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.