In a neighborhood full of heaping plate entrees-under-$10, Back Forty makes a somewhat daring entry onto Avenue B (near 12th Street) with its a la carte style menu featuring chef-and-market driven dinner fare. Back Forty’s website describes itself as a place “meant to be comfortable for a quick bite before a movie, an easy meal for a collection of friends or a simple family meal. It’s dinner not a dining experience.” Dining experience--if by that they mean one-of-a-kind, certainly not--but on a recent rainy night, we found ourselves there for over two hours, swallowing up comforting décor of warm lighting and myriad antiques, and walked away from a pleasant and enjoyable meal.

We settled into a table in the back room of the three-room—and started with glasses of Six Point Brownstone beer, one of five varieties available either as draft or cask (served at room temperature). Beers range from $5 - $8.50, and cocktails, including the signature “The Back Forty” (george dickel, maple, lemon) are all $10. Beverages are pricey for the neighborhood, but the selection is more adventurous. Wines are available both by the glass and bottle, with an eclectic list of European varietals, denoted as sustainable, organic, biodynamic, and local on the menu when qualified.

The menu—only dinner at this point—is divided into three sections: snacks, from the garden, and the core. Our waiter recommended starting with the Red Maine Shrimp & Bacon Beignets, a generous serving of six fried balls of mainly dough, with fresh shrimp, but only a slightly detectable hint of bacon. Better, was the piping hot half rotisserie chicken, doused in Back Forty Spice Rub ($16) and big enough to serve two if sharing entrees. The chicken arrives with crisp skin, and moist meat, but sans sides that most of us have come to expect.

Sharing turns out to be key at Back Forty, and the best way to sample the ways that chef-owner Peter Hoffman is taking advantage of seasonal ingredients. The blue crab roll, pricey at $18 considering its small size, is a variation on the lobster roll—made here as a mayonnaise, mustard, and celery flavored cold salad, and served on a warm buttered challah roll. Tasty, but not exactly memorable, we recommend adding a side of the french fries with rosemary sea salt for $5. For dessert, we tried the homemade apple-cider doughnuts with a maple glaze, three skinny ringlets that were surprisingly cold; we’ll go for the seasonal pie next time.

Though self-touted as a “burger joint,” the grass fed burger is only one point on a slightly more upscale addition to Alphabet City (neighbors can argue whether that's a good or bad thing). For quality and flavor, we have few complaints (cold doughnuts), because we know that getting local, organic, and sustainable ingredients while they are in season pushes prices up. We’re hoping that with the expansion of their menu (brunch starts this weekend), and a focus on a repertoire that lives up to the changing of the seasons, Back Forty will find a more solid footing and consistency moving forward.

Back Forty is located at 190 Avenue B (at 12th Street); 212.388.1990.