Last Night six of us went to Darby's Restaurant after seeing The Hours at the local theater. Needless to say, we all needed martinis to digest what we had just watched on the screen! Darby's is Belfast's only restaurant with a welcoming, casual pub-type atmosphere. It’s a restaurant about which you don't have to think about going you can just stop in for a burger and a beer. We all ordered drinks, 3 Cosmopolitans, 1 Manhattan, 1 vodka and 1 glass of wine. Strike one:We waited a bit for the drinks, but during the wait, we ordered and chatted about the movie. David got a bit restless about the drinks service because it took so long. We've all started to look at eateries with a critical eye since I started this site and since David and his wife, Sarah, are about to open a Tapas eatery/ bar in Belfast called Three Tides. Three Tides will be a wonderful place to eat outside on the deck overlooking the harbor. I have tremendous respect for David and Sarah and our friend Ben, all of whom are building this bar from the ground up, by themselves. It's been a long road to hoe, but the place will be ready for the summer rush.
While we were waiting for the drinks, we decided pretty fast what to order. For me: Chicken chili with cashews sounded perfect. At $6.95 for a bowl, it was fairly attractive. Greg had his usual fish and chips…he can't get enough of the fried stuff! David and Ben ordered picky-toe crab rolls. Another friend at the table whom I've labeled Sarah2 so as not to confuse her with Sarah1, David's wife, didn't eat as she had way too much popcorn during the movie. Sarah1 ordered Asparagus and cheddar soup.
Strike two: The server put a basket of warm white rolls on the table and we dove right in. There was no butter to go along. All hell seemed to break loose as we went nuts over the restaurant's failure to supply this simple fare. When we finally got butter, the rolls were cold, but not as cold as the butter, which was frozen in little individually sealed packets. Bad form.
The food arrived quite quickly, but so did Strike Three. My chili arrived and looked anemic. It had shredded chicken, lots of water, and some crumbled blanched cashews on top as a garnish. It wasn't the thick rich chili with spicy ground chicken and plump whole roasted cashews that I was expecting. The kicker came when I dove in to find that the chili was tepid at best. Yuck!
Greg was halfway through his fish and chips before he gave two thumbs up. Between bites he said it was tender and flaky, but the fries were a bit squishy. Both David and Ben concurred that their picky-toe crab rolls had far too much mayo and not enough crab. Sarah1 like the flavor of her soup, but alas it was also tepid. I personally liked the fries, a bit of spice to them and hand-cut to boot.
When the server cleared our plates, she never once asked why I hadn't eaten the chili….what can I say, it was late…..I'm giving Darby's a solid C for this visit. I'm sure we'll be back.
As I said before Darby's is an easy place to eat, and there were pleas at the table to give the place another try because Ben and Sarah2 had been there the night before and eaten at the bar and had a lovely time. They actually raved about the chili when I ordered it, saying it was their favorite thing on the menu. I must admit that Greg and I have eaten at the bar before and had a wonderful time as well. There is not much to mess up with a Caesar salad and burger though.
What I am saying is…. try it, but don't blame me if your soup is cold…I warned you.
Went back to Darby's last night with my sister for a quick bite. I went for the safe cheeseburger and fries and she had the Ceasar salad with chicken. Service was good and attentive, so as soon as we sat down, we had a drink order in. The burger was delicious but the fries were limp and cold...too bad. My sister ate about 1/2 of her ceasar because she was hungry. She said it was really salty and there was too much dressing. From what I saw, the dressing wasn't a ceasar style, but more like oil and vinegar and the raw onions on top were not a welcome addition.
We poured over the menu to try and find something to eat and decided that most dishes just missed the mark..meaning that some sounded good until we read the descriptions where there was always some wierd ingredient that didn't sound good. The menu ranges from burgers to Pad Thai to pinky toe crabmeat Quesadillas with brie cheese...its a bit all over the place.
Darby's will have to reinvent itself this summer to be competitive as there are now two more restaurants opening up in town.
Darby's Yet Again The other night, Greg and I met our friend Vicky at Darby's before going to the movies. I know enough now to stay away from certain things. The drinks were good as was the service. We ordered a Cobb salad, a Fiesta salad with black beans instead of Chicken chili with cashews (see above) and a burger with chedder and fries. All in all the meal was just fine. Actually the burger was very good and the Fiesta salad was a nice change of pace. Just remember that Darby's is a pub and the less inventive foods are the better choices. By the way, we saw Leagally Blonde, which was realllllllllllly silly...but thats life in a small town!