For those of you who are unfamiliar with this charming eatery in the heart of Ridgefield, Bailey’s Backyard first opened its doors nearly 20 years ago as a neighborhood coffee shop before transforming itself into a charming American restaurant with a simple concept; offer exceptional seasonal cuisine in a cozy, relaxed atmosphere. It would soon become a neighborhood hot spot, offering locals a new dining experience. Several years ago Bailey’s evolved once again and the restaurant is now a farm-to-table establishment with a mission to create a menu based on the freshest local sources. Today meat and produce are still gathered from nearby farms, both in New York and Connecticut, and Seafood is garnered from Connecticut, Massachusetts and the Chesapeake Bay.
Owner Sal Bagliavio recently brought on Executive Chef Zach Campion, a Johnson & Whales graduate, who brings with him an impressive list kitchen credentials. Though his approach is vibrant, and uncomplicated, he has a flair for the creative, pairing unexpected items to create combinations that are surprising and pleasant.
I was recently invited to sample Bailey’s new Market Table Tasting Menu offered every Wednesday night. A new menu is introduced each week, giving diners the opportunity to try something new each time. The menu is Prix Fixe, $40 for four courses or $65 for the four courses and a wine pairing.
Of the four courses you’ll begin with a starter and choose from a salad, soup or other small plated offering. We were privy to sample three items listed on our menu. White bowls filled with lump crab meat and a handful of croutons were plated in front of each one of us. The Pumpkin Bisque was then carefully poured into each individual bowl. The soup, piping hot, was silky smooth and just slightly sweet. The creamy broth was complemented by the crab and drew from the croutons for texture.
The Arugula Salad with roasted apples, chickpeas, pickled red onions and blue cheese was dressed in a light white balsamic vinaigrette. A nice balance of sweet and savory, of tart and acid pulled the ingredients together beautifully.
We also tried the Butternut Squash Fritters lightly battered and fried, soft and decadent, served with crème fraiche, pumpkin seeds, greens and apple slices.
For the second course we sampled a Mortadella Rangoon, a Smoked Salmon Rillette and Seared Scallops. The Mortadella Rangoon is a perfect example of Chef’s creativity. Mortadella and Rangoon are two words and two ingredients most wouldn’t think to pair together. It took just one bite. I was smitten. Beneath the crispy exterior was a soft flavorful interior with flavors and textures quite unpredicted. Also unexpected was the accompanying sweet and sour relish and honey mustard glaze. An unlikely pairing yielding a delicious result. The Smoked Salmon was another hit. Creamy, soft and rich, the salmon was served with capers, onions, dill, pickles and toast. Seared Scallops, tender to the bite, were served over a bed of creamed spinach, toasted barley, and toasted prosciutto. This dish presented a unique assortment of flavors and textures which paired so wonderfully.
From there we moved on to our Main course, from a selection of Ahi Tuna, Hanger Steak, and Eggplant Ravioli I chose the tuna. The tuna was cooked to my liking, seared on the outside and rare in the middle. It was accompanied by ramen noodles, peas, ginger, scallions and a citrus hoisin glaze. While nicely cooked and well-seasoned, the tuna – I felt – needed more oomph. The ramen noodles were a bit too sticky – they too could have used a bit more flavor. The peas were slightly undercooked. I have to say after having sampled everything else I had higher hopes for the fish. A couple of my peers ordered the steak, and they seemed quite happy.
Unfortunately, no matter how much I eat there seems always to be room for dessert. There three from which to choose; Banana Bread Pudding with whipped cinnamon cream cheese, white chocolate and vanilla gelato, the Lemon Trifle with graham cracker crumb, lemon curd, blueberries and whipped cream, or the Vegan Carrot Cake with caramelized pineapple compote, carrot crumble and coconut sorbet. I opted for the latter. And don’t let the word vegan scare you. It was as decadent and delicious as you would hope for it to be. And impossible to stop after just one spoonful.
For more information on Bailey’s Backyard, their Market as well as their Brunch, catering and regular menus, visit their website, http://www.baileysbackyard.com/menus.html.
23 Bailey Avenue
Ridgefield, CT CT 06877