At the Buffalo Jump, a Once-Notorious Chef Remakes His Image—and Cape Cod Cuisine
Alongside his wife-partner, Brandon Baltzley launches a winning new act in a storied career.
Arriving at Coonamessett Farm at twilight, the only signs of activity are the buzz of mosquitoes, the subtle whir of a wind turbine powering nearby greenhouses, and the warm, yellow light spilling out from the open farmstand door. Following that glow, I step into a classic New England country market, wood shelves lined chockablock with jars of local honey and handmade soaps. Then I smell it, wafting up from the subterranean kitchen: brown butter, baking bread. Dinner’s on at the Buffalo Jump.
Only a few years ago, Brandon Baltzley had a national profile as a troubled chef-genius thanks in large part to his 2013 memoir, Nine Lives, which dished candidly on both his successes in world-famous kitchens and struggles with drug addiction. He and his wife, Laura Higgins-Baltzley, have cooked in much finer quarters than the basement of a Cape Cod farm: together at Brookline’s lauded Ribelle before it flamed out, and Baltzley at Chicago’s Alinea and Copenhagen’s Noma—both ranked among the world’s best restaurants.
Yet this 20-acre homestead in Higgins-Baltzley’s native East Falmouth just may be the ideal setting for their three-, five-, and eight-course seasonal dinners. Here, the couple apply a New England lens to Noma-like ideals of New Nordic cuisine—read: primal techniques (from simple smoking to raw preparations) and ingredient sourcing that minimizes environmental impact. Nori-wrapped, sushi-style hand rolls, for instance, are made with Quebec bison, a more sustainable choice than beef. (The restaurant’s name is actually a Native American bison-hunting reference.) Grilled beach roses, meanwhile, foraged during the couple’s regular walks around Waquoit Bay, imbue a sweet-floral aroma to butter accenting lightly smoked oysters. Nearly all of the produce, from green strawberries to brassicas to seaweed, came to life in Falmouth.
Sampling it all while seated in a comfortable arrowback chair in the farm’s screened-in dining room, I realize this quainter locale hasn’t compromised the couple’s ambitions. Baltzley is currently writing his next book, tentatively titled The Buffalo Jump. If tonight is any indication, the best chapters are still to come.
The Buffalo Jump
Miles from Boston: 68
Nautical charm meets modern sophistication at the recently revamped Coonamessett (starting at $209 per night), a charming 29-room inn that hosts the Black Dog Concert Series in its indoor/outdoor ballroom overlooking Jones Pond.
The Buffalo Jump is BYOB, so you’ll want to stop by the Cape Cod Winery to pick up a bottle or two before dinner. The scenic (and dog-friendly!) vineyard also has an open-air post-and-beam bar for on-site tastings.