This past weekend, I had the opportunity to check out 2 new restaurants that were on my list to try – 1) Back Forty West in SoHo and 2) Miss Lily’s in the Village; all the while mixing in 1 night of cooking at home. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one meal that was totally enjoyable from beginning to end (aside from the company that I was with). Looking back, there were terrific dishes from each meal that I would definitely recommend, however, overall, the sum of the parts is definitely greater than the whole. It would be great if I could take parts from every meal to put together one fabulous meal. That one meal would be better than all of the meals added together.
Friday: I had never been to the original Back Forty in the East Village so I was excited to check out the new one. My husband and I met some friends there Friday night. We arrived first and were sat the bar to wait for them. The downstairs bar area was very warm and cozy, like you arrived into your friends upstate country home. It was a small seating area but not too small as it didn’t give off the feeling of claustrophobia, and decorated with soft caramel wood tables, chairs, stools and bar – a perfect place to either sit on a cold night or open the windows for some fresh air on a warm spring day. They even had all stemless glassware (which I’m a fan off as it feel less rigid and more laid back). When our friends arrived we were taken upstairs to our tables. We were told the 2nd floor of the restaurant took over a renovated apartment and it is exactly what it felt like. It was a fluid feel of the warm coziness from downstairs.
(photos courtesy of SeriousEats.com) What I would choose from Back Forty West for my perfect WHOLEsome meal? The appetizers and the dessert! For the appetizers we had the Pork Face Nuggets which weren’t very greasy and had lots of flavor; the Slow Smoked BBQ Ribs which a perfect slight smoked by their in-house smoker; and The Kale Escarole Salad (less the anchovies) which was a Caesar salad alternative and a perfect complement to our smoked appetizers. For dessert, we had the Heirloom Navel Orange Upside Down Cake – a light citrus cake that settled your stomach as it perfectly contradicted the sweet smoked meats that we had consumed. In an effort to not be too negative, I will only add that the main entrees just didn’t live up to what we experienced with the appetizers and we should have stayed with the apps and drinks (to note: they have their own in-house brewer as well).
Saturday: Another set of friends come over for dinner with their 28 month old son so we figured it would be best to cook. Ok well I didn’t cook, Jayson did, but I did help 🙂
The piece de resistance of the entire weekend of eating is what my husband made for us and our guests Saturday night. Jayson made Spicy Orange Shrimp over a healthy Vegetable Fried (Brown) Rice with steamed broccoli. It was so good, not only were our friends impressed but we impressed ourselves! Comfort food on a chilly night without any of the guilt? How can you go wrong? The downside to this meal was that sometimes healthy is not always the tastiest. The healthy french fries that we made and the mini chocolate cake that we bought for dessert were just ok.
Sunday: Sunday I met a 3rd friend at Miss Lily’s for brunch and some good ol fashion girl time.
Miss Lily’s embodied its Jamaican Caribbean theme from the moment we opened the front door. From the hostess whom lead you inside to a diner-esq ambiance which reminds you of a Tiki bar on the beach playing Jamaican Caribbean music. Immediately we forgot that we were on West Houston on a 50 degree cold Sunday afternoon. My friend ordered an egg, potato and toast dish and I ordered a Jerk chicken salad – both basic but enjoyable. What stood out was the Grilled Jerk Corn which was topped with melted spicy sweet butter and toasted coconut. YUM! The last addition to this fabricated fabulous meal would the corn as a side dish, for sure.
One final thought. If you are hating on this weather and wish you were closer to the equator, check out Radio Lily, their internet radio station. It will help transport you to that warm place.