Pickles and Sickles

My favorite sandwich was the pork sammy, made with braised belly and mustard-pickled shallots on a hard roll. Blue crab

My favorite sandwich was the pork sammy, made with braised belly and mustard-pickled shallots on a hard roll. Blue crab with celery and mustard was lost on top of a challah roll; too much dough.

The flesh of the whole grilled Catskill trout was the consistency of a duvet. Eating it reminded me of a French food writer’s comment on ranch-raised salmon, which he excoriated for being no hard-bellied athlete. “Salmon are like men: Too soft a life is not good for them.” This trout must have spent its life snoozing under a rock. A salsa verde made with cilantro brightened it up.

Desserts included a fine apple pie with a crunchy sugared crust, topped with vanilla ice cream; cider-glazed doughnuts that tasted dry and stale; and a brownie that was a perfect kid’s dessert. I wasn’t convinced by the stout float with pears in wine syrup—a drink and dessert in one. Give it to the teenagers.

Back Forty is an endearing restaurant that hasn’t quite found its groove. At times it’s trying too hard and it’s a wee bit earnest. “Tonight’s special is hangar steak; that’s the tender, marbled part under the belly that doesn’t get much of a workout,” said our server sweetly one evening.

Right. Tell that to the people at Crunch.

There’s no edgy East Village vibe here. Except for the view out the front room window, you could be at a nice neighborhood restaurant in Seattle or San Francisco. And I found it odd in this street of trendy late-night bars to note that the dining room was emptying out at 9:30 one evening, like a midtown restaurant.

Around then our waiter came over and asked if we were still working on our food. We had ordered too much, of course. My companion asked to have it packed up so he could continue working on it at home, like a true locavore.

Pickles and Sickles