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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Darien Social Club: Comfortable Setting, Thoughtful Fare

Darien Social Club: 
Comfortable Setting, Thoughtful Fare
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield HamletHub)

Darien, CT – Looking to explore the restaurant landscape beyond Fairfield’s borders? Consider a visit to Darien Social Club, opened just two weeks ago at 10 Center Street, Darien. Taking a few cues from speakeasy clubs, the new eatery offers a comfortable atmosphere, tasty libations and small plates and pizza to please the palate.

There are two main sections in the restaurant’s footprint: a bar area and a dining space. The bar area, with a long marble counter and over a dozen tables, is an afterwork destination. Its brick walls, wood floors and mix of Edison lights and contemporary spots make it inviting. The drink list makes it even more so.

Beer connoisseurs have a choice of 31 different brands on tap, ranging from pilsners to pints and weizen glasses. One might try a flight, starting with a Radenberger Pilsner and Brooklyn Brown Ale and progressing to a Lagunitas IPA and Ommegang Abbey Ale. Cocktails are of an old-fashioned ilk that have been refreshed and updated. For example, the DSC’s idea of a Manhattan is white whiskey and maraschino cherries. Wines, whenever possible, are organic sustainable and carefully chosen to complement fare. Some excellent selections include Millbrandt Chardonnay from eastern Washington, Bigvine pinot noir and Hobo Zinfandel.

Comfort and warmth extends to the dining area, where visitors can enjoy what Executive Chef Nick Bilello calls American comfort food. Snacks and small plates, ranging from $6 to $15 are popular, as are sandwiches ($10 - $14) and pizza ($11 - $14). A tasty pizza choice is one made with wild forest mushrooms and Bridges Abbey cheese, sourced in Connecticut. Green house salads, farmstead cheeses from Vermont and entrees like wood oven roasted chicken and beef short ribs (ranging $19 - $30) round out the menu.

Other hearty menu favorites include scallops with bacon jam, shrimp and grits with crispy polenta cake, pork sliders, Swedish meatballs with foie gras gravy and wild salmon with Swiss chard.

For dessert, try house-made cookies with shots of granola milk or a vanilla pot de crème.

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