Restaurant Review: Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, NY
Bedford Post’s real star is its chef
An elegant interior does justice to the food.
Pop quiz: what is the name of J. Lo’s restaurant, and, for extra credit, what is the name of its chef? Anybody? Nobody? Okay. How about Britney Spears’s restaurant: name its chef and tell me whether its food is any good. Thought so. And, by the way, both of those restaurants are now closed.
The problem with star-owned restaurants is that pop-culture fame doesn’t transfer to restaurant quality, because the diner that visits a restaurant to see a star often doesn’t care what appears on his plate. All the star-seeker wants to see is the A-lister chewing or—I don’t know—visiting the bathroom. If the star’s not in the house (and usually he isn’t), then all that’s left is the food. And, no matter how delicious, it’ll be a disappointment.
Bedford Post—the swank resort complex that includes a restaurant (the Farmhouse), a café (the Barn), an eight-room hotel, and a yoga studio—is owned by Bedford residents: actor Richard Gere; his wife, model/actress Carey Lowell; and real estate developer Russell Hernandez. Whenever I visit the rustic, paneling-and-Windsor-chair Farmhouse, there is an audible buzz about whether Gere will visit. I find it regrettable that, for some of Bedford Post’s customers, Gere’s star outshines the elegance of Chef Jeremy McMillan’s food.
Recently, I was struck by McMillan’s artistry in a dish of wildly flavorful, lightly acidic plums that were paired with barely-coherent mozzarella and crunchy pistachios. This was one of the most exquisite plates of food that I could remember eating anywhere. Similarly stunning was a starter of silken, raw sardine fillets. Grapefruit, fennel curls, and cilantro finessed the gray, oily fish with salted citrus and licorice crunch. And sheer veils of cobia with tart green tomatoes arrived laced with ribbons of olive oil dripped, no doubt, from tiny, very costly bottles. This menu is not impoverished for sexy choices…though, be warned: dining here might leave you impoverished. Servings at Bedford Post Farmhouse run small—and the prices run high.
When we ordered a $36 pork chop, our waiter volunteered that the chop’s partners of oven-dried figs, Calabrian chilis, and eucalyptus honey were “more like a garnish.” He strongly advised us to also order from the menu of $6 and $7 sides: a nickel-and-dime upsell that doesn’t belong in this elegant restaurant. A $21 pasta dish of fagottelli di La Pergola (waiters warn diners not to substitute pasta courses for mains—turns out, wisely) yielded only five bites. Admittedly, the dainty, egg-filled ravioli were garnished with truffles, but at $4.20 per mouthful, we grudged their expense. Finally, the charm of a playing-card-sized, $39 strip loin, served with bone marrow and swipe of sparkling gremolata, was seriously dinged when we realized that the recommended side of grill-crisped potatoes left the main costing $45.
As evidenced by tableside upselling, Bedford Post’s staff can be less than suave. Imagine sitting under the spell of a starry summer evening on Bedford Post’s lush patio as it is perfumed by the irresistible scent of game birds and fish roasting over wood. One waiter absentmindedly kicks over a candle—understandable, these things happen—but then two staffers proceed to argue over the event within full view (and earshot) of diners.
Exquisite plating of plums paired with mozzarella and pistachios.
Sadly, by the time that this review appears, Chef McMillan will have packed up his wood-fueled outdoor kitchen for the winter. The stone-and-steel behemoth (designed by McMillan and Hernandez) was inspired by an iconic Basque restaurant, Asador Etxebarri, which does all of its cooking outdoors. In Bedford—backed by a field that, in spring, twinkles with fireflies—McMillan cranks out some of the county’s most sublime food. Look for skinny asparagus spears (plated with pecorino, parsley, and crumbled egg), whose grassy flavor is haunted by wood smoke. Or wood-roasted quails served with fat, grill-striped green figs dressed in full-bodied olive oil. Spending an evening outside surrounded by the aroma of cooking, perhaps eating a whole branzino whose salty skin still crackles from the fire, provides the kind of intense sensual pleasure that grabs your primitive brain and won’t let go.
Bedford Post’s wine list is not long and will appeal to the well-heeled residents of this horsey suburb. But even with our skinnier wallets, we found an excellent, $17 Domaine Pastou sauvignon blanc by the glass. For dessert, we loved a warm strawberry shortcake whose sponge bore a buttery, crisped shell. The strawberries were still, miraculously, available in September (and were still, miraculously, good).
It was only just now that I realized that, since it opened, I’ve dined at the Farmhouse six or seven times. During those visits, I have never once spotted Gere in the house—but, given what was on my plate, I’ve never really cared.
The Farmhouse at Bedford Post ★★★★
954 Old Post Rd, Bedford
(914) 234-7800; bedfordpostinn.com
Hours: Wed to Sat, 5:30–10 pm; Sun, 5:30–9 pm
Appetizers: $11–$20; pasta: $17–$25; entrées: $27–$39; sides: $6-$7; desserts: $8
★★★★—Outstanding ★★★—Very Good