One of the perks of food blogging: Getting invited to tasting menus. Some of these dinners are great (unfortunately some are not). Sometimes you even get to visit a restaurant that you have been meaning to get to and the invite just gives you that nudge in the right direction. And some of these tastings even have epic menus, like 10 courses or more epic. It’s a lot of food, sure, but somebody has got to do it! All this applies to Bailey’s Backyard.
Bailey’s Backyard has been around a while, way over a decade actually, and started as a restaurant that served New American cuisine. To keep up with the times, they adapted a farm-to-table meets modern creativity. And in case you’re wondering, they do farm-to-table correctly. They’re not tossing some fresh rosemary garnish on the plate from a local farm and being all like, “Boom! Farm-to-table, baby!” No, they’re getting their produce and meat from farms in Connecticut and their seafood comes from waters in the Northeast.
If you take Bailey’s farm-to-table realness and mix it with the creativity of Executive Chef Forest Pasternack (who has lots of food world cred), you’ve got a recipe for dishes that aren’t just tasty, but they look as appealing as they taste.
So, the food. You’re curious, right? Since this was one of the bigger tastings I’ve been a part of, the only way to do this is by breaking it down in sections. Let’s go!
For the Table, Sides & Greens
Although I have a greedy side when it comes to eating my entrée, I love sharing multiple plates with good company. It’s a good thing that Bailey’s has a bunch of “For the Table,” shareable options. They even did a really good job getting me to munch on a few things I don’t normally order. Although I usually despise it, the chicken liver & Grand Marnier pate was lightened up and made tolerable for me with the apricot and mustard when spread on the thyme toast. One of the sides, the zucchini fries (shaved parmesan, pecan puree, mint), is something else I wouldn’t think to order but they were a nice surprise, especially with the cooling factor of the mint.
|Cornbread with brown sugar butter = damn good|
My favorite side was composed of North Country Bacon, Armagnac plums, and pear and is called “Devils on Horseback.” Of the six we got to share, I ate four. The salty bacon with the sweet fruits was a huge hit. Bacon rules all.
The grilled asparagus salad was another gem. The asparagus was cooked but not overly so and still had some crunch and the blended flavors from the creamy black truffle hollandaise and the tangy red wine vinaigrette. I would have no problem eating this again.
|More bacon, please!|
|If there was ever a salad that resembled when people say, “That was a really good salad,” this is it.|
If I had to pick a dish I couldn’t wrap my head around it was the goat cheese profiterole with aged balsamic, crispy parmesan, and sun dried tomato vinaigrette. Even though I knew it was a savory dish, my brain kept thinking “sweet.” A little less goat cheese may have helped this dish in a positive way.
Our first starter added some Hawaiian flavor to the table in the form of poke. The Hawaiian Ahi tuna poke with sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, wakame (seaweed), black sesame seeds and puffed wonton was the true embodiment of freshness on a plate with lots of Hawaiian and Asian flavors that boost the dish.
Our second starter took us to Poland, or at least was a spin on the classic Polish perogi. This potato and caramelized onion perogi had a nice texture from the deep fry and was served with whipped foie gras, red wine pearl onions, a chive crema and white truffle and bacon powder (shout-out to the molecular gastronomy!). I had fun with this dish, swirling it in this, combining it with that. Playfulness = Goodness.
Even before the main courses I paced the meal out. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And even though I wanted to eat all the firecracker rock shrimp scampi, I just couldn’t manage the pasta or it would have filled me up. The dish, however, was a goodie. If you’re a shrimp person (I am not, but I still liked this), you’ll dig it, and the fresh pasta was perfect in just about every way pasta can be.
|The “Mains” rocked, starting with the firecracker rock shrimp and linguini.|
|Here, piggy, piggy.|
The reason for pacing this meal out besides making it to the end was for one dish that I hoped would be included in this tasting…the slow roasted suckling pig.
The pig was served two ways; one prep was the meat from the ribs, cheeks, etc. in handmade patty form and torched, the other prep was a slice of the shoulder. Being of half Puerto Rican heritage, this spoke to me, especially the tender shoulder. It was fork tender and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The cracklin’ gravy was a nice rich element and the subtle touch of lavender came through at the end. The addition of a golden and crispy yellow corn fritter just made the dish all the more fat boy fabulous. I don’t even care if I’ve had it already, I’m ordering this again. In fact, I’m considering getting a suckling pig as a pet just so I can butcher it when I’m ready. Joking. Maybe…
After eating every drop and licking the pig plate clean, I was stuffed. I still managed to taste dessert though. I wanted to eat all of the strawberry rhubarb tart but only managed a few bites to save room for dessert number two, the house made “coffee & donuts.”
|A little #vscocam fun with the donuts.|
I liked the creativity on the donuts (one: almond & chocolate, two: powdered sugar, three: dulce de leche & bacon) but I found them a little too greasy even though the flavor was still there. The “coffee” part was in the form of a pomegranate-espresso sauce for some dipping fun.
The simple answer? I liked them all. Bar manager, Brian Walsh, mixes up some magical stuff using fresh ingredients and infusions made in-house. My two favs:
|Come on, how refreshing does that look?|
- Six Toed Cat: blueberry & mint infused rum, lime, fresh mint, ginger beer. Perfect fruity drink for warm summer nights.
|The “don’t you dare call him Mark Twain” Samuel Clemens.|
- Samuel Clemens: ginger infused vodka, lemon, ginger, black pepper, club soda. Perfect drink for all the time. I especially liked that it wasn’t too sweet and it had some spice from the pepper. It was like drinking lightly sweetened/spiced lemonade. I downed mine and I never order vodka drinks.
I’m chomping at the bit to go back! Possibly for brunch?! I’d also like to return when the back dining room is opened up and it’s all summery. Either way, get that Samuel Clemens ready and hopefully lots of pig 😉
23 Bailey Avenue
Ridgefield, CT 06877
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