Farm to Table @ Bailey's Backyard in Ridgefield

Jeff "jfood" Schlesinger

Bailey’s Backyard opened in 1999, the brainchild of Chef Sal Bagliavio, who oversaw the kitchen for fourteen years. Wanting to spend more time with his family he hired Executive Chef Forrest Pasternack in early 2013 to develop a farm-to-table menu, focused on locally produced ingredients.

Born and raised in Western Connecticut, Chef Pasternack’s love of fresh ingredients developed at an early age. His childhood included picking vegetables, fishing the waters of Nantucket Sound, and digging clams in Chatham, Mass.: all to enjoy at family dinner. This passion was both enhanced and refined when he graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America. Post-graduation he sharpened his culinary skills at some of New York’s finest restaurants, including Zoe with Chef David Honeysett, the BLT Restaurant Group with Chef Laurent Tourendel, Eats on Lexington with Chef Jeremy Spector, Employee’s Only and The Brindle Room. His passion for the farm-to-table movement inspired his menus at The SOHO Grand Hotel in lower Manhattan and Terra Restaurant in Greenwich. Since joining Baily’s Backyard, he has dazzled guests with creative combinations and bold flavors.

The interior of Bailey’s Backyard is filled with woods and rustic in its feeling, creating a relaxed environment to share Chef Pasternack’s culinary creations.

Chef Pasternack graciously created and served an array of appetizers; three were fantastic. The first was the “Devils on Horseback” with North Country bacon, Armagnac plums and pear. He first combined slow roasted pears with plum purée and tea infused prunes with Armagnac and wrapped in North Country Bacon, topped with a slice of plum and a delightful Cabernet and Armagnac reduction. The filling was a beautifully balanced array of flavors and the sauce was a perfect complement; an excellent way to begin the meal.

The “Chicken Liver and Grand Marnier Pate” was served with apricot mustard and thyme toasts. The paté was delicious and the Grand Marnier added delightful back-notes while the apricot mustard added the required sweet-acidity; the mustard just a touch of spice. This was an outstanding combination.

The third were the “Goat Cheese Profiteroles,” nestled in sun-dried tomato vinaigrette with a drizzle of aged Balsamic vinegar, and crowned with a Parmesan tuile.  Chef Pasternack’s choux was moister than the traditional dessert pastry and worked extremely well with the slight bitterness of the goat cheese. The presentation coupled the sweetness of the sundried tomatoes with the Balsamic to create a wonderful balance and the Parmesan crisp added a touch of saltiness.

The “Zucchini Fries” were garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese and paired with a pecan purée and mint. The zucchini wedges were crisp on the exterior and moist on the interior. The pecan purée added a slight earthiness to the fries. 

The “Tempura Vegetables” were a modern interpretation of traditional Asian finger food. The coating was light and airy and worked well with the hoisin sauce, while the cashew dust added just a touch of earthiness.

The “Grilled Asparagus Salad” tossed asparagus segments with frisée, shaved Percorino cheese, herbed red wine vinaigrette and topped with slices of Prosciutto. Sitting next to the salad was a dollop of black truffle hollandaise sauce. There was a great balance to this dish with the vegetables and the cheese, and the Hollandaise sauce elevated the flavors to a different level. This combination was outstanding. The prosciutto was too salty for the other ingredients and detracted from the overall composition.

The “Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke” was served with sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, Wakame (seaweed), black sesame seeds and puffed wonton. The flavors were great and were in perfect balance. As delicious as this dish was, it is very similar to other restaurants with the same item; I hoped for a new twist from this creative chef.

The “Whipped Foie Gras with Caramelized Onion Pierogi,” was finished with red wine pearl onions, chive crema and white truffle and bacon powder. The foie gras was one of the best I have tasted in recent months and when combined with the onions and truffle and bacon powder was delightful. The pierogi was too doughy and there was a scant amount of the caramelized onions, which were delicious, and when paired with the other ingredients created a fantastic combination. (This rendition was served on the night we dined but it is not on the current regular menu).

We sampled two entrées. My favorite of the two was the “Slow Roasted Suckling Pig” with yellow corn fritters, lavender, buttered peas and cracklin-Red eye gravy, which included two interpretations of the moist and succulent pig. A mound of incredibly delicious shredded pork atop a pork “pancake.” The shredded pork was one of the best I have tasted and I loved the textural difference between the two variations, which were delightful with the sauce.  The corn fritter was airy and light delivered a little spice, and peas were a pleasant textural addition.

I was less enthralled with the “Firecracker Rock Shrimp Scampi,” served over hand cut linguini, diced shallots, roasted garlic, and nestled in a Meyer lemon sauce. This was two dishes in one, the breaded and fried shrimp and the Meyer lemon sauce were a perfect pairing; the sweet and crunchy shrimp were a great complement to the smooth (almost a curd consistency) and tart lemon sauce. The shrimp and sauce were delicious, but it was sensory confusing when combined with the pasta.

Save room for dessert as the two we sampled were exceptional. The “Coffee & Donuts” included three different varieties of donuts; (1) Almond and Chocolate, (2) Powdered Sugar, and (3) Dulce de Leche & Bacon, all served with a pomegranate-espresso sauce. Each were whimsical and when dipped into the sweet-earthy sauce, they were fantastic. The Strawberry & Rhubarb Tart, toasted meringue, vanilla ice cream was even better. The sweetness of the strawberries and the tartness of the rhubarb was a brilliant combination and was further enhanced by the ice cream. I wish the large portion was even larger.

Overall, Chef Pasternack is serving some delicious and creative cuisine at Baily’s Backyard. I look forward to returning and indulging in many more of his culinary creations.

Bailey's Backyard

23 Bailey Ave · Ridgefield · (203) 431-0796

Really Liked

  • Devils on Horseback ($7)
  • Chicken Liver and Grand Marnier Pate ($7)
  • Goat Cheese Profiteroles ($7)
  • Slow Roasted Suckling Pig ($28)
  • Strawberry & Rhubarb Tart
  • Coffee & Donuts

Liked

  • Grilled Asparagus Salad ($13)
  • Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke ($15)
  • Whipped Foie Gras with Caramelized Onion Pierogi

Did Not Like

  • Zucchini Fries ($6)
  • Tempura Vegetables ($6)
  • Firecracker Rock Shrimp Scampi ($26)
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