband and said: “I don’t know how these photos are going to come out in this light.” And he laughed and said: “What light?”

    And thanks for the suggestion, Richard! I’ll look into that. Though some of my photos appear in the paper, too, so we need size, too. Love the local connection!

  6. Today’s paper really gave you a lot of room. I am discovering you Liz Johnson. Thanks for letting us know what you look like. It helps. The Farmhoulse is a very high priced restaurant. No matter, if the portions are right. That’s the question. For a place like this we need a female and male opinion. An excellent review. My cousin is Frank Bruni of the New York Times. He doesn’t get up here but he knows NYC. Your review will get me running to get there, but my doubts about portions will temper my vigor because I don’t want to waste my time. I’ll make it one day.

  7. Kathy Hackmyer on

    Hi Liz,

    My husband treated me out to the Farmhouse Sunday night for my birthday dinner. It was a sublime night and a rare treat in every way possible.

    We got there a bit early and had time to wander a bit around the exterior of the Inn. The gardens were obviously thoughtfully planted (with their themes of purples, lavenders, lilacs & white plantings) and lovingly tended – nary a weed in sight. This was only the first indication of what was to great us inside the Inn.

    Thought, care and attention has been paid to every little detail inside. From the elegant and refined dark sage green wainscoting; to the crisp, clean, linen-toned upper walls; and the warm, dark wood doors; everything was designed to calm the senses and transport us to an oasis of tranquility and serenity.

    Our wait staff, lead by the affable and ever present by unobtrusive Dan (who expertly, and thankfully, steered us to the tasting menu) made us feel pampered, nurtured and like honored guests.

    Then we got to our meal – in a word, SUBLIME! Chef Brian Lewis’ menu was an absolute delight. Every single dish we tasted was a hit, some moving from wonderful into the transcended realm of heavenly.

    He is a true jewel in our Westchester midst! The artistry of his menu was sheer brilliance. Each ingredient married perfectly with each herb, flavoring, sauce. Flavors played off each other perfectly within dishes, or from dish to dish in our paired tastings.

    We have enjoyed many excellent meals in the past 5 years or so, from many of the better known chefs across the US. Chef Lewis ranks right up there, as far as we are concerned, with the best of them. If not even THE best!

    Our evening out was a truly phenomenal experience. We were treated like royalty, and I felt like a Queen on my birthday – thanks to the beautiful surroundings and thoughtful design of the Bedford Post Inn, AND to the staff and especially Chef Brian Lewis at the Farmhouse.

  8. Have never written a review….felt compelled after a disappointing evening. The place was beautiful and simple in it’s decor, the portions as stated were beyond small. The wine we ordered, a Sancerre was not available the next one I chosen was announced to not be chilled when they finally served it 20 minutes later it was still not sufficiently chilled. The service seemed green and uneducated. There was no sharing of what made the courses interesting or unique, they spoke in muttered tones. It was insulting to spend so much and get so little for it. We had the chef’s tasting menu…everything with the exception of the cheese course and dessert had not more than two bites. We will never return….a real disappointment..

  9. After waiting a year to try this restaurant and hoping that all kinks would be worked out our visit on Feburary 28, 2010, was a disappointment. We were in the company of two recent graduates of the Culinary Institute of American and boy were they unimpressed. Every dish was SALTY. The salt over powered all foods ordered, even the chocolate desserts. Yes, the portions are on the small size for the price but if they were prepared well with good taste then one would accept the size. We were a party of 8 each trying different items on the menu from the salad, pastas, waygu beef and shortribs, to the lobster, cod and pork dishes and each was overly salted…thats all you tasted. The beef especially the short ribs were fatty and that was all you tasted. The tenderloin so rare that it ould walk off the plate. In addition most items came out room temperature not hot. What a disappointment. The only decent items were the carmalized cheese sticks and the cheese balls given as you sat down at the table. As for the front of house, the wait staff started off well but once our order was taken they disappeared never to be scene again. We had to search for our waiter to order dessert. It would be one thing if the restaurant was filled but there were a number of empty tables. The restaurant could have potential. A major overhaul needs to be done to the food preparation. Lighten up on the use of salt!!! The decor and ambiance is lovely.

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