Mon-Thu, 8:30am-10pm; Fri, 8:30am-10:30pm; Sat, 10:30am-10:30pm; Sun, 10:30am-6pm
N, R at Prince St.; 6 at Spring St.; B, D, F, M at Broadway-Lafayette St.
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The New York farm-to-table pioneer Peter Hoffman was serving locavore delicacies like roast guinea hen and rhubarb pie at his seminal Soho restaurant, Savoy, back when most of today’s fashionable Brooklyn cooks were still gobbling Twinkies in grade school. In 2011, however, Hoffman closed Savoy and decided to recast the prim little bandbox space on Prince Street in the image of his more populist East Village restaurant, Back Forty. Back Forty West, has a longer bar to accommodate members of the mixologist set, a communal dining table upstairs designed to facilitate the consumption of a whole range of folksy, casually trendy southern dishes (slow-smoked pork ribs, smoked chicken leg and thigh, fried “pork face” nuggets served with tomatillo jam), and a clean, carefully rusticated décor featuring slats of distressed antique millwork pulled from an old Shaker barn. Judging by the swarms of eager customers who were jammed into the little space on the evenings I visited, these innovations seem to have worked almost too well. The downstairs bar area fills up early, so ask to sit upstairs, where you can enjoy a cocktail and a helping of the tender, well-smoked house chicken leg in relative peace. Many of the retro-comfort dishes I sampled (chalk-dry ribs, slightly burned pork nuggets, a desiccated grass-fed burger garnished with grimly sweet housemade ketchup) had a retread, assembly-line quality to them. But if you focus on the enduring barnyard seasonal classics—summer-pea soup dabbed with crème fraîche, pink slices of grilled lamb garnished with a spoonful of chunky Romesco, wedges of tart, crumbly crusted lemon pie—it’s possible, late on a peaceful summer evening, to conjure up the glories of the old Savoy.