by Jennifer Brizzi – Henry’s at the Farm features food grown on its grounds at the Buttermilk Falls Inn in Milton
At Henry’s at the Farm, the setting soothes you well before the comestibles please your palate. At this restaurant, on the grounds of Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa in Milton, an enchanting scene of bucolic tranquility draws you into another world, with its grazing and frolicking creatures (the inn is home to many rescue animals), orchards, pristinely restored historic structures, rolling hills, ponds and enticing nooks and crannies.
In the kitchen, ingredients are sourced from the land around it, 40-acre Millstone Farm, or nearby farms and purveyors. Owner Bob Pollock is not fanatical about the locavore thing – “I get my truffles from Italy,” he says – but he and executive chef Chad Greer like to serve food and drinks made from ingredients that haven’t traveled very far.
I was happy to be invited to taste some of Henry’s offerings. The restaurant has been open about a year (it was originally Henry’s Farm to Table), and like many eateries has gone through a couple of chefs. For the last two months Chad Greer has been at the helm, and the former owner of the popular Beso in New Paltz knows how to combine flavors and textures and coax the most flavor out of every morsel.
The restaurant is upstairs, with large many-paned windows that pull in the farm psychologically even before the farm’s bounty feeds you. Lovely, tranquil views make the relaxation and delight kick in right away. The dining room has a cozy, clubby vibe, with banquettes and warm tones like warm browns and deep reds, and stags on the wallpaper. I love the high ceilings with huge glass jugs suspended as light fixtures.
All the service was friendly, unpretentious and just the right amount of attentive, especially from waiter Rich, who didn’t know that I’d been invited as the restaurant’s guest, but was wonderful anyway. He started with offering tastes of a couple of cocktail specials: a blackberry mojito chunky with pulpy berries from the farm and lots of fresh mint and an imaginative, tasty gin concoction, infused with Tahitian vanilla bean and shiro plum from the farm and a hint of tonic. Pollock serves many beers and spirits from local breweries and distilleries, but admits to importing some good wines from overseas. “We serve good wines from all over,” he says.
Next to come was a towering play in textures and tastes: crispy, thin strips of calamari mixed with red cabbage slivers and cilantro atop a bed of rich roasted chipotle ragout with lime wedges on the side ($13). Other appetizers include a quail salad with peach ($12) and a goat cheese and caramelized onion tart ($13).
Next came generous bowls of a fine, tangy gazpacho: creamy, smooth and rich. There’s little more refreshing than this sort of liquid salad on a summer’s day. This was topped with crème fraîche, fried tortilla strips and cilantro. I also was able to taste some sweet diver scallops, caramelized nicely, over a bed of black bean succotash made with local corn and sweet cherry tomatoes with lime crema.
Most memorable for me, though, was another off-the-menu special: a huge, swoonworthy filet mignon, grass-fed and grain-finished, from a Hereford from the Hudson Valley. The succulent, tender meat was dusted with powdered black trumpets before searing, Chef Greer told me later. It was topped with a luscious mousseline of exotic mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, Cremini and maybe king oyster). This sauce was enriched with shallots, rosemary and brandy, Chef reported. Asparagus and buttery roasted yellow Carola mushrooms were on the side. As a fan of mushrooms and naturally raised beef, I found the whole dish sublime. A glass of Argentinean Malbec, Trivento, was smooth and upheld the beef well.
A special of house-made tagliatelle with poached lobster sounded lovely too. Next time…
The menu that day also offered blackened tofu ($19), braised half-chicken ($24), hangar steak au poivre ($29) and burgers ($15), as well as assortments of pastas ($19 to $20), pizzas ($15 to $16) and salads ($7 to $9).
A sock-rocking dessert followed shortly thereafter: an intense chocolate pot de crème, a velvety study in textural contrasts with crunchy candied almonds, dusted with coconut and dolloped with whipped cream with chocolate shavings. I also tasted a seasonal fruit crisp offering peaches and blueberries from the farm stewed to succulence under buttery crumbs, with tangy house-made buttermilk ice cream on the side. Desserts range from $8 to $9. The pastry chef is Chef Greer’s wife, Tammy Ogletree.
These days there seems to be no dearth of places that offer dishes made with local ingredients, but not every one offers food of such quality that is so creatively and artfully executed and pleasing to the senses. What doesn’t come from the farm comes from nearby Hepworth Farms, also in Milton: an organic seventh-generation family farm. Gadaleto’s Seafood in New Paltz provides the fish, which Greer likes because it brings it fresh every day. “A couple days a week is not enough,” he says.
All meat on the menu was raised in Ulster County, Pollock says. All chopped meat is made on the premises, so they know exactly what goes into it. Grains for some of the baked goods come from Lightning Tree Farm in Millbrook. The restaurant has a mill to grind its own grain and is working toward doing all its baked goods and breads from scratch. “Everything here that we grow is used in the kitchen,” says Pollock, clearly pleased that Chef Greer makes an effort to use the seasonal bounty of the farm, rather than cooking to a set menu as some chefs might.
Go and wander, visit the llamas and alpacas, the peacocks and poultry (layers of organic eggs). Look at bright fruit in an orchard that may well grace your cocktail or dessert. Go upstairs and relax and enjoy some of the best of the Hudson Valley’s local seasonal fare.
Henry’s at the Farm is a short skip off Route 9W, located at 220 North Road in Milton. Hours for dinner are Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 5 p.m., ending at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch is served on Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and brunch on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For reservations, call (845) 795-1500. For more information, visit www.henrysatbuttermilk.com.