Friday, January 27, 2012

First Impressions

Last night I was invited to check out Darien Social, the newest restaurant in Darien. I’m not a first impression type of guy when it comes to restaurants that have just opened (or not quite opened) so I always refrain from opining about food quality and level of service. As a rule, I usually give restaurants three months to shake the sheet rock dust out of their ears and let the skillets season before I comment on the food quality and level of service. So here’s what I will tell you.

The restaurant is pretty darn big with a bar and dining area facing the Post Road and another large dining area toward the back facing Center Street. The interior is a warmer, more elegant Fat Cat Pie Company with exposed brick walls and recycled wide plank oak floors. I suspect when crowded the noise level will be quite high. The menu is well put together with a few twists on some classic dishes. It reminds me a bit of both Terroir and Balthazar in NYC, and Burger Bar in Norwalk. Their website is live and the menu is available. Here’s the link. Darien Social There wasn’t a wine list available for me to look at (I believe it was being printed today) but I know who they are working with which should lead to a solid selection of wines.

I sat at that bar which is warm and sleek with a white granite top. I must say I’m really happy to finally find a place with cozy bar seating. Easily the most comfortable bar seats in the area. The restaurant boasts 31 beers on tap. I was a little disappointed with the selection. It seemed to be a cast of the usual characters. They might just be playing it safe for the first couple of weeks. I hope so. That’s a lot of tap lines dedicated to basic. Their focus at the bar will be brown spirits and high end tequila. I saw a limited but good selection. I imagine it will grow over the next couple of weeks but it’s off to a good start. I wouldn’t expect to find a large gin or vodka selection and it looks like Chopin and its expanded line of wheat and rye vodka’s will be the featured white spirit.  There will also be a focus on innovative cocktails and proper bartending which I have to say I’m pretty excited about as well. There’s a lack of that in the area.  

I met some of the staff and in fact I know the Friday and Saturday night bartender very well. Some of you may also recognize a few faces behind the bar. The staff was all smiles, very friendly, eager to please, and eager to do the job right. That’s a plus, too. All in all, Darien Social is shaping up to be a great addition to Darien.  But as we all know, it’s about execution. And that’s the hardest part.

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