What can you tell us about Darby's?
The main thing is that it's the latest restaurant from the people behind The Dairy, Robin and Sarah Gill. They're backed up by Dean Parker, a chef who's been with them at The Dairy, The Manor and Sorella. Here's the restaurant is definitely on the fancier side when compared to its forebearers - plush booths, huge terrace and an impressive high ceiling. It has a little more in common (from a looks perspective) with a Caprice or a Corbin and King restaurant.
Where is it?
It's in the new development called Embassy Gardens - so named because it's right next door to the US embassy and its huge moat water feature. That water extends as far as Darby's which has a stream and stepping stones in front of it (surely only a matter of time before someone falls in - it'll probably be us).
It's about a 10-minute walk from Vauxhall station - at the moment that walk is beside the dual carriageway but when the development is completed, there will be a much nicer walkway from the station that's reminiscent of NYC's High Line.
And there's something about a suspended pool?
It hasn't been built at the time of writing, but what's destined to be "London's most Instagrammable pool" is opening on the top floor - a completely transparent pool hanging between two buildings. It should be amazing (while at the same time not for anyone who has problems with heights). When that's built, Darby's will also be in charge of the food there - planning something with barbecue, and there will be a secret entrance to the pool through the restaurant. Definitely one to watch.
Where should we go for a drink first?
On the way to or from Darby's, there's one clear option to recommend - Brunswick House. We have to admit that we've never been to this Jackson Boxer restaurant and had an "oh, that's where it is" moment as we walked past. It's a perfect place to drop in for a drink and a snack - the ham hock crumpet was pretty amazing.
But you should also get to Darby's in time to try the bar before you sit down - about half the space of the restaurant is devoted to the bar area. Their cocktails are pretty damned good too - we had an excellent pineapple daiquiri as well as the above Guinness old fashioned. Pair that with the following snacks to kick off your night here...
Where should we sit?
You can head to the bar counter if you like a bit of counter dining - the best seats here are at the oyster bar, where all the oyster shucking is happening. There are a couple of booths near the open kitchen if you fancy keeping an eye on the action, and in good weather, the terrace seats are going to be much-prized.
And what about the food?
We've mentioned the snack and oysters above, but also in this section are some cured meats and fish. The Dairy is well known for its curing prowess, so if you haven't been down to Clapham yet, you should try a few things from this section of the menu. The truffled arancini (£2 for 2) sounds like a good bet.
As for the rest of the menu, it's a standard three-course affair, the pasta starters can be served main-sized too. The mains are primarily grilled meat or fish. The blackfaced lamb and the Highland beef short-rib sounds pretty good, and while we were visiting, there were specials of a whole turbot (£70) and a 1kg Highland rib on the bone (£78).
Here's what we had on the night:
And save room for dessert?
Absolutely. As you see from above, we may have gone a little carb-heavy, so it might be worth tempering that yourselves as there are some crackers in the dessert section. We were strongly tempted by the malted barley affogato with Tia Maria milk (£7.50) which still sounds pretty damned good - but in the end, we went for...
How about drinks?
The house wine starts at £21 for a carafe (that's a Trebianno or a Sangiovese). There are plenty of options between £30 and £40, with wines split under headings like "easy and harmonious", "offbeats" and "iconic". But they're more than prepared to point you in the right direction if you ask.
And overall thoughts?
If you're lucky enough to be living in Embassy Gardens, then you've got one hell of a local restaurant and bakery downstairs - we are extremely envious. If you're travelling to Darby's, you'll find a lovely room with a great vibe serving up the kind of food that the Dairy team have become famed for. And it's only going to get better as the rest of Embassy Gardens gets finished off. All this and a proper pint of Guinness make Darby's a winner in our mind.
Hot Dinners ate as guests of Darby's. Prices are correct at the time of writing.
More about Darby's
Where is it? 3 Viaduct Gardens Road, Embassy Gardens, London, SW11 7AY
How to book; via their website
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