It is a large space with high ceilings and cool lighting, with an open wood-fired grill (as at Shoreditch darling Brat restaurant) and an oyster bar. Also on site is Matt Thornton's bakery, nestled besides a large sunny terrace looking out over a modern London landscape of geometric lily ponds and the thrilling-to-observe new US Embassy building.
Why the restaurant name? It is in homage to chef-proprietor Robin’s jazz musician father, 'Darby' Gill, who frequently toured the US during the 50s and 60s and was inspired by the kinds of bars he frequented.
Oyster lovers should arrive early to enjoy six Blackwater Wild oysters with their fantastic sweet minerality and luscious texture. These are best enjoyed with a pint of Guinness on the sunny terrace (offer £10 only 5pm-7pm Mon-Fri). Arrive early, too, to sample the creative cocktail list with a definite Irish edge.
It's a short menu, yet it is still difficult to choose from as everything sounds, and is, irresistibly satisfying. Chicken liver mousse is an airy cloud of decadence. Otherwise, there's an ambrosial bowlful of London-made ricotta with fresh and pickled peaches or Baron Bigod (rather like a superior Brie de Meaux and among the best new British cheeses), given a truffling. This comes served with homemade fig and hazelnut toast.
Mains centre on beef and fish cooked on the grill that diners pass when entering the dining room. Don't ever complain about taking charge of the bbq again, this is a manic and addictive spectator sport with head chef Dean Parker somehow deftly turning and perfectly judging majestic hunks, whether they be steak or turbot. Could this be south London’s riposte to Brat? Be sure to order crisp beef fat concertinas of roast potato: divine and likely to be imitated elsewhere soon. There's a seasonal mix of summer veg, too: chard, peas and beans, all perfectly hitting the we'll be back for more spot.
Do not pass on Pump Street chocolate mousse. It is deeply, devilishly satisfying, nothing fancy just straight up delectable, and it comes served with Guinness ice-cream. As for the look of Darby's, it's all influenced by 1950s Manhattan. There's a bottle green tiled exterior facade, fluted velvet banquettes, burnished glass lampshades, and an oyster bar topped with green marble and lined with mustard leather rattan stools, plus plenty of de rigueur foliage.
|What||Darby's restaurant, Vauxhall review|
|Where||Darby's restaurant , 3 Viaduct Gardens , London , SW11 7AY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Vauxhall (underground)|