The County’s Swankiest Storefront
Dinner at the Barn offers the first taste of the Bedford Post
Westchester food writers have a dilemma. The Bedford Post, owned by actor Richard Gere and Pound Ridge native Russell Hernandez, is a huge event in opening-starved Westchester. Originally projected for mid-summer, the opening of the Restaurant at Bedford Post, the complex’s top-tier restaurant, has been delayed by ongoing construction and won’t open until fall. In the interim, Chef Brian Lewis is serving an ambitious, $75 prix-fixe menu in the Barn, a casual space designed for the café/bakery. Though dinner at the Barn is served in a tiny storefront, trend-conscious foodies are clamoring for tables.
The dilemma? Should publications commit to a review before the Restaurant at Bedford Post is officially open? Or, should we wait until the long-delayed construction is finished, and after all of Westchester’s foodies have already dined at the Barn—and Bedford Post is no longer newsworthy? Usually, reviews are published two or three months after a restaurant opens. After long debate, Westchester Magazine decided to review dinner at the Barn.
The Barn is cute in a Restoration Hardware sort of way, very casual with a tile floor, un-clothed tables, and a counter/bakery/deli case on one flank. This no-fuss décor, matched with an expensive menu, creates a comic inability for the Barn’s diners to gauge appropriate dinner dress. We saw patrons in elegant evening attire, and others in cargo shorts and Crocs. The space has a casual noise level, too. Lacking any noise-absorbing fabric or carpet, the Barn is very loud; although the room seats only 50, when it is filled, tablemates struggle to hear.
Our first bite at the Barn was confusing. Though Bedford Post has no website, Chef Lewis has echoed the tenets of Slow Food International in the press. This Italian-born movement was spawned to counter the spread of fast food, and promotes locally raised, seasonal produce among a host of other noble philosophies. We were surprised, then, to be greeted at the Barn with unripe, distance-raised California Black Mission figs in mid-June, served under a brûléed sugar crust. The menu is stocked with numerous other California and Arizona products. (Chef Lewis was born in Westchester, but came to prominence in California and Scottsdale, Arizona.) Putting origins aside, we greatly enjoyed a different amuse bouche of Crenshaw melon soup, whose cloying sugar was tamed—and spice highlighted—by crisp prosecco and tart lime juice. Deceptively simple, this soup displayed Lewis’s sophisticated sense of balance.
On each of our visits, the Barn’s first course offered a choice of salad or raw fish. Lewis’s Japanese hamachi made us crave more. The precious few slices of silken fish were happily paired with floral and briny preserved lemon, peppery espelette oil, and sweet/tart, mustard-seed-laden pickled ramps. Less stellar was an otherwise tasty salad of heirloom tomatoes with a single bocconcino (small nuggets of tangy, California-sourced Bubalus Bubalis mozzarella). Besides over-prominent preserved lemon, the boutique mozzarella was sadly chilly, and the dish arrived with an icy quenelle of olive oil sorbet that was jarring when eaten with the delicious, room-temperature tomatoes.
Lewis’s second course trio of ravioli was showoffy in the best way. One pocket contained fluffy sheep’s milk ricotta, another a liquid egg yolk, while the third held a savory spinach filling. A slice across all three pockets made the perfect single bite, with the still-oozing yolk forming a luscious sauce. Less elaborate, but still tasty, was a dish of hand-rolled garganelli with grassy fava beans and the surprising, fishy funkiness of bottarga (cured fish roe). On another night, the garganelli came with smoky Oregon porcini, wild asparagus, and soulful house-cured Italian bacon.
On the nights of our visits, mains were thoughtfully offered in meat, fish, and vegetarian options—this is a fine restaurant to accommodate that pesky vegetarian in your group. Our duo of Painted Hills beef was aimed at the staunch carnivore, arriving as a buttery filet of beef wrapped in a robustly porky shell of salty, crisp, locally cured John Boy Farm bacon. The filet was contrasted with falling-apart, very beefy braised short ribs, and the most flavorful, forest-in-a-bite morels we’ve had all year. Also for meat lovers, we liked a trio of Berkshire pork—crisp cured jowl, pancetta-wrapped loin, and lusciously rich glazed belly that melted in our mouths. Only one main in six was seriously flawed. An otherwise perfect square of Long Island striped bass with babi beans and la ratte potatoes was marred by the heartbreak of tough, rubbery medallions of octopus. If only they’d been left off the plate.
Desserts are not the Barn’s strongest point. A watery-tasting espresso granita contained some large chunks of ice, while its accompanying mousse had none of the advertised cardamom notes. We preferred a mid-June strawberry shortcake with rhubarb sorbet and balsamic vinegar—but again, these were predictable flavors. Cheese plates are offered, and we enjoyed a ripe Robiola and salty Gorgonzola paired with membrillo quince paste. Sadly, the serving (two half-bite triangles of cheese) was skimpy.
Service at the Barn is earnest, if not always suave. One overenthusiastic waiter volunteered a dramatic reading of the menu when we asked a single question. Diners should also be aware that the Barn offers only two dinner seatings (6:30 or 8:30), holds no full bar, and only a limited—though certainly well-edited—wine list. Though there were a few jarring lows, made worse by the element of surprise, there were many, many more exhilarating highs, and we’ll be visiting the Barn again very soon.
954 Old Post Rd, Bedford Village
Breakfast Mon to Fri 8 am–10:30 am; lunch Mon to Fri 11:30 am – 2:30 pm; dinner Thurs to Sat 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm seatings; brunch Sat and Sun 8 am–3 pm; bakery every day 6:30 am 4 pm. Prix-fixe dinner $75 per person.
The look is casual at the new Barn at the Bedford Post but the food is anything but.
★★★★—Outstanding ★★★—Very Good