Back Yard Bistro - Montgomery, New York

The Hudson Valley is increasingly becoming known as a food destination.  Many of the restaurants in the area are using quality ingredients from local farms, so it is no surprise that people are flocking to the area to eat.  It has become so popular that the Hudson Valley even started the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.  You may be familiar with the restaurant week concept that is popular in New York City and other places, where you get a three course meal at a discounted price.

In it's 6th year, the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week was held between March 18 - 31st.  During Restaurant Week (which was actually 2 weeks), participating restaurants offer a three-course, prix-fixe dinner menu for $29.95 per person (plus tax, beverage and gratuity).  Some restaurants even offered a three-course lunch menu for $20.95 per person.  These restaurants are encouraged to feature local Hudson Valley products in their dishes.  With this deal in place it seemed like a perfect time to try the Back Yard Bistro.

The Back Yard Bistro is said to be by many one of the best restaurants in the Hudson Valley.  We have had numerous people tell us we have to try the food here.  Restaurant Week provided us the perfect opportunity to try a bunch of their dishes at a great price, so we took full advantage.

Menu:

The menu at Back Yard Bistro is full of unique ingredients and unconventional combinations that are sure to cause plenty of discussion around the table.  Usually we like to go in-depth with some of the more interesting dishes on a menu, but at the Back Yard Bistro we would end up naming each dish.  The other reason we are not going to go too in-depth with the menu is that they keep their menu very fluid.  Many of this dishes are changed each month to reflect seasonal ingredients.  There are however a few dishes for April that look interesting.  One that has caught our eye is the Northwind Farm Fried Chicken with Garlic Chive Dipping Sauce and Roast Garlic Brussels Sprout Cups.  There is also the Ramp Ravioli with Parsnip Veloute, White Truffle Oil Drizzle and Potato Espuma.  One thing you can bet on at Back Yard Bistro is that you will try some fruit, vegetable or meat that you have never had before. 

As many of you know we pride ourselves on taking our own photos. Unfortunately we had issues with lighting and we felt it was important to show all of the dishes we ate,  so we had to use some images from the Back Yard Bistro's Facebook page.

What We Ate:

Amuse

Cold Poached Mussel - Served on Brioche "Shell" Red Pepper, Basil. Saffron Sauces

Appetizers:

Crispy Fried Colonial Farm Egg Yolk - Served with Duck Fat Poached Potatoes and Crown Maple Glazed Lamb Bacon 

Saffron Risotto Cake - Served with Romesco and Asparagus

Korean BBQ Hudson Valley Cattle Co. Beef Heart Steamed Bun - Served with
Kim Chee Pickled Tongue

Entree:

Smoke Roasted Pork Loin - with Pickled Mustard Seeds and Sprout Creek Farm Bogart Cheese Gratin

Grilled and Confit Northwind Farm Chicken -  Served with Buttermilk Mashed & Roasted HV Yukon Gold Potatoes

Hudson Valley Cattle Co. Balsamic Pulled Beef - with Oxtail Barley

Desert:

Almond Vanilla Cake - Served with Hudson Valley Apple Ice Cream and Cinnamon Crisp

Chocolate Cake - with Salted Popcorn Ice Cream

Frozen Yogurt Mousse Wrapped in Crown Maple Syrup Pudding - with Sweet Chipotle Spiked Shortbread

We got eat plenty of great and interesting food on this night.  It was more of an food adventure so we will walk you through the night.  Back Yard Bistro is not a big restaurant, they only have about 10 tables.  It seems a bit small inside but you are still able to have a bit of privacy.  It is certainly a nice setting for a date. We went in March so we could only sit inside, but also offer outside seating when it is warmer.  The first thing we noticed was that the staff was extremely friendly.  We received top notch service the entire night.  Our waitress was very knowledgeable regarding the unique menu.  She also provided the perfect balance of service, checking in on us but also allowing us to enjoy our meal.

