Mural by artist Danielle Mastrion spotted on Ludlow Street at the Southwest Corner of Rivington.This is the location of the cover shot for the band’s album Paul’s Boutique.
The choice corner lot that formerly housed Tiny Fork Oyster Bar (RIP) is now home to a bright and casual Southern-Inspired bar and dining hall called The Derby. While this lower east side neighborhood has its share of up-and-coming eateries boasting a farm-to-table ethic, as far as location goes, you probably couldn’t ask for a better spot to enjoy an early summer evening dinner. Weather permitting, the front room keeps the doors and windows open to the street while the rear dining area remains flooded with natural light from its east-facing span of tall windows. The vibrant yellow-painted metal chairs, dark wood tables and antique bistro lighting (possibly left over from the space’s previous incarnation) add to The Derby’s welcoming vibe. Of course, the people watching is excellent.
We started off a recent visit with a tall, refreshing Vodka Lemonade, but if you are a Whiskey fan, The Derby has an excellent selection of unique choices to enjoy in one of their house specialty cocktails or on its own.
As a starter, we shared the BBQ Brisket Tacos ($12), stuffed with tender and flavorful dry rubbed meat, pickled onions and cabbage slaw and served with side of horseradish cream for topping them off. The crispy corn taco shells add a satisfying crunch to the appealing mix of textures going on in this great little plate.
We also shared the Carolina Chopped Salad ($12), featuring crisp romaine and a mix of delightfully diverse ingredients including hearts of palm, fresh sliced strawberries, pancetta, and abundant fresh herbs, dressed with a shallot-thyme vinaigrette. Salad offerings also include the Southern Living Lettuce Salad ($12) where bacon lardon, blue cheese and candied pecans steal the show!
Two house specialties at The Derby include their excellent Southern Fried Chicken entree ($16) and a Breakfast All Day dedicated menu section that includes three hearty Southern brunch entrees. We opted to enjoy a bit of both worlds with the Chicken and Waffles ($18) which did not disappoint! Loaded with three plump pieces of juicy chicken and a plate-sized waffle, this is a hearty entree that you could easily share. Fried Chicken has become a bit of a Thing in NYC recently, but this is exceptional. Having grown up with Southern grandmother who made the best skin-free fried chicken on the planet, I’d swear that The Derby’s is just as good (sorry, Grandma).
My dining companion indulged in the Cast Iron Ribeye Steak ($32), a huge slab of perfectly marbled, grass-fed beef served with an oven roasted garlic bulb! Marbling is what makes the Ribeye cut taste so special, but sometimes it can be a bit excessively fatty. This steak was expertly trimmed and, trust me, she ate every succulent, well-seasoned bite. This dish is very highly recommended for steak fans — it even surpasses the Ribeye we enjoyed at The Black Tree (just up the block) a week earlier. Round out your entree with a variety of fresh made sides (all $6) such as the Maple Smoked Cheddar Grits, Bourbon Yams or Yukon Mashed Potatoes. A daily choice of fresh Market Vegetable ls also offered.
We were actually too full to order dessert (which almost never happens) so we will have to make a return trip to The Derby for that. You can see by the above Chalkboard Menu on display out front that there are many other tempting dishes left try.
The Derby is Located at 167 Orchard Street (South West Corner at Stanton Street). Hours are Monday – Friday 4:00 PM -11:30 PM and Saturday – Sunday 12:00 Noon-11:30 PM. Phone 212-777-8469 for Reservations.
