ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT! A mantra I should know by now living with an ex-lawyer for plenty years. I must admit I don’t. I’m careless with receipts (if I keep them at all - I hate paper!), I don’t read store policies about returns or exchanges and I most certainly don’t read the little asterisks on the bottom of menus because I just assume I don’t need too; I don’t have any nut allergies.
The Darby, an opulent open cool former club space, is dramatic to say the least. Even the doors that greet you tells you right off the bat that this is a no-joke-real-deal type of evening experience - not necessarily eating experience. The restaurant, or “supper club,” (how the NY Times refers to it), has an outrageously lush aesthetic that is as deep and rich as red velvet (the fabric and the sweet). There is a six-piece house band that includes some strong jazzy singers that will entertain you for an added $25.00 per head on weekends as you drink from an extensive snazzy drink list (most drinks are unpriced!) and dine on main entrees starting in the low thirties or the raw bar that will run you 100 plus. Once you are drunk enough to let loose and realize that this month’s paycheck will be given up to this institution, you can sit back and enjoy the ride or in this case, the short show.
The band is quite talented and they know it as they take frequent breaks and play three songs a go. In our three-hour dining experience we heard the band two times (when they began at 8, which were the first three songs) and then again later in the evening with another 3 songs. That’s a lot of dough for 6 songs. Although, liquored up and giddy, my gal pal and I did particularly enjoy their rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s Time after Time. There was live food as well in all of this… our table ordered shrimp cocktail, the Burrata and tuna tartare apps to start. As mains, the guys had mediocre filets while the gals enjoyed nice size well seasoned swordfish steaks under a bed of greens and pine nuts. Brussels sprouts and three cheese mac ‘n cheese were ordered as sides. Unfortunately many of the details escape me because the drinks were so strong and so expensive that we felt compelled to keep drinking them, which in turn left me to forget about the food and divulge in other things - in fact, way too much.
But you don’t come to this restaurant to eat, despite what the Food Network Chefs will say is the focus of the restaurant (THE FOOD), you come to see and hear and hopefully be seen and be heard. You come to the Darby to feel sexy, to feel like the 20-something single you used to be. You come to the Darby to see an old flame or meet a new one. You come to The Darby to say you’ve been to The Darby. You come to the Darby to forget about the fine print for a little and just kick back and have some fun. Some nights are just like that. 244 West 14th Street | Between 7th and 8th Avenues (212) 242-4411