The first item you will see pictured is the amuse, which was a Cold Poached Mussel served on brioche "Shell" red pepper, basil and saffron sauces. An amuse is a complimentary appetizer or taste to start off your meal. Our amuse was this tasty little morsel.  It was full if intense flavors thanks to the brioche and the trio of sauces.  While the sauces seem to be only a decorative part of the dish, they are packed with flavor.  This dish was very good our only criticism is that since the mussel was so small the flavor was not strong enough to come through with all of the sauces.  We would have been very happy to eat a whole tray of these.

For the true appetizer course we each got our own appetizer.  The best part however is that we like to share so we got to taste all of them.  Our favorite was by far the Crispy Fried Colonial Farm Egg Yolk served with duck fat poached potatoes and crown maple glazed lamb bacon.  This entire dish was so good we are not even sure where to start.  We would love eat this for breakfast every single morning.  The focus of this dish is egg yolk.  Yes it is truly an deep fried egg that was still runny in the middle.  It was breaded with a bit of panko breadcrumbs to give it a crunchy texture.  As soon as we touched it with our fork the yolk oozed out on to our potatoes.  The potatoes were poached in duck fat giving it a nice flavor.  The potatoes combined with the crispy egg yolk were almost perfect.  Perfection was found when we added a piece of sweet and salty bacon to mix.  Once all of these components were in our mouth we found the perfect bite of food.  Sweet and salty, crunchy and gooey, everything you could desire.  The bacon was so amazing that is has spawned our interest in trying to create our own.

The second appetizer we had was the least successful in our opinion.  It was the Saffron Risotto Cake served with romesco and asparagus.  We did not find the cake to be anything special it was cooked well and had a nice texture but we were not wowed by the flavor.  We also do not appreciate asparagus as others do, they were however cooked perfectly.  The best part of this dish was actually the romesco.  We had no idea what romesco was when we ate it, but we looked it up as soon as we got home.  Romesco is a sauce that originated in Spain.  It is typically made from almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and nyora peppers.  It was the perfect complement to the risotto cake.  We felt the cake did not have any huge flavors, but it did provide a nice vehicle for eating the romesco sauce.  The sauce has a very sweet flavor thanks to the sweet red pepper and roasted garlic.  The risotto cake takes a back seat to the romesco sauce in this dish. 

Our final appetizer was the Korean BBQ Hudson Valley Cattle Co. Beef Heart Steamed Bun served with
kim chee pickled tongue.  We have had beef heart before, but never have we had tongue, so we were looking forward to this dish.  If you had been served this dish without knowing what type of meats were on the plate you probably would guess that you were eating beef.  Both the heart and tongue were very good but our favorite was the heart.  You may think that since the heart is a muscle that the meat would be tough and chewy, it was far from that.  It reminded us of a nice piece of steak on a very delicious steamed bun.  The tongue was not without its own charm.  It also was not rubbery meat you might imagine.  Instead it was very tender and worked well with the kim chee.  This dish was a tasty way to cross out two items on your "Foods To Try" bucket list.

For our entrees we started with the Smoke Roasted Pork Loin with pickled mustard seeds and Sprout Creek Farm bogart cheese gratin.  The pork loin was cooked perfectly to medium, as ordered.  It was juicy and tender and had a nice hint of smoke.  The mustard seeds also added tiny nice morsels of flavor.  We were however not huge fans of the gratin.  We think it has to do with the type of cheese used.  The bogart cheese had a distinct flavor that we did not enjoy.  The potatoes were seasoned well but we just did not enjoy the flavor of the dish. 

The second entree was the Grilled and Confit Northwind Farm Chicken served with Buttermilk mashed & roasted HV Yukon Gold Potatoes.  This dish was really good.  The grilled chicken was pretty standard, seasoned with salt and pepper and had nice grill marks.  It was tender and juicy but the real star was the confit chicken.  Confit is when a meat is cooked in its own rendered fat.  This chicken was very crispy and immensely flavor full.  We were even happier with the confit chicken skin chip.  While bad for our health, it was just heavenly.  The mashed potatoes were rich and creamy exactly how you want mashed potatoes to be made.  It is safe to say this plate did not last too long. We would highly recommend this dish if it is on the menu.

