The farm-to-table trend is one that has gained a lot momentum and notoriety in Fairfield County and the U.S. as a whole. Many people claim to source only local and sustainable ingredients. There are plenty of imitators and quite frankly, frauds, that label themselves as such. Bailey’s Backyard and its chef, Forrest Pasternack, DO NOT fall into the latter category. They are the real deal. From the home infusions at the bar to the amazing entrees, Bailey’s does it right.
We started out, like all good nights, with some creative cocktails. Brian, the sommelier, and his team create their own infusions like ginger vodka, cucumber gin, and vanilla bourbon. Unlike a lot of bars that make infusions, typically in pretty bottles on the bar, Bailey’s makes clean infusions. This means that if the base spirit is clear, the finished product will also be clear due to a filtration process after the infusion. We sampled the Ballard and the Mark Twain Manhattan. Both were excellent cocktails highlighting the home infusions.
Before dinner, we were presented with a house made treat, an Irish soda bread complete with carraway seeds, currants, and honey. To make it even more amazing, there was a beautiful brown sugar butter to pour on top of the bread! There were so many unique flavors present that it is one of those things you just have to try for yourself.
Once we made our way through the homemade bread, the chef’s tasting menu began. The first course was Butternut Squash Soup. This is one of our favorite soups, which is a blessing and a curse when we eat it out at a restaurant because we have such high expectations. Chef Forrest certainly passed with flying colors, and added a few thoughtful additions like pumpkin seeds, local honey and crème fraiche. Even the way it is served is exciting. They first bring out the soup dish with the crème fraiche and then pour the hot soup over the dish to allow the two to marry but not be blended that the former is indistinguishable.
We then worked our way through the next few courses, all with their own creative and distinctive flairs. Chef Forrest served us a gorgeous Berkshire Pork Belly served with baby pink shrimp, grits, and roasted baby bell peppers that melted in your mouth. The pork was so tender and flavorful that I wished it were a larger plate. We then had a great Roasted ‘Ida Red’ Apple Salad. The buttermilk and dill dressing was a light accent that showcased the apples and the Belgian Endive. It also came with black currants that are soaked in Riesling wine.
The next dish to roll out was the Citrus Marinated Swordfish. The presentation was beautifully done, but it was a little too sweet for my taste.
After the swordfish, Chef surprised us with a little intermezzo. A rustic nudo, similar to a gnocchi, that was served in a spoon with a flavorful Parmeggiano truffle sauce. One of these was not enough! I could have easily eaten a full plate of them for a meal.
The parade of plates culminated in the Balsamic Glazed Boneless Short Ribs. These ribs were like butter in your mouth, literally melting! They were also served with a rare medley of Spanish Black Radish, Gilfeather Turnip Puree, Chick Peas, and Smoked Paprika. The Gilfeather Turnip is an heirloom varietal that is sourced like all of the other items, from a small local farm, this one located in Vermont.
After coming down from the high of the short ribs and having a few minutes to digest, we finished off our night with two different desserts. We had a Nutella Mousse that was just what the doctor ordered. It was light and airy that provided enough sweetness to satisfy but not too much that it was overbearing. The other dessert was called the Pumpkin Cloud 9. It was a brioche “pain perdu” that was also fluffy and had just the right amount of sweetness. It was like a light autumn version of French toast.
If you find yourself in Ridgefield, this is a must try for any foodie. The chef, the staff and the food all make your trip worthwhile. Even though all of these items may not be available all the time, you can be sure that Chef Forrest will make the ingredients he has at his disposal shine in ways that will surprise and charm your taste buds!
Address: 23 Bailey Avenue, Ridgefield, CT 06877
Phone: (203) 431-0796
Attire? Smart Casual
Vibe? Rustic, Clean, Cozy
Hours: Brunch – Sat./Sun. 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Lunch – Tues.- Sun. 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Dinner – Tues. – Thurs. 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM, Fri. – Sat. 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Sun. 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Parking: Free parking in the municipal lot adjacent to the restaurant