Guest Author - Jennifer Moore Stahlkrantz
Imagine for a moment that on a cool fall day, you grab your yoga bag, and take your horse, Pretty Woman, for a ride to a nearby restored barn where you tie the mare to a hitching post, enter the barn to slip into your exercise attire, stretch your way through a yoga class, and skip downstairs to the café for lunch. Meanwhile, someone looks after Pretty Woman. Water for her. Wine for you.
This scenario isn’t just a daydream for ladies who lunch in Bedford (Westchester County), NY. Award-winning actor Richard Gere, his wife and fellow actor Carey Lowell, and their business partner Russell Hernandez have made this dream a reality.
The partners, who all live in neighboring Pound Ridge, bought up a dilapidated antique inn and outbuildings on the Old Post Road in Bedford. The main house, dating back to at least 1835, was originally a rambling home until the 1920s when it became the Bedford Green Inn and later Nino’s. In 2008, the partners opened the Barn at Bedford Post, the dreamy café and yoga studio described above. In 2009, they opened the adjacent Farmhouse restaurant and eight elegant lodging suites.
which serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea on weekdays and brunch on weekends, is cozy but loud. The lack of textiles on the floors and walls probably exacerbates the sound problem, but the bright yet rustic décor works perfectly in this verdant bedroom community 45 miles north of New York City. With Carerra marble floors, rough-hewn structural beams, two walls of French doors that lead to stone terraces, and a large working stone fireplace, this place just oozes horse country charm.
The menus at the Barn as well as the Farmhouse are all about being seasonal, local, and organic, whenever possible. This does not necessarily mean low-carb or low-calorie. The emphasis is on simple elegance, flavor and quality of ingredients. Chef Brian Lewis, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, trained throughout the U.S. and Europe before settling into his position in Bedford.
Servings are on the small side when you compare them to a New York deli sandwich or a diner platter, but the flavors are so satisfying, you don’t feel cheated (or overstuffed) when you leave.
A typical breakfast menu might include house made pecan cranberry granola with organic yogurt, steel cut Irish oatmeal with vanilla and golden raisins, banana pancakes with caramelized pecans and New York maple syrup (mmmmm!), brioche French toast with strawberry rhubarb compote (light and yummy), a frittata with chorizo, spinach, and ricotta, and even an egg sandwich (that tastes nothing like your favorite deli version, and yet, it’s divine!).
Lunches offer dining light on a salads of quinoa, beluga lentils, and avocado or spicy chicken and green papaya. They also include options like grilled Colorado lamb skewers in charmoula spices, a grilled hangar steak sandwich, or the tastiest little cheeseburger you’ve ever had (with cheddar, onion mostarda, and bacon). Be sure to order the sweet potato fries on the side! On my last visit, I had a wild mushroom grilled cheese sandwich with crisp sunchokes on the side. It was a fabulous combination of temperatures, flavors, and textures.
The price of this environmentally responsible and beautifully presented food is not cheap. Salads are $9-13, sandwiches are $14-17, and the hot entrees like the phenomenal scallops are in the $16-18 range. Since you won’t be overstuffed, you might want to save room for one of the Lewis’s highly addictive desserts ($6 each).
Of course, there are perks that come along with dining at the Barn, like rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gere (I sat behind him on my last visit), Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, Glenn Close, and other local celebrities. But, don’t feel you need to dress up to eat at the Barn – many guests are dressed in the aforementioned yoga gear or riding attire. Yes, they literally come in from a romp on the Bedford Riding Lanes (BRLA), a network of hundreds of riding trails that meander through the estates and land preserves that surround the area. I highly recommend making a reservation.
is decidedly more formal and offers a prix fixe chef’s signature tasting menu as well as a la carte menu options. Decorated in serene shades of brown by Carey Lowell and Tiffany Vassilakis, it offers large and small dining areas and a subterranean wine tasting cave which Lowell described with enthusiasm on my last visit (it had not yet opened to the public). The food, again, is delicately flavored, superbly prepared, and beautifully presented.
offers a variety of luxury accommodations. Some rooms offer fireplaces and terraces. The fee for lodging includes a complimentary yoga class, and assortment of fresh, homemade pastries in the private breakfast room. Wine and cheese cocktail hours are provided to weekend guests from 4-5 p.m.
All in all, the Bedford Post establishments are welcome additions to this community that does glamour in an upscale yet comfortably country way. Thanks to the quality of food that Lewis puts out on a daily basis, customers return again and again. If you’re just passing through town (on a horse or in a truck -- both are commonplace in horse country, yet Gere drives a silver Audi sedan), both the Barn and the Farmhouse are worth a visit – even if it’s just for tea and a crumpet. You’ll be glad you came.
It should be noted that I did not indicate my status as a journalist while at the Bedford Post, and I did not receive any complimentary services, meals, or drinks.