Our final entree was the Hudson Valley Cattle Co. Balsamic Pulled Beef with Oxtail Barley.  This was overall a decent dish.  Since we are pulled pork fiends, we were expecting a pile of pulled beef.  Instead it came served in the shape of what looked like a brownie.  It was most certainly beef and it had very good flavor.  It was a bit dry but that was helped by the ajus you can see on the plate.  We were actually excited for the oxtail barley hoping to try oxtail for the first time.  Unfortunately there were no chucks on oxtail mixed in with our barley.  Instead the oxtail must have been used to create the ajus that the barley was cooked in.  As for the barley it was our first time eating it, and it ended up not being one of our favorites.  It was a bit bland and had a uniquely soft texture.  Without the ajus we would not have wanted to finish the barley.  As an entire dish the ingredients went well together but the beef was the best part of the plate.

Now on to the dessert course, which was probably the best course all around. The Almond Vanilla Cake served with Hudson Valley Apple Ice Cream and Cinnamon Crisp was very good.  The cake was light and airy but still moist and was finished off with whipped cream. The ice cream with cinnamon crisp was our favorite part of this dish.  The ice cream tasted exactly like fresh apples, we wish we could buy this by the gallon.  It was sweet and creamy and the cinnamon crisp added a nice crunchy component. 

The second dessert we had ended up being our favorite.  It was the Chocolate Cake with Salted Popcorn Ice Cream.  The chocolate cake was moist and full of chocolate flavor, it would have been good all by itself. It was however served with one of the most original ice cream flavors we have ever had; salted popcorn.  It did in fact taste exactly like salted popcorn, it was fantastic.  When combined with the chocolate cake it provided the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  You do not often find sweet and savory associated with a dessert, but it was amazing. This dessert is a must eat if it is on the menu.

The last dessert we had was the Frozen Yogurt Mousse Wrapped in Crown Maple Syrup Pudding with Sweet Chipotle Spiked Shortbread.  This dessert was interesting thanks to the textures involved. Both the mousse and pudding were soft but were able to keep their form.  The shortbread added a needed hard texture as a counter point to the soft pudding wrapped mousse.  The mousse did not stand out nearly as much as the maple syrup pudding.  The pudding provided this intensely sweet flavor followed but the creaminess of the mousse.  The shortbread was mildly sweet and at first we thought it did not have much heat.  We thought it would would have been hotter being made with chipotle.  As it turns out we were a bit to fast to judge, as the chipotle made itself known subtly after being in your mouth for a few seconds.  Here is where the mousse helped counter act the heat of the shortbread.  Just like when the shortbread provided the crunch the mousse did not have.  It was quite the beneficial relationship for out palate.  This was another very good dish to complete our meal.  

Here is a recap of our favorite things from our entire meal.  As we said our favorite dish was the Deep Fried Egg Yolk with Maple Glazed Lamb Bacon.  Our favorite course was dessert. The most unique thing we had to eat was the romesco sauce.  Our favorite meat was the maple glazed lamb bacon.  Our favorite pairing of ingredients in any dish was the Chocolate Cake with Salted Popcorn Ice Cream.  Try just one of these items or try them all, Backyard Bistro will surely surprise your taste buds no matter what you eat.

Should Or Should Not Eat: 

To put it simply the Back Yard Bistro is a Should Eat.  They are creating dishes that put your palate on a roller coaster of flavor.  You are guaranteed to try something you have never eaten before, which does not happen in most restaurants.  Back Yard Bistro is not for those people who are looking to just end their hunger.  Instead they are creating dishes that make you think, talk and taste.  The Back Yard Bistro should be a destination for anyone who enjoys food and trying unique dishes.  With great food, a friendly staff and a quaint location you might just become a regular.

On a side note chef and co-owner Susan Crocker was recently a participant on the Food Network tv series Chopped.

Restaurant Information:

Back Yard Bistro

Montgomery, NY: 1118 State Route 17K 845.457.9901

Website: www.holbertscatering.com/website/bistro.shtml

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/BackYard-Bistro/151007131576218

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