“…I was content watching the real-life live stream of all the prep, nosed-pressed against the pane like a kid at a Christmas display…”
In all honesty, this was an accidental burger.
Yep, you heard us. Having just blundered into, and then plastic-massacred, a Levi’s sale on Broadway, we’d decided to reward ourselves with some krazy mac ‘n cheese concoctions at the Mac Bar. But we’d fallen foul of the nemesis of every tourist, the bathroom. It didn’t have one. For one of our party, that was a total deal breaker. SoHo, having such culinary density, meant it was easily salvageable as we’d passed the dinky sibling of Back Forty moments earlier, so we legged it the couple of blocks back. Did it have a bathroom? Fuck yes it did. We were straight in…
From their own mission statement, The Back Fortys are unashamedly ‘organic and responsibly sourced’ locavore joints.
Wait… Locavore? WTF?
Hugely prevalent in places like Portland and San Francisco in the States, it’s the predilection of restaurants and regular folks alike to use locally sourced ingredients. Think Farmers’ Markets and you’re heading the right way (but not too far). Back Forty West is all over this shit: their bacon is from Brooklyn-based Heritage Farms, and buns are from a bakery on the Upper East Side. You could probably ask what the hoof size of cow you’ll be eating was and they would answer you sans irony. The ethic runs throughout, even all the sauces are homemade. You want Heinz or French’s? Tough shit.
It’s pretty snug inside this almost-bistro feeling restaurant, with only a few tables and seats at the bar. We were put on a table with a window into the kitchen, which was brilliant and I was content watching the real-life live stream of all the prep, nosed-pressed against the pane like a kid at a Christmas display. It also served to help me announce with some hand-clapping elation that our food was the next to come out.
Topped with generous slices of pickled cucumber, the greenery next to the burger looked like the kind of token side salad you’d get drizzled with balsamic:
“Are you supposed to put it in? I guess so. But, I can see the balsamic vinegar just over there? Screw it, it’s going in.”
The hefty-balled patty is exemplary – with an ever-so-charred meaty film encasing terrific pink innards. And it’s ensconced in a just-slightly over toasted, but cushiony potato roll, not the best example of it’s kind in this neighbourhood, but great all the same - happy to handle a hefty squeeze and not become a dense lump of matter. The cheddar was unevenly melted, but to its credit as it meant there were some soft, thick lumps giving extra gooiness to the odd mouthful. The sharpness was distracting, but not overly so.
The homemade ketchup threw out a deep, sun-dried tomato tang, and we really should have tried the hot Dijon-cum-English mustard before we threw it on with gay abandon. American mustard it was not. Whilst not bad, it always saddens that homemade sauces rarely match up to their staple counterparts in a burger.
What stuck about BFW was how familiarly British it felt. The parallels with places like Honest in London are easily evident: with great pride taken the local produce, and everything made with ‘artisan’ finesse.
Whilst not really within the realms of what we’d deem as the ideal burger, BFW’s patty and bun was plenty of compensation for the misgivings over the rest. If you’re stuck for a slash and fancy a burger near Broadway, it can’t hurt to try this place. Their booze selection looks pretty special too.