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Bailey’s Backyard Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Ridgefield– A Locavore’s Dream

July 6, 2016

The farm-to-table buzzword has been tossed around so much it’s almost become cliché, not to mention the fact that there are many variations on the definition of authentic farm-to-table. It’s rare to find a Chef that is truly committed to sourcing local, organic, non-GMO products. So, when Chef Forrest Pasternack of Bailey’s Backyard told me he makes his own ketchup, I knew immediately that he is the real deal. He’s developed relationships with farms from New York to Vermont and sources the finest, freshest items for his menu. All of the products Chef Forrest uses including flour and soy are non-GMO!

Bailey’s Backyard opened in October 1999 in what was a closed-down coffee shop. The mission then, as it is now, was to offer refined, New American cuisine in a polished casual atmosphere. But that wasn’t enough for owner Sal Bagliavio, he wanted to take it to the next level and in the Spring of 2013 evolved Bailey’s into a true farm-to-table restaurant. With seating for just 50 people, you really feel like you are a part of their family having a delicious home-cooked meal.

The mission was expanded to include a commitment to creating a menu based on the freshest and finest local food sources: meat and poultry from Shelton, Roxbury, Bridgewater and Newtown, produce from Ridgefield and neighboring farms, and fresh seafood from waters off Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York as well as from the Chesapeake Bay.

Sal Bagliavio was the primary chef at Bailey’s Backyard from the day he opened the restaurant in October 1999 until he hired the restaurant’s new executive chef, Forrest Pasternack, in February 2013. Sal recalls having to personally drive to local farms to pick up produce and meats on a daily basis, but now the farms not only deliver to him, but they customize their plantings to his menu!

Born and raised in Western Connecticut, Chef Forrest and his family would often spend their days at local farms picking vegetables for the family table. Summers were spent on Cape Cod fishing the waters of Nantucket Sound, the National Seashore as well as digging clams in Chatham, Mass. Forrest worked with many of the best modern chefs at some of New York’s finest restaurants, including: Zoe with Chef David Honeysett, the BLT Restaurant Group with Chef Laurent Tourendel, and Chef Jeremy Spector of Eats on Lexington, Employee’s Only and The Brindle Room.

He developed menus and farm-to-table purchasing for large hotels like The SOHO Grand Hotel in lower Manhattan before returning to his home state of Connecticut, becoming the chef of Terra Restaurant in Greenwich, CT. While at Terra, his focus was on local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Now in the kitchen at Bailey’s Backyard, Pasternack layers flavor and texture with a deft hand, preserving the seasonal integrity of the food while highlighting his own creativity.

It’s inspiring to see the number of farms they source from including Dancing Dog Farm which is a biodynamic and permaculture inspired farm right in Ridgefield – you can’t get more local than that! Forrest sources microgreens, squash, tomatoes, chard and kale from them. They use Marble Valley Farm in Kent for heirloom varietals, and an assortment of organic vegetables, including; sugar snap peas, swiss chard, kale, escarole, endive, head lettuce, beets, squash, tomatoes, arugula, mizuna, mustard greens, hot peppers, celery root, diakon, winter squash, and edible pumpkin.

I was excited to hear that they use Sugarhill Farm for grass-fed and finished beef – which if you aren’t aware is different from grass-fed, grain finished beef. Grass finishing was standard until the 1950s, when grain finishing became the cost-effective norm. However, calories and overall fat in the animals’ tissues rise during grain finishing whereas grass-finished beef is lean.

If you want variety – this is the place to go as the menu changes 9 times per year. That’s not an easy task for a chef or an owner! One look at the menu and your mouth will begin to water. Everything sounds incredible with a promise of delicious and unique flavor profiles and each dish is deliciously and lovingly prepared with a great balance of flavors and textures.

We were presented with a delicious corn bread with citrus brown butter – made in house of course! Next we enjoyed the Seared Diver Scallop and Lobster Ceviche with Seville Oranges, Roasted Hazelnuts, White Ginger, Crispy Avocado and Fennel Salad – the flavors were amazing with the perfect crunch from the hazelnuts and crispy avocado. Our main course was the Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwich with Baby Lettuces, Nueske’s Bacon, Maple-Aioli, House Pickle and Red Cabbage Slaw. It sounds like an easy dish to prepare, but is actually quite complicated to ensure the chicken is lightly battered and the waffle has a slightly crispy exterior and soft dough on the inside. The maple-aioli gave it the ideal sweet and salty flavor. I was not surprised that Chef Forrest made it to perfection!

If you’re planning a wedding or other event, you’ll be happy to learn that Bailey’s Backyard is available for private events of every type and size: birthday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, all-day corporate retreats, business luncheons, cocktail receptions, dinners and weddings. They have years of experience with on- and off-premise private event planning and coordination offering an array of customized catering options.

Chef Forrest is offering a Farm Dinner at Newpond Farm in Redding on September 17th – be sure to check the website for more information. In addition, Bailey’s is a Simpaug Farms CSA pick-up location and members receive a weekly share of seasonal produce delivered fresh from the farm June through November. Contact info@simpaugfarms.com.

Bailey’s is excited to be starting another location in Stamford/Old Greenwich border, named Palmer Hill, which is slated to open in late 2016. To experience all of our amazing local farm’s produce and a true farm-to-table experience this summer and year-round, don’t miss Bailey’s Backyard.

Submitted by Dr. Diane Hayden. For more information, visit www.baileysbackyard.com.

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