THE NEW 'BACKYARD' RESTAURANT FEATURING GOURMET KOSHER FOOD OPENS WITH GREAT RESPONSE!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

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Many months ago I wrote a very excited article about the news of a new venture by Mr. Offy Shifman, one of my favorite purveyors of gourmet Kosher food. It was rumored to be a BBQ restaurant named The Backyard, with opening date still unconfirmed, but my taste budsbegan percolating enough to prompt a blog.

Well, it finally arrived, with glowing reports that were precisely as I thought they'd be.  My brother's family, and mine made certain to get there from Woodstock and New York City respectively as soon as we was could go to Southern Florida.

Of course, the place was packed to the gills so I waited in line with my party of five ravenous people. I was teetering on high heels and while trying to distract my attention from from my feet, and growling tummy,  I stared at the menu and then, longingly, at the happy patrons devouring their food inside the restaurant.

The new 'Backyard' is located right in the heart of Surfside /Bal Harbor, on Harding Avenue, in an area convenient to all, in the heart of Miami Beach. The fact it is Glatt Kosher, makes it very attractive to the milleau of observant Jews who live in the area, or the 'Snowbirds' heading to the sunshine state during high the cold seasons.

As I mentioned earlier, The Backyard's mastermind and owner, Offy Shifman, is a foodie extraordinaire, master menu designer and chef of the gastronomic offerings of the premier luxury kosher travel and leisure company, Kosherica. The company offers cruises and a great many events (Passover etc), over which Mr. Offy Shifman presides as food maven, no small task undoubtedly. Despite this, he decided to follow his dream of opening a brand new kind of Kosher restaurant.

The kosher community never had a chance to experience food cooked in authentic Texas style, with interesting, gourmet touches added to it.

The restaurant, sports a 36 square foot kitchen and a 10 foot wood burning smoke house Offy Shifman has already created a gastronomic niche, using his immense creativity to provide the very best in dining experience, to a segment of the populace previously having to make do with second rate dining.

Up until a few years back, people who ate only Glatt Kosher food had few options.

Most of these restaurants were small dreary places,(with the exception of a few very expensive, but lackluster Kosher restaurants in NYC)  offering a limited menu, all of which which lacked inspiration and panache. Observant Jews had to make do with the monotony of eating at home, day in and day out, even when the occasion warranted an evening out for a celebratory meal.

Those days are mercifully over and many overworked cooks are relieved to take a well deserved break from the daily grind of cooking for the family.

Here is where I'll mention that Mr. Shifman doesn't just cook, but rather creates gastronomic magic.  He is in fact what I would call an inspired, highly passionate Super Chef.

His passion for cooking and feeding guests incredible quality and variety meals is unparalleled and legendary.

Now we are talking true passion for creating inspired food, possessing exquisite taste buds and a gastronomic creativity, which he makes into an art form.

You can tell by now that I'm bubbling with excitement, and with good reason Offy is the man in charge of feeding the masses of travelers who cruise the world with his family&rsquos company, Kosherica. His Father, Yehuda Shifman, his sister Hilit, and a slew of highly dedicated employees, have been working (very) successfully to create the best travel and vacation events for the observant Jewish community.

From inception, the company has been providing the best in kosher fare, Haute Gourmetofferings, all of which were dreamt up and designed by the younger Mr. Shifman, Offy. 

At their yearly Passover and Sukkoth retreats, which happen all at once in multiple luxury resorts world wide, cater to snow/sun/golf  fanatics who wish to enjoy leisure with Yiddishkeit. Mr. Shifman personally supervises the food at all these venues, which sell out months ahead and have become a tradition for a great many observant Jews. Of course on each of the many Kosher cruises the company offers, he's been the man behind a vast array of menus, personally doing the picking and purchase of the most spectacular cuts of meat, fish and fowl, the freshest  vegetables and fruits, creating new dishes, assisted by Michelin starred chefs and pastry chefs of world acclaim.

I've been fortunate to be close to Offy Shifman, and have seen him on many occasions creating his own recipes, cooking for family and friends just for the pleasure he takes in it.

