Bailey's Backyard in Ridgefield: 2 CTbites Writers Explore Their New Summer Menu

When Sal and Forrest invite you to a summer tasting menu, you say yes first and ask questions later. That would be Sal Bagliavio, owner of Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield, and Forrest Pasternack, the restaurant’s executive chef. The two have been the creative force behind the restaurant’s New American menu since its reinvention just two years ago.

The story of Bailey’s actually goes back to 1999 when Sal, a chef himself, renovated the then coffee shop into a beloved Ridgefield restaurant that he ran for over a decade. Eager for a new chapter but happy to remain in Ridgefield, he reimagined it as a New American restaurant driven by seasonal ingredients and local purveyors in 2013. Over the past two years, Bailey’s has solidified its place in the Fairfield County dining scene thanks to the adventurous culinary spirit of Chef Pasternack and the dedication of Bagliavio.

"It's truly great to be part of a community (Ridgefield and all of Fairfield County)  that appreciates and supports our efforts in not only supporting the local community, but also our continued quest to become a unique and true culinary destination," said Sal Bagliavio.

Eager to experience their latest menu and cocktails, we teamed up our palates to tackle a 6 course meal paired with their signature craft cocktails. 

Amy on Cocktails

Black Beauty ManhattanWhite Mary: Cucumber-infused vodka with celery simple syrup and elderflower liqueur.

This is the kind of cocktail you want to enjoy as a kick-off to a meal; refreshing with ample (maybe too much) sweetness, and a whiff of earthiness that left me longing for more tart flavors and wondering why we don’t use celery more in our drinks.

Black Beauty Manhattan: Woodford reserve, ruby port, orange bitters, and black cherries.

Paired nicely with Forrest’s unforgettable pork loin entree, Bailey’s take on this signature drink stands on its own with its velvety layers of bourbon, ruby port, and orange. If you’re skipping dessert, I’d recommend it as a digestif to be enjoyed on its own. A very well balanced drink, I recommend you order it "up." B's Knees

The B’s Knees: Glenbrook Plum Gin, Blackberry/Lavender Syrup, Lime Juice and fresh berries.

If this drink could make a sound, you would hear a gentle buzzing of bees as they make their way around a blooming garden. It’s summer in a cocktail; sweet, fragrant, and a bit earthy. A well-balanced take on a classic Prohibition-era cocktail remade in the image of summer.

Our Escape: House-infused coconut rum, pineapple, coconut foam and dark rum float.

What is it about coconut and rum that will instantly transport you to a white sandy Caribbean beach. This is a dessert-in-and-of-itself kind of cocktail that will happily blow-out your palate and leave you wondering, is it a daiquiri or is it a piña colada? Let's split the difference and call it by “adaiquirized piñacolada.”

Jeff on Menu

The evening started with one of the items from the “For the Table” section of the menu, the zucchini and corn fritters. The fritters were nestled in a swath of delicious zucchini purée and served with thinly sliced Hakurei turnip and green beans. The Zucchi blossoms were prepared tempura-style, with a light and airy crust and delicate on the interior and a twinge of bitterness. The corn fritters were a textural contrast to the zucchini with a moist cake-like consistency and back-notes of nutmeg. When paired with the zucchini purée, both variety of the fritters were very good.

The “Greens” that Chef Pasternack prepared included red endive leaves topped with chunks of champagne melon, shaved Holbrook Farms cucumber, Pecorino-garlic croutons and finished with an olive-oil lemon emulsion and fresh mint leaves. The contrast between the peppery endive and the sweetness of the melon was excellent and the cucumbers added another sweet component. This was a very refreshing salad with a little spiciness.

We were served three of the “Starters,” and the pan seared George’s Bank scallop was my favorite. A sweet, perfectly seared scallop offered a mild flavor accented by the saltiness of the crispy prosciutto. It was served over tabbouleh, in a pool of lemon beurre blanc, and sprinkled with orange infused olive oil powder. These three ingredients delivered bright contrasts to the scallop. Chef Pasternack added another element with a swath of pureed fava beans, which contributed an earthy quality to the dish.

The Chili Rellenos was no ordinary rendition. The Poblano chili was hollowed and stuffed with chipotle goat cheese, fried and topped with melted Queso Fresco cheese. It was paired with fennel marmellata and a dollop of wild lingonberries. The dish presented a perfect balance of spiciness from the Poblano chili and chipotle goat cheese with the sweetness of the fennel marmellata and the tanginess of the lingonberries. This was one of the most delicious and inventive chili rellenos I have ever tasted.

The last “Starter” was the most discussed combination, both before and after it was served. A wedge was removed from a 4”oblong brioche and stuffed with lobster salad and celery slaw. Sitting atop the lobster were two slices of seared foie gras. The brioche was served with a breaded cube of fried mayo and these all sat in a small amount of a white Balsamic reduction. As much as I wanted to love this interpretation, it just did not work for me. The lobster was overwhelmed by the celery slaw and the foie gras did not complement the lobster or the brioche. The fried mayo was an interesting addition to this novelty dish.

For an entrée we were served the Sugar Hill Berkshire pork loin and it was my favorite dish of the evening. The presentation centered on a thick slice of a beautifully tender, medium-rare loin topped with a port and Muscat grape vierge. This was one of the best combinations I have tasted in a long time, the sweet grapes paired perfectly with the pork. To bring an earthy quality to the dish, the loin was placed over a creamy and delicious mound of whipped red potatoes, rainbow carrot ribbons and a smattering of sweet sugar snap peas. This was fantastic. The thick pork loin with the sides was both comforting and full of outstanding flavors.

The dessert plate delivered two very distinct offerings. The first was a slice of goat cheesecake, served over a thin slice of carrot cake, in a pool cinnamon purée and finished with a kumquat brulée. This savory dessert was marked by the creaminess of the cheesecake and the purée complemented by the moist, denseness from the cinnamony carrot cake. The bolt of sour from the thinly sliced kumquat was a delightful offset. The other, sweet, dessert was a strawberry-rhubarb hand pie sitting in a ginger sour cream, strawberries and fennel pollen. The strawberry-rhubarb filling was delicious but the dough was a little too thick. The tartness of the sour cream and chunks of strawberries were a very good addition.

Overall, it an excellent and diverse assembly of creative cuisine focused on the flavors of the season. From the sweet champagne melon to the spicy chili to the wonderful pork with port and grape sauce, Chef Pasternack again highlighted his ability to match various flavors and textures into wonderful dishes in a relaxed and comfortable environment. 

Jeff

Really Liked

  • Pan Seared Scallop
  • Chili Rellenos
  • Pork Loin
  • Goat Cheesecake 

Liked

  • Fritters
  • Red Endive Salad
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Hand Pie 

Did Not Like

  • Foie Gras and Lobster Roll

23 BAILEY AVENUE RIDGEFIELD, CT 06877  203-431-0796

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