Exclusive! Photos from Backals in Scarsdale

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<br>The place to be in Westchester last night was the opening party for Backals, the restaurant that took over the building where the Heathcote Tavern was — at the Four Corners in Scarsdale.

The place has been completely redone — no more Persian carpets and lounge-y couches. Instead, owners Arthur Backal and Tony Fortuna went with a modern look: Installing a wall of wine at the entrance, a glass mosiac floor and a swoop of fabric over a new entranceway. It feels like a big party, which is appropriate, because Arthur is the founder and CEO of The Backal Hospitality Group and State of the Art, an event company in Manhattan. Check out the tent of fabric:

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<br>Just before the party started, Arthur took us on a tour.

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A videographer followed us. It was a little unnerving.

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<br>The wall of wine greets you.

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<br>The sunken dining room has a glass mosaic floor and Philippe Stark chairs.

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The chairs definitely sparked the most conversation at the party. Either you like them (I did) or you didn’t. But I wonder how they’ll be once people are sitting in them? What if the people don’t quite, well, fit?
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The “curtainsâ€? are a nice touch. Metal rings…

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The fabric on the banquette is tres chic, too.

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The chandelier is dripping with crystals.

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What’s really cool about the restuarant are all the little nooks and crannies you can dine in.

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This table is Arthur’s favorite. It’s on a mezzainine above the dining room, which you can see in the photo above to the left of the window.

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A table on a balcony on the other side of the room has the best view in the house.

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I can’t believe I never knew about the Monkey Room before. It’s behind that second floor balcony in the turret of the building. I nominate it for coolest private party room in Westchester. Check out these murals.

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Here, Arthur and my colleague Matt are discussing how the room is “perfect for a cognac and a cigar.� (Excuse the blur.)

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After the tour, Matt and I took two stools at the bar and sampled some of the food: bacon-wrapped scallops; filet mignon on toast points; grilled ham and cheese, and crab with truffles.

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I’m looking forward to trying the menu. Here’s a copy for you to peruse. Let me know what you think!

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

12 Comments

  1. Jeanne Muchnick on

    Great blog, Liz, though I’m bummed I didn’t get a shout-out! (maybe next time?) LOVE the blurry monkey room photos — and your comments about the chairs. Curious how you think the food stacks up when you go for a test-run. Let me know. It’s down the street from my house. Fun hanging with you and Matt!

    Jeanne

  2. Jeanne! Sorry for dropping the ball on not mentioning we saw you. By that time, as you know, the camera was put away.
    I’ll let you know about the food!

  3. Thanks so much for posting the menu! I didn’t get to make it to the opening party, but I’m dying to go for dinner soon. Thanks to you, I’ve already got my order all planned out.

  4. Buck Finkelstein on

    The service was attentive and thorough.
    The food was pedestrian. For example, the wiener schnitzel consisted of two slices of breaded fried veal and a portion of string beans; no capers or other garnish (other than difficult to squeeze lemon slices) of any kind on the plate, and the veal itself was undistinguished, maybe even dry. Moreover, the menu was notably unimaginative.
    And the chairs! They are too narrow for the typical adult and too hard and flat. At least hard seated chairs should be formed to fit the human bottom; these were not.
    We sat upstairs where the ceiling is low but at least our table for four was larger than the small tables in the larger (and nicer) downstairs dining room with the vaulted ceilings.

  5. Susan Goldberger on

    Back from our first dinner at Backals and appalled at the lack of good service. Upon making reservations, I received a return phone call inquiring whether I had reserved for Friday or Saturday night. I could not reserve our desired time and arrived a half hour earlier yet several tables remained vacant during our stay.

    Waitstaff did not know who had ordered what. The food, though very tasty, arrived tepid and had to be sent back for re-heating. Even the coffee was lukewarm. Not once were we asked if everything was OK or if we needed anything else.

    It appears that the staff here is still working out the kinks and needs a lot more training to justify the prices being charge. When the room filled up it was very noisy.

  6. Heathcote-Goer on

    Being a major Heathcote goer for years, I am disappointed at the old place closing but nevertheless, thrilled when the new restaurant opened. I will say, It is not Heathcote Tavern. I am not overly impressed by the menu– The renovations make is not cozy at all– and the many men walking around in suits are unnecessary! I did hear though, that the owners of HT are looking in to opening up in Tuckahoe, near the train station in the old Rockwells…..Liz, have you heard anything????

  7. I think I’ll reserve judgment until I eat there. I used to eat at the Heathcote, but see no reason to follow them. Let these guys get the kinks ironed out and we’ll see. Meantime, you can always cook for yourself. Forbidden!

  8. We ate there tonight, excited by the NY Times review. Disappointed… Food and service average, price not. Menu pedestrian. You can do better, but you can’t pay more.

    Cheers, Al

  9. I did find the chair uncomfortable for my lower back problem.I thought you have done a spectacular job turning the place into a SHOW RESTAURANT! We were ther last night – a Sat. and the food was good and the service very good!

  10. Had dinner at Backals last night – and I never expect to return. We had a reservation for eight people made three weeks prior. We arrived on time and had to wait 45 minutes for our table. The table offered to us was not large enough 6, let alone 8. Requested a larger table – mind you we were being gracious. The manager was quite condescending to my husband. Finally seated at 9:30 at a slightly larger table – tight but we made do. None of the specials were available – due to the late hour (by the time we ordered it was getting on 10 pm). The food was subpar. Calamari was greasy and tasted of flour – obviously not enough care was taken in its preparation. Shrimp and lobster risotto was undercooked and it was hard to find any seafood. Drinks were ordered and not delivered. Besides my husband talking to the manager about the table problems – we made no fuss, but we were later told that they were close to throwing us out. The overall experience was unpleasant – the staff, almost to a person, treated the patrons in a most superior manner. We had every right to be upset but we kept our cool and their treatment of us was unacceptable.

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