BLENHEIM RESTAURANT: PASTURE TO PLATE
BLENHEIM RESTAURANT: PASTURE TO PLATE
HARVESTED IN THE CATSKILLS, SERVED IN THE WEST VILLAGE
Blenheim Restaurant owners Morten Sohlberg and Min Ye, an accomplished husband and wife duo, merely intended to create a neighborhood staple, but wound up with a highly sought-after Michelin Recommendation, ushering their team into a rare class of pre-trend innovation. The intimate nook in Manhattan's West Village sits at the intersection of two tree-lined, cobblestone streets: a romantic throwback to the days when the Chase Banks and Walgreens of the world had less of an imposing presence.
In 2010, on the coattails of the success of their Smörgås Chef cafés, the couple purchased Blenheim Hill Farm in the Catskills, NY: an estate dating back to the Peaslee family in the 1700s. The land had remained dormant since the late 1970s, so when Sohlberg and Ye took ownership, they preserved the historic architecture of the residence and began their wistful horticulture revitalization.
Today, Blenheim Hill Farm grows all of the restaurant's own seasonal greens; it also boasts honey from its own honey bees, maple syrup from its own tree harvests, bright-yellow-yolked eggs from its guinea hens, Hereford and black Angus beef, a handful of heritage hog breeds (even the unique Mangalitsa pig), and the distinctly flavored, Icelandic lamb. All of the farm's animals graze off of the lush, 150-acre terrain where foraged menu items are also sourced. When your meat eats foliage as high-caliber as you, you know it's going to be a good cut.
A Norwegian native, Morten Sohlberg wanted to bring Scandinavian influence to both his farming and his cuisine. That mission unfolded as pure and uncomplicated, letting intrinsic ecosystems be the primary leads. Norway's cultural essence of mindful observance has been eloquently streamlined to each dish served out of the couple's kitchen, resulting in idyllic techniques and ambrosial flavors.
Sohlberg is also a carpenter with a background in design. He graduated from both Nesbru Skole in Oslo and the Istituto per L’Arte in Florence. Together the pair designed the restaurant, which, in an industry rife with a white-washed-brick onslaught, brought the rustic tenor from their farm to the West Village. Quite literally.
Lighting fixtures that hang in the private dining area (facetiously dubbed 'The Tool Shed') were made of galvanized metal milk jugs from the previous 18th-century owners. Bullet holes litter their circumference, because the jugs were once used for target practice. Unbeknownst to the shooters, they'd be reused and loved for that very reason. The dining room's furniture was handcrafted by the proprietor himself and antique field tools have been integrated into the restaurant's decor.
Service at Blenheim is extraordinary. The added bonus of being open during the day meant we were able to stop in to dine more than once without a reservation–and before a crowd filled the 45 seat joint. Authentically passionate about the novelty of serving up plates sourced entirely from their own pastures at the base of the Catskills Mountains, our servers were each professional yet affable (a treat when genuine curiosity over sourcing methods strikes).
Despite the dining room's many years as an integral component of the West Village, Blenheim's head chefs have rotated enough to be less of a fixture and more of a celebrated enhancement. Currently, the notable Jordan Anderson is at the helm as Blenheim's Chef De Cuisine, yet each before him have brought their own unique prowess to the "grow-to-order" philosophy behind this outstanding New York restaurant.
This article originally appeared in HAZEL NOIX on November 30th, 2017.