238 West 12th St
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 243-7073
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Chef: Justin Hilbert
2nd Cuisine: Contemporary
Area: West Village
As farm-to-table as it gets, Blenheim, in the West Village, is owned by Morten Sohlberg and Min Ye and helmed by chef Ryan Tate, a veteran of the now-defunct Savoy and Le Restaurant. The restaurant takes its name from the owners' 150 acre farm in the Catskills. Accordingly, the menu points out that fare changes daily based on seasonality and what is available as almost everything, from meat to butter to many bar ingredients, is sourced from the farm.
The smallish space is neatly sided in vertical wooden strips, a nod to the Smorgas catering and restaurant group it's part of. At the rear is a private dining room called the Tool Shed that seats ten. Here, the rear wall is hung with farm tools while the hanging lamps were made from old milk jugs found in the forest near the farm. Up front, style starts with the attractive currant-and-white striped napkins that are set off by an in- the -front-window banquette, also in currant with gray seating.
The cocktail menu offers well-made standards like the Negroni, proffered straight up in an old-fashioned coupe, and a Manhattan with "house made" orange bitters as well as non-alcoholic drinks such as fresh ginger ale and a drink based on lovage, not a typical bar item and, per my dining companion, delicious and refreshing.
There are two tasting menus--a four-course option at $65 with an optional $40 wine pairing and a seven-course offering at $95 with a $60 wine pairing. Food is also available a la carte from a menu that is well thought- through and not overpoweringly large.
The four courses of my tasting were exquisitely plated and even though individual dishes weren't large, it was a more than ample amount of food unless you're Paul Bunyan. Am amuse bouche, in my case, a small cup of melon soup spiked with chili, mint oil and other flavors, preceded dinner as did the bread service. One offering was a crisp that looked like seeds held together by plastic wrap but is actually potato starch. The rabbit, served as part of our tasting, included a garnish of stinging nettle, not your everyday item.
In keeping with the farm motif, fresh silverware is delivered via a tin pan, by very deft and professional servers.
My only issue with Blenheim is that many dishes combine too many disparate flavors. For instance, the dessert of chocolate ganache is delicious but the accompanying puddle of green, wild mint "sorbet" didn't complement the chocolate while the picture-worthy, multi-colored roasted beets were plated with two nubbins of black currant bavaroise that looked like tiny pink tootsie rolls and did nothing to enhance the dish either visually or taste-wise.
The restaurant, that opened in May, attracts locals as well as serious eaters who admire the farm-to-table concept and probably love the low noise level. Blenheim, which has high end attitude is really pleasantly informal and serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
Review By: Mari Gold