One of the perks of being a writer and having a food blog is getting invited to dinners, restaurant sneak peeks, and exclusive happy hours. The downside is sometimes it is impossible to make it to everything, so while I get to attend cool events, I miss a lot of them too. That was the case with Back 40 Kitchen. Twice. I missed two happy hour-ish events complete with cocktails and small bites, and I wanted to be there, I really did, but you know, life, man. At this point if I were to visit it would have to be on my own time.
Not too far after those missed opportunities, my good friends, Dan & Kristien (you know them as OmNomCT) hit me up with intentions of checking out Back 40.
|That’s where all the goods come from 🙂|
Food + I wasn’t doing anything + drinks + good company = I was all in. I also just REALLY wanted to visit Back 40 because of their organic, local & farm fresh, seasonal and gluten-free approach to their menu. Their ingredients are ALWAYS all-natural, and they either come from their own farm, Back 40 Farm in Washington, CT, or from other local sources. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu and everything but one or two items is gluten-free.
Even though the gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian lifestyle does not apply to me personally, nor am I one of those gluten-free pretenders (you know who you are), I was curious if food like this could excite me, if Back 40 was the place that could execute this type of menu and have it actually be good.
|The meal kicked off with gluten-free cornbread and honey butter.|
Damn. It was good. It was really good, thus disproving the myth that this type of food really can be quite delicious.
We started off our meal in typical food blogger fashion…by ordering drinks and a bunch of small plates. It’s a stereotype that we very much embrace.
|Stainless steel straws! BPA free and reusable. They also make those sips extra cold.|
The drinks though, are solid. Like I would come here just to have a few. The rum punch was as fruity and sweet as it was boozy, and they even made me like the small sip of house made, seasonal fruit sangria that I tried. I’m a whiskey guy so the Whiskey Lullaby, with chamomile, was for me, smooth with a punch. The cocktail menu is ever-changing and includes lots of in-season infusions that keeps things interesting.
|Pork porn? Is that a thing or nah?|
One of my favorite small plates at Back 40 is of the BBQ variety. The “Burnt Ends,” 24 hour smoked pork shoulder, peach BBQ sauce, topped with stone fruit. It’s definitely on the sweeter side but I still enjoyed it and the pork was so incredibly tender. It was placed in front of me so the rations on this one were in my favor. Another goodie was a special, a salad of fresh heirloom tomatoes, arugula, wax beans, Parmesan, and bacon, tossed in a bacon vinaigrette. I’m happy to report that the dressing really did taste like bacon, so that’s a win! Judging as a whole, I would have eaten the whole plate.
|While I wasn’t into the flatbread itself, the mushrooms and ricotta helped it along. This is the one item where the gluten-free flatbread tested me.|
My highlight snack here was the Seasonal Vegetable Pickle Jar. It was pucker-up style tarty and the brine was laced with so many spices that I just couldn’t guess what was in there. We tried to pick Chef George DeMarsico’s brain about the spices but he would not give away a single secret. The word coriander did come up so I’m guessing that’s one (out of like a bunch more!).
|Chef George sent out some Shishito peppers! Yes! Keep in mind that 1/10 is super hot, it’s spicy roulette!|
|More pork porn? Yeah, going with it.|
We ordered a couple mains after the smalls to fill whatever space remained in our stomachs (which wasn’t much by then), plus it was our duty to try something from each section of the menu. Pork and beef entrées seemed like good ideas and they were. The Grass-Fed NY Strip Steak w/ Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Onions & Black Garlic Butter was a hit; tender, perfectly mid rare steak, and not pictured because I just had to dig in. I do have problems keeping the foodgasms under control sometimes. The Honey Brined Pork Chop (black lentils, Swiss chard, cherry mustarda) was a juicy/tender chop with some slight sweetness and good carmelization, the Swiss chard on the plate helped balance out the sweetness from the chop and cherries. One of us even picked up the bone to gnaw off the rest of the meat (*cough Kristien *cough). If it hadn’t been her to go full-on primitive, it would have been me.
Another question remained though…
Could gluten-free and vegan desserts be awesome?
|Berry Crisp w/ crunchy granola, fresh blueberries and lavender ice cream.|
|Cookie shot! And a perfect cashew milk pour by Dan.|
So they have this cookie platter, and yeah. Great. The vegan cookies include chocolate chip, oatmeal, and some mock Oreos. All were moist (hate that word, but it applies here) and if I wasn’t told, I wouldn’t have known they were vegan. The same applies to the hot & gooey brownie sundae. Even when full, I kept going back for more until both of these were gone.
Were there a few things I didn’t love? Sure, but there were way more positives. Then again, I’m not in the habit of consistently eating vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten-free foods, so where I might not like something, someone that’s “about that life” might really dig it. Since my visit, I’ve raved about Back 40 to friends and some industry folks because they did something that most restaurants can’t do in getting me to eat and really like certain things I might usually scoff at. I told everyone that asked about Back 40 that I’d go back and I’m already anticipating my next meal there.
|So the restaurant wasn’t empty by any means, we just happened to close the place down. Ballin!|
107 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830