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DARBY’S 3 Viaduct Gardens Nine Elms, SW11 7AY WORDS: KATE WEIR To sit on the terrace at Darby’s is a surreal experience. In the foreground there’s a reflecting pond prettied up by greenery and bridged by stepping stones; beyond, musclebulked guards saunter around the perimeter of the recently relocated American embassy, packing the kind of firearms that make you want to slowly raise your hands, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. But, don’t let this deterrent deter you – in Darby’s, founder and chef Robin Gill (with head chef Dean Parker) has succeeded in creating a menu of greatest hits, upmarket comfort food made using ingredients of exquisite provenance, many house made, butchered or grown and we’d happily go – even to Battersea – to get our greedy mitts on his creations. This is a personal project for the Irish chef – whose previous hits include eateries Sorella and the Dairy. It’s named after his father, a trumpet-playing jazz musician who toured clubs in NYC and Chicago. As such, cultures clash with aplomb: there’s an American-style oyster bar serving Connemara’s finest (you can get half-a-dozen oysters with a pint of proper Guinness, Tuesdays to Saturdays, 5pm–7pm, for just a tenner) and thick slabs of beef hewn from Irish Dexter cattle. Dishes are wantonly indulgent, but refined enough that you don’t feel too gluttonous as you pile the table with plates. Salmon from East London’s Secret Smokehouse is served on brown-butter waffles, with cultured cream and a little pot of caviar to dollop on top; a punch-packing chicken-liver mousse is thickly spread over rugged slices of house sourdough with truffle jam; Baron Bigod cheese is truffled – if you’re not waddling over Vauxhall Bridge afterwards, you haven’t done Darby’s right… My main, a chunky cut of Highland shortrib meat arrives with a comically oversized pickle and beef-fat potatoes, perfectly crisped all over. Justly proud of his veg offerings, Robin sends out a simple salad of tomato slices, basil and capers. He’s worked in Italian kitchens previously and sung the praises of the chefs’ harmonious relationship with the land – these beefy, flavourful fruits and piquant capers brilliantly demonstrate his Continental learnings. A small snag in an otherwise faultless meal is that staff aren’t always as diligent as the fearsome guards across the way. It can be a common teething issue for nascent restaurants and doesn’t prove a problem until dessert, when I gleefully pour espresso over my malted-barley affogato only to realise I have no spoon, then helplessly watch it turn soupier as I try to catch someone’s attention. Luckily cutlery arrives before it’s too late. Regardless, Darby’s has won me over. On the way to the bathroom, you’ll see carcasses strung up in the butchers, somewhere there’s an apiary and various fertile gardens, and I still go into reveries over the food. Soon a sky pool will hover 115ft above the restaurant, open only to residents of surrounding luxury flats, but who needs such pie-in-the-sky follies, when you can get in on the ground floor for a top meal.

KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW

PAGE 56

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Christmas 2019 Edition  

The Fa La La La La issue. Including festive ideas for food and wine, travel and our glorious and rather popular annual Christmas gift guid...

Christmas 2019 Edition  

The Fa La La La La issue. Including festive ideas for food and wine, travel and our glorious and rather popular annual Christmas gift guid...

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