In popular slang, the initials “DL” are commonly understood to stand for “Down Low,” indicating something that should be kept secret or given a low profile. In a neighborhood that’s quickly developing its own Restaurant Row (see Essex Street), The DL is a recently opened restaurant / bar located at the corner of Delancey and Ludlow Streets – the DL moniker deriving from this intersection – serving remarkably delicious food and offering a hip dining alternative completely free of any oppressive hipster attitude. Even if you’re reading about The DL for the first time in this review, once word gets out, we can envision this place being one of the most buzzed about dining spots on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
One of the first things you’ll notice on entering The DL is how gorgeous the room is. Bordered by floor to ceiling glass windows, the open-plan space features a long bar and plenty of intimate tables and banquet-lined booths amid a gothic elegant décor of crystal chandeliers, dark wood and ornate metal filigree that lends an attractive nightclub feel to the room without sacrificing a cozy vibe. DL’s menu, presented tapas-style on small plates, showcases a varied selection of modern American comfort foods that manage to be both wildly innovative and pleasingly familiar. Plan your visit with one or more friends so that you can share and sample a variety of dishes.
Here’s what we enjoyed on a recent Thursday evening visit:
Shown: Half Portion. All Food Photos By Anne Raso.
An American classic combination, DL’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich served with a cup of heirloom tomato soup ($12.00) features Humboldt fog, a creamy goat’s milk cheese on 12-grain toast, and the warming soup has a slightly peppery kick to it. Our server was happy to request that the portion be split for two so that it could be easily shared.
Everyone loves macaroni and cheese, and The DL does their Ludlow Mac (Elbow macaroni, with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese) three ways: Lobster and Chive ($16), Bacon and Green Apple ($14) and Truffle and Mushroom ($15), which was our selection. This is a classically oven-baked dish with crispy panko crumb topping and the plentiful slices of fresh mushroom added a complimentary flavor boost to the rich, truffle oil-infused sauce. A sampling of all three Ludlow Mac varieties can be ordered for $24.
The slider-sized DL Burger was perfectly juicy, topped with cheese and crisp pickle on a fresh potato bun, with jalepenos, pickled turnips & avocado puree garnish and a side of extra crispy fries ($12.00). Had this been a full-sized burger it would certainly be among the best in Manhattan, the dry aged ground beef being excellent quality and the burger having an appealing char-grilled taste! If you plan on sharing ask for a sharp knife to cut the burger evenly in half, otherwise it could get a bit messy.
For fish lovers, we recommend the nice-sized portion of mild-tasting Rice Crispy Crusted Monkfish served with sautéed vegetables, crispy rice noodles and a flavorful Lobster broth accented with fresh baby coconut milk ($15.00).
A playful take on traditional green salad can be found in the Green Leaf Salad Rolls, where bib lettuce is wrapped around avocado, mango and julienne vegetables and served with a really unique sweet and tart citrus dressing ($11.00).
One of the house specialties, the middle eastern-style Merguez Pizza is served on a grilled soft flatbread topped with crumbled house-made lamb sausage, greens and fresh tzatziki sauce ($14.00). Perfectly spiced with hint of fresh fennel, this creation reminded us more of a tasty flatbread gyro than a traditional pizza.
For dessert, we were easily tempted by the Blueberry and Banana Pudding Tiramisu ($10.00). Aside from being a scrumptious dessert comprised of layers of cake and custard, this fresh fruit studded delight bears little resemblance to its namesake flavor-wise, but is nevertheless fantastically delicious.
We also couldn’t resist the Chocolate and Pistachio Cake ($10.00), a traditional leavened cake that’s a welcome break from the ubiquitous flour-less chocolate cake you find on nearly every dessert menu in the city
Service from both our waiter and the restaurant’s accommodating Maitre D’ was exceptionally friendly and attentive in every way. Chef Wesley Wobles (formerly of Cafe Del Mar, among others) even made a stop by our table to ask how we were enjoying the food and to chat with us briefly about his approach to cooking with fresh, local ingredients. With his delicious, creative cuisine and fun personality, we think Wesley would make an ideal contestant for Bravo TV’s Top Chef!
The DL is located at 95 Delancey Street (Southwest Corner of Ludlow and Delancey) in New York City. Happy Hour Drink specials are featured nightly from 5 – 8 PM. Reservations (starting at 5 PM) can be made up to thirty days in advance. Please call (212)228-0909 for all information regarding dinner and table reservations. Visit The DL on the Web at This Link.