For the last two weeks I've been walking by a new restaurant in Downtown Crossing called Back Deck. I noticed it immediately because all of its windows are open to the street. As my regular readers know, I am all about the prime people watching spots.
Last week I went with a friend to Back Deck after work. As you approach the restaurant you notice the giant grilling spatula above the windows.
The entrance to the restaurant is on West Street, across the street from Max & Dylan's.
The spatula decor continues on the handle to the front door. Very cute!
The inside of the restaurant does the name of the place justice. It feels exactly like sitting on someone's back deck.
The far end of the restaurant is the one that faces Washington Street. You can see the sun shining in through the front windows.
Over the booths there are light fixtures that look like little, illuminated tiki huts. How perfect for the back deck theme!
We settled into a table in the window and our friendly and bubbly waitress appeared with the drink and dinner menus. The uniform at Back Deck is blue and white gingham shirts for the girls and green and white gingham shirts for the boys. To me, gingham is a classic summer print and an excellent choice for this venue.
We spent quite a bit of time reviewing the cocktail menu. Eventually, my dinner date decided on the Berkshire Summer cocktail. It arrived in a perfect shade of cucumber green, which happened to match her manicure! She said the drink was refreshing and exactly what she wanted.
I decided on the West Street Cooler which was Aperol and fresh chunks of watermelon. I love watermelon and tend to gravitate towards drinks that feature it, especially the real fruit, not just syrup.
The drink came in a tall, pint glass with three pieces of watermelon skewered by a mini sword. I wanted to love the drink, but it tasted like black licorice. And not in a good way. I physically shuddered when I took the first sip.
Our waitress, who was amazing, spotted my full drink and came by to see how I liked it. I confessed that it wasn't what I was expecting and that it was pretty undrinkable. With zero hesitation she whisked it away and demanded to know what else she could bring me.
After much consideration, I went with the Arnold Palmer cocktail. When it arrived, I took a big sip and nearly choked on the bourbon. Strike two.
Our waitress popped by again to see how I liked the new drink and I felt horrible admitting this one wasn't great either. Normally when I overhear this kind of interaction going on at another table I roll my eyes. I was mortified to have become "that girl."
This time, our waitress asked what I normally like in a cocktail. I described my usual ingredients and we both agreed I should try the Cape Cod Fizz, which is vodka, cranberry and lime. This drink wasn't amazing, but it certainly was the best one yet. Our waitress was my hero. She was willing to do anything to make sure I had a positive experience.
After the drink fiasco was resolved, we could finally focus on the food. We decided to start with the smoked, creamy eggplant dip. I was expecting chopped eggplant mixed in with cheese, but it turned out to be a smooth puree of cheese with dashes of eggplant. It was fantastic! This is one of the best appetizers I've had in a while. Anywhere.
The dip was so good that even after we finished the pita triangles, we kept eating the dip on its own with our forks. Classy, I know.
For her entree, my friend ordered the lamb skewer which came topped with yogurt sauce. She said the meat was moist and the yogurt sauce was exactly the right amount and a great compliment to the dish.
She ate about 75% of the skewer and proclaimed, "I am going to save this last bit for tomorrow. I'll make some couscous and put this right on top!"
I had significantly less choices on the vegetarian front. I had checked out Back Deck's menu earlier in the day and on the lunch menu they had three incredible sounding varieties of grilled cheese. Those sandwiches weren't on the dinner menu, but I was hoping they would make an exception.
I asked our waitress if the grilled cheese sandwiches I'd seen could be ordered for dinner (you know, testing my limits with her to the absolute max) and she pouted and said, "I'm so sorry, but this is our first week open and we're really trying to stick to the menu items as they are listed. Hopefully in a few weeks our kitchen can take customs orders, but not quite yet."
With grilled cheese off the table, I decided to order the garden salad with the green goddess dressing. The dressing was yummy, but the salad was definitely missing something. I wish it had something more - cheese, croutons, avocado - just a little something extra.
All of the things we had ordered were simply a lead up to why we really came: dessert. We had seen earlier in the day that the signature dessert at Back Deck was s'mores.
When our waitress came by to ask if we'd like to see the dessert menu, we dove right in with the questions, "We hear you have s'mores. Tell us more." We were hoping the s'mores would be the kind you could cook yourself at the table (like Cosi in Union Square in New York City), but unfortunately, we learned they are pre-made.
We'd been looking forward to this all day, so went ahead with the s'mores anyway. Back Deck's s'more is a housemade graham cracker sandwiching an espresso infused marshmallow and an entire Hershey's chocolate bar.
The graham cracker was cakey as opposed to crumbly. As such, the s'more stuck a bit more to the roof of your mouth. The espresso marshmallow was the star of the dish. That subtle hint of coffee took each bite to the next level. The Hershey bar melted out the sides of the sandwich, smudging across your fingers and giving you a reason to lick them in public.
In addition to the s'more, we also ordered a bowl of Toscanini's ice cream in the flavor called Drunkend 3 Musketeers. This ice cream was out of this world! There were 1/2 inch thick pieces of 3 Musketeers and the ice cream was pumped up with bourbon. Though I hated bourbon in my cocktail, I loved it here!
Despite the cocktail disappointment and the limited vegetarian options, I really loved our experience at Back Deck. The vibe in the restaurant is very relaxing. Our waitress was thoughtful, attentive and honestly, generous. The smoked, creamy eggplant is so crave-able that I am already thinking about when I can have it again.
Visit Back Deck at 2 West Street in Downtown Crossing.