I had fallen in love with The Derby in its previous incarnation--the Tiny Fork--which was a seafood-driven establishment where customers feasted on large raw-bar trays. The ownership is the same, but there is an all-new staff. The Derby has only been open 2 1/2 months at the time of this writing, and friendly manager Gabe Voytas is as helpful as they come. He can answer your questions about every fussy detail of every dish. This is his first foray into the restaurant world; he previously managed several hot nightspots in the city.
My dining partner and I started out by ordering the Carolina Chopped Salad ($12), which consisted of romaine, palm hearts, strawberries, pancetta and herbs lightly coated with shallot-thyme vinaigrette. It's a super-refreshing salad perfect for a warm summer day. The salad had a bit of an anise taste, so I think on the particular night I dined there some chopped fennel was added to the salad. The portion is easily big enough for two--I would say that it measures three cups. The herbs and lettuce that the eatery uses is sourced locally and are tender and flavorful. Next we shared the BBQ Brisket Tacos ($12)--the dry-rubbed brisket is cut into cubes and is perfectly marbled and juicy. The three medium sized soft white flour tacos are topped with pickled red onions and Nappa cabbage. The homemade horseradish cream is ultra-fresh and tangy and comes on the side in a metal cup. That horseradish cream made my night and must have been made as the meat was cooking. The red pickled onions were tangy and sweet at the same time and were the perfect compliment to the tender, peppery beef.
|Chicken and Waffles|
|Cast Iron Rib Eye Steak|
The atmosphere in The Derby is casual, airy and comfortable. The walls, ceilings and floors have all been renovated but have been given an intentionally "lived in" look. All the chairs are bright yellow metal, which spruces up an otherwise neutral looking space. The bar area has plenty of tables so you can drink at a table or the super-long bar. There are a lot of glass doors on the front and side of the restaurant that are fully opened when the weather is nice, and diners have the choice of al fresco if they wish. The Derby is the kind of place with a neighborhood feel and can please many different palates. It's farm to table Southern food with a nouveau twist. They're always changing the menu while keeping the staples like the fried chicken and the Breakfast All Day items, so be sure to check them out often. It will be a place you will want to bring out of town guests because you just know they'll find something they love whether they are vegans or hardcore carnivores. And The Derby is a must for those who like down-home Southern cooking "done right"! (Aunt Bea would be proud!)
I will be returning to The Derby--I must try their much-praised Braised Pork Belly ($12) and Pulled Pork Sliders ($11). These folks know eveyr angle for serving The Pig deliciously! I was too full to try dessert during my first visit to The Derby, so I will be checking their sweets out the next time I visit. The Derby also prides themselves in bourbon-based Southern style drinks, which I will be trying in the near future as well.
167 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002