Originally I made my reservation at Butter for Restaurant Week but since they were closed for the evening due to construction, they moved my reservation over to The Darby. The Darby is the newest restaurant opened by the Butter Group which also operates Butter, 1Oak and The Darby Downstairs. The restaurant is 1930s themed and features a live band each night on the built in stage. The Darby has gotten a bad rep for being an overly expensive mediocre restaurant that’s all about the scene but serves sub-par food and for the most part I believed everything I was hearing. Normally entrees are about $35 and on the weekends there is a $25 cover (per person) in addition to the already high priced entrees and appetizers. Then The Darby got some more bad press for having a $2 ice charge for all drinks served on the rocks which even I must admit is a bit absurd. However, though it is not advertised, The Darby is participating in Restaurant Week and does offer a three course pre-fixe menu for $35. Once you first walk into the space, it does seem a bit cheap and touristy. The red walls and sliver laced ceiling only look appealing once the stage is all lit up and the performers arrive. But of course, what makes The Darby work is its live entertainment. On the night I went Kate Manning performed 1930s songs alongside her band and I must say, all of the performers were quite talented.
The menu is simple American food that one would get at an expensive steakhouse such as Oysters and the famous 30 Oz Tomahawk Steak. Like I stated earlier, the menu is incredibly expensive even for the area and don’t expect to leave The Darby without spending at least $100 per person. However during Restaurant Week, the $35 pre-fixe menu was a great bargain considering you get three courses for the price of one entree off the normal menu. Not only was the menu discounted but there were actually normally high priced items on this discounted menu as well such as the $21 Half Dozen Oysters and the $38 Blackened Shrimp. To start I did get those Half Dozen Oysters and then the Flank Steak as an entree. To be honest, from all the bad things I heard about The Darby I was expecting food poisoning from those oysters but to my surprise they were actually some of the best oysters I have had in New York. All of the oysters were big, flavorful and, most importantly, fresh. The chili dipping sauce added a refreshing flavor to the oysters as well. The Flank Steak was well cooked however the meat was seasoned a bit too much. The pepper could be smelled from across the room but the quality of the steak was this dish’s saving grace. The Strawberry Shortcake was also a great way to end the dish as it was sweet but the tart flavors of the raspberry sorbet balanced the sweetness of the cream and strawberries.
I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I did enjoy my dinner at The Darby. While normally it may be to expensive for what it is, the $35 pre-fixe menu is one of the best bargains in the city. The live music is also something different that you normally don’t get to experience in the Meatpacking District or in most other trendy neighborhoods for that matter. The food is much better than the disaster everyone else makes this place out to be and the performances help make the dinner a fun experience. Even at their high prices, I’d recommend trying The Darby out at least once even if it’s not during their Restaurant Week promotion.