The Back Forty Bar & Grill Farm to Fork — with Panache & Flavor
Just beyond Robesonia, on historic Stouchsburg’s Main Street, the Back Forty Bar & Grill opened over a year ago with a passionate singularity of focus: locally sourced foods. But that goal was just the beginning, according to husband-and-wife owners Chaz and Megan Lehman. In love with Pennsylvania’s agriculture and farms, this pair set out to build a restaurant with an impeccably thoughtful, eco-friendly, community-connected, stunningly delicious menu.
The Lehmans decided, for instance, to set the taste bar as high as possible by making hamburgers with 50 percent sirloin and 50 percent brisket. The end result? A moist, meaty, charbroiled, heaven-sent burger on a light, fluffy, buttery brioche roll made in house. “Our burgers are second to none,” asserts Chaz. He’ll also tell you exactly where the ingredients came from (Stohler’s Meat Market, Schaefferstown).
The Barn Buster Burger is aptly named, loaded with pulled pork, bacon, smoked cheddar and Gouda, caramelized onions, and a fried egg.
As for the ribeye: “We cut them and cook them to order,” says Chaz.
The Delmonico, garnished by touches of parsley and chopped red bell peppers strewn on top, is so phenomenally tender, a butter knife is all you’ll need to cut it.
Revel in Gourmet Quality
Executive Chef Albert Sinisi is CIA-trained; the Executive Pastry Chef, Emily Krick, is a sought-after dessert master. Together with the kitchen crew, they bring to life a wide variety of offerings every bit as delectable as — or better than — those in the finest restaurants in major cities. That the Back Forty has a cozy, country setting is a terrific bonus — totally fitting for a farm-to-fork venue. But don’t be fooled by the quiet Main Street setting: you’re getting gourmet food in every bite.
It’s simple, explains Chaz: “We really focus on quality.” Evidently, that’s the tone for Back Forty in a nutshell, from the beer and cocktails to every appetizer, salad, entrée, side and dessert. And everything’s made right there. “The only thing we don’t make,” smiles Chaz, “is our ketchup.”
The bread basket alone is to die for. Krick’s warm, fresh-baked, herbed focaccia is divine with rosemary and garlic stirred into just-tart country butter.
Wings, Cheese Curds, Lobster Mac ’n Cheese Squares
Consider ordering a beer on tap as you’re selecting from the tempting list of appetizers, since, on any given night, you’ll find the likes of Firestone, Evil Genius, or even a Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, with its coffee/chocolate swallow and afterglow. Diners can always count on variety. “We’ll always have an IPA of sorts,” says Chaz, “and a stout — since we cook our onions down with stout.”
A lively cocktail with snap and gentle sizzle is Megan’s own creation, the Big Girl Shirley Temple — one of numerous enticingly original drinks.
If wings are your thing, get a pile — enough for the whole table to sample! This chef commandeers unforgettable jumbo wings. Try the smoked type, since the smokiness pervades the fatty-fried exteriors, while uber-tender, oh-so-fresh meaty interiors round out the very meaning of what a great wing should be. You can choose a flavor direction, of course, from mild to “screaming eagle hot,” but do try some Thai Chili wings, exotically sweet and spicy-hot at the same time.
For another addictive starter, there are tastily battered, breaded, and fried cheese curds, either Dill or Chocolate Habanero for a little kick, dipped in zesty homemade Ranch. The curds are sourced right at Way-Har Farms, a business widely known locally for ice cream but now, thanks to Back Forty, achieving a whole new level of stardom.
Not mentioning those juicy chunks of lobster melded into the cheesy pasta of the Lobster Mac ’n Cheese Squares would be a sin. This appetizer comes in a hearty portion, considering its richness. Careful, labor-intensive preparation makes this particular dish outstanding.
Chili, Surf, & More Turf
Important to know is that Megan, as a pescetarian, ensured the presence of scrumptious vegetarian and fish options for non-meat-eaters. In fact, her piquant Dragged through the Garden Chili, made “meaty” with crumbled textured soy, handily beats out beef chilis in formal competitions.
The real-meat Farmhouse Chili is also an award-winner, studded with steak cubes, smoked pork and peppers galore.
Fish lovers will praise the “clean flavors of fish” that Megan insists on, such as in the Grilled Faroe Island Salmon. Local trout from Lime Stone Springs, pan-fried, yields a lusciously moist result, where the fork’s tines slip easily under fleshy white morsels for that indescribably light trout taste. Accents of cranberries mix tartly with the natural sugar of julienned carrots; mashed red potatoes deliver an earthy, substantial balance.
The Twice-Fried (in butter) T-bone Steak, a 24-ounce beauty, literally melts in your mouth.