I have never tasted anything less than scrumptious, when the food was prepared or dreamt up by him.

The most amazing thing about all this, is the fact that the food is Glatt Kosher, yet tastes as good or better than the best fare at the top secular restaurants. This is confirmed by a great many people who have no dietary restrictions and have dined in both, like the food critic for the Times who was invited to dinner at Offy&rsquos home.

I happened to be present just then, and the memory of the meal is still stored on my taste buds.  The rave reviews of the fearsome critic, who's known to criticise and find fault with most establishments, is also a thing of beauty I'll remember, as I gloated in my host's reflected glory. 

On that occasion, Offy served the most succulent veal with mushroom and wine sauce, tiny new potatoes and vegetables cooked to perfection. Desert was a merengue filled with non dairy ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

Sheer perfection, from A to Z.

At the Backyard, the down home food served up is just as impressive, despite being far less frilly. But since the man can cook everything with amazing talent, The Backyard's menu is simple yet memorable.

When we finally got seated, the service was impeccable and my tender, perfectly prepared steak, accompanied by a melange of vegetables and rice, was touched by genius. My dining partners were oohing and aahing over their various orders, just as much as I. Presentation was flawless, flavors simple, uncomplicated and reminded me once again of the verity of what my Grandma used to say: "The secret spice in great cooking is Love".

I had little room left for desert, but I wasn&rsquot about to leave without a bite from the scrumptious delights my dining partners ordered. Everything I tasted was flawless, with palate caressing flavors, unpretentious and were the superb finishing touch to a Glatt Kosher,Texas style BBQ meal...Yee-Haw!

I don't know how Mr. Shifman does it, but the Rabbis who work as Mashgichim in his kitchen, praise his mastery and ethics. And all this w/o the histrionics of many a diva chef, but rather a smile on his face, and a caring attention to all his guests, whether paying or his lucky private circle diners.

He told me the idea of a gourmet Kosher restaurant has been brewing in his head since his early youth, and I declare myself fortunate to be around when the dream became reality.

Imagine a place, filled with beauty and atmosphere, excellent music playing in the background, competent and polite waiters serving up steaming plates of comfort Glatt Kosher food. The menu focuses on barbecued, grilled or smoked prime cuts of meat, fish or a variety of fowl, deliciously marinated served with accouterments to tempt the palate, side dishes that blend fusion and a style unique to the brilliantly talented Mr.Shifman. They also  an array of after dinner deserts (irresistible).

When we finally got seated, I noticed the serving staff was knowledgable and friendly, the fragrance from the kitchen delicious and when my order arrived, it looked beautiful. The steak I ordered was  tender, impeccably prepared and was accompanied by a melange of vegetables and rice, was genius. My dining partners were oohing and aahing over their various orders, just as much as I. Presentation was flawless, flavors simple, uncomplicated yet exquisitely satisfying. The meal reminded me once again of the verity of what my Grandma used to say: "The secret spice in great cooking is Love".

I had little room left for desert, but I wasn&rsquot about to leave without a bite from the scrumptious delights my dining partners ordered. Everything I tasted was flawless, with palate caressing flavors, unpretentious and were the superb finishing touch to a Glatt Kosher,Texas style BBQ meal...Yee-Haw!

I believe I saw that a section of the restaurant was designated for sport's fans, who can munch on delicacies as they're watching their favorite team.

The time has come for a place of this caliber, which will cater to the discerning Kosher foodie, providing a presently non existent kind of Glatt Kosher restaurant.

With it's casual elegance,The Backyard is be ideal place for an out with the boys/ girls, a family outing,business meeting or a romantic rendezvous for couples wishing to enjoy one another while savoring truly great food&hellip no jacket or tie required.

All I can say the arrival of this new venture was more than worth the wait, and the crowds who keep pouring in seem to be in complete agreement with me.





Disclaimer: Cruise Kosher suggests the top Kosher Cruise Agents and is not responsible for bookings made with those companies.

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