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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
Back 40 Kitchen: Taste their Values

Back 40 Kitchen: Taste their Values

If you care about authenticity and a clear vision that begins on a family farm, bringing the freshest ingredients possible to your plate, you’ll love Back 40 Kitchen as much as we did.

Every detail of the recently opened farm to table restaurant is an expression of Bill and Lesley King’s mission to bring organic ingredients to the table while respecting the land  and the people who tend it.

No cliches here, folks. This is the real deal.

(Don’t live near our neck of the woods? Be sure to check back in on Thursday when we’ll be sharing Back 40 Kitchen’s version of falafel in their recipe for Black Eyed Pea Falafel with Curry Yogurt Sauce.)

Back 40 Kitchen, Greenwich, CT, recycles coffee grounds using them to flavor ice cream, dehydrates leftover fruit to make kid-friendly fruit leathers, and reduces water useage by leaving the tables bare (and not laundering table linens). The barnwood used throughout the airy dining room is recycled, too, as is iron used in lighting and railings. The water is purified therough a reverse osmosis H2O system, thereby elminating the need to offer bottled waters.

Their mission is clear from top to bottom. And the food shines as a result of it.

Photo courtesy of Back40 Kitchen, Greenwich, CT
Photo courtesy of Back40 Kitchen, Greenwich, CT

WHEW! Let’s talk about the food!

Healthy eaters, vegetarians, those with gluten-sensitivies, locavores, anyone kosher like me: you will be in heaven.  This tent beckons everyone to gather here and taste what the Back 40 team is up to.

Chef George Demarsico; Photo courtesy of Back 40 Kitchen.
Chef George Demarsico; Photo courtesy of Back 40 Kitchen.

We surveyed the menu with help from staffers who pointed out the many vegetarian options we might consider. The choices change almost every day, requiring the talented and flexible chef George Demarsico to respond to what is picked that morning and trucked in from the 85 acre family farm only an hour away in Washington, CT.

We started with a smoky bowl of Heirloom Popcorn sprinkled with Smoked Paprika. A little bit of crunch and smoke is fine, but this wasn’t our favorite starter. We wondered if other flavor profiles might be available for kids who need to stay busy while waiting for their meals.

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

A single serving sized pickling jar jammed with pickled garlic scapes, green beans, carrots, turnips and cukes came next. Presentation was adorable and the vinegar to spice ratio was just right. Veggies were as crisp as could be, just the way we love ’em. And after our recent post on pickling, we really know what to expect.

YES! pickled garlic scapes!

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

We were encouraged to try the Cashew, Cucumber, Coriander and Grape Soup and were thrilled by it’s velvety texture, pale green tinge and surprising tang (apple cider vinegar). We learned that the chef choses not to use umbrella terms like “gazpacho” to refer to his dishes. Instead, he lists the dominant ingredients and allows the taster to make the associations.

I like the idea. It really does free us to take that first taste without any preconceptions.

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Glistening, barely blistered, sauteed Shishito Peppers with Sea Salt arrived next and we began to fully realize the talents of a chef who allows his ingredients to shine. With nothing more than a few flakes of sea salt and very good oil, this dish, like all the others, was really about nature’s purest flavors. The peppers presented barely any heat, just the most outstanding green pepperiness.

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Roasted Squash, Egg and Cheddar on Gluten-Free Flatbread was the first hearty dish we encountered and we were wow’ed by the crispy millet based crust of this easy to share appetizer. If you haven’t tasted creamy, rich, farm-fresh eggs, you’ll love the rich and runny yolk. If you’re gluten-intolerant, you’ll be doubly satisfied.

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Salads were all vegetarian (shouldn’t they always be?) and we dove into one with Carrots, Arugula, Blue Cheese and Pistachios. Carrots were both roasted and raw, providing fun textural contrast. A honey vinaigrette highlighted my favorite local Red Bee Honey (it re-appeared later as a house infused jalepeno honey in a gin based cocktail called Killer Bees Knees).

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

All sides were vegetarian and the Stone Ground Polenta, Hen of the Woods with Shallots and Thyme, and Heirloom Carrots with Maple and Coriander all appealed.

I’m usually hesistant to order falafel (I’ve eaten plenty in my day) but the description of Black Eyed Pea Falafel Wrap with Curry Yogurt Sauce had me wondering. Everything about it was a riff on the traditional and I needed to check it out.

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

I loved it so much that I scored the recipe to share! Check back in on Thursday to see how easy and delicious this change-up is.

My companion, C. and I love mushrooms so we finished (almost) with Roasted Mushrooms with Quinoa, Kale and Salsa Verde. Meaty chunks of roasted Hen of the Woods and Trumpets were nestled in abundance in a bed of red quinoa and a large portion of sauteed kale. For someone wanting a hearty, vegetarian entree, this would be more than satisfying. I prefer bright and crisp veggies in the summer but my friend said this was her favorite dish.

 

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

 

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Desserts are creative and everything (including an outstanding selection of eight ice creams, sorbets and vegan ice creams) on the menu, including cocktail tinctures and house made syrups and infusions are made on the premises. We opted for the simplest plate of vegan cookies and cashew “milk” and  were delighted to have healthier versions of Oreos, Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip cookies placed before us.

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Call me just a tad bit meshug, but the chilled, house-made and frothy Cashew Milk was like icing on the cake for me. It simply drove home the point that every detail at Back 40 Kitchen matters.

And I appreciate that.

Watch for Chamomile Tincture in the Whiskey Lullaby. Photo: Liz Rueven
Watch for Chamomile Tincture in the Whiskey Lullaby. Photo: Liz Rueven

An interesting and tight wine list includes seven whites and eight reds. All are made from organic grapes and a handful are biodynamic.

Back 40 Kitchen

107 Greenwich Ave.- parking and entrance are in rear

Click here for lunch and dinner hours.

•Back 40 Kitchen is NOT a kosher restaurant. It has many vegetarian choices for those who are Kosher Like Me.

 

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