Apps Only: Back Forty

Apps Only

Seeking out the best bites for under $15 a head.

Editor's note: In "Apps Only," Ben Fishner will be eating his way through New York's appetizer, bar, and lounge menus as your guide to fine dining on a budget. He blogs at Ben Cooks Everything.


Coconut crusted rock shrimp at Back Forty. [Photos: Ben Fishner]

The idea for Apps Only came from a number of places, but it crystallized at the bar at Back Forty. I came for the great happy hour deal—half price drinks from 6-8pm, Monday-Thursday—but lingered over fried squid, Greenmarket-driven salads, and the occasional pork shoulder slider. I've been going back regularly ever since. It became clearer to me there that you could eat your way around the city's best restaurants without ever ordering an entree. So when I decided that it was time to write my last Apps Only review, it seemed fitting to do so at Back Forty.

For me, the action on Back Forty's menu all lies in its snacks, starters, and sides. The Cocunut Crusted Rock Shrimp ($12) were lightly battered and served with a tangy lime aioli. The shrimp here were perfectly cooked, not fried until rubbery, and ten bucks buys a bowl big enough to split among three or four people.


Bacon and trotter flatbread.

The Crispy Bacon and Trotter Flatbread ($8) might be the best value on the menu: a grilled flatbread, made from lard dough, is topped with fatty, gelatinous trotter meat and crispy, salty bacon along with creamy onions. This veritable pork explosion is a bar snack of the highest order.


Hearty green salad.

The Hearty Green Salad ($10) rounded out our meal. A perfect salad, and a sizable one at that, it consists of spinach dressed in a vinaigrette made with Banyuls, a desert wine, and topped with paper-thin slices of radish, puffed wheatberries, and Cabot clothbound cheddar cheese. This humble salad speaks to what Back Forty does so well in nearly all of its dishes; it is thoughtful, original, yet simple. And it's delicious. The puffed wheatberries (who knew?) add crunch and an earthiness that complements the spinach, while the cheese adds a layer of decadence that's just right—not over the top in the slightest.

Back Forty is the perfect place to sit at the bar, have a few drinks, and cobble together a meal of small plates. The menu is constantly changing with the whims of the Greenmarket, and so the selections never get stale. Soon the fried shrimp might be replaced with fried clams or fried oysters, but you know it will still be delicious. The staff is friendly, the selection of beer on tap is top notch, and the prices are more than reasonable. In short, it's the perfect Apps Only spot. Go grab a seat at the bar, won't you?

Back Forty

190 Avenue B, New York NY 10009 (map)

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