Pan-fried trout at Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen
by MC Slim JB
| October 04, 2010
Photo: JOEL VEAK
Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen (604 Columbus Avenue, Boston, 617.536.1100) sits on an old corner of the South End and - though you might never guess to look at it - lives atop the rubble of broken dreams. There's the lingering smoke from the bonfire of a million dollars that went into Circle Plates & Lounge, a venue so ill-conceived and poorly timed (it debuted costly French small plates right after Wall Street's 2008 collapse) that it lasted barely six weeks in this spot. There are the bad vibes from Circle successor Stork Club, which closed after less than 10 months because of a fumbled liquor-license transfer. And Darryl's came into being after its owner, Darryl Settles, extricated himself from an unhappy partnership in The Beehive a few blocks away.
On the upside, Settles is returning to the site of the venue he closed to start The Beehive, the long-running and beloved Bob the Chef's (later Bob's Southern Bistro), a Southern and soul-food restaurant known for its fabulous fried chicken, multi-cultural crowd, and nightly live jazz. Darryl's retains some of the handsome, costly renovations its predecessors put into the place, like the expensively tiled bar, but otherwise clearly echoes Bob's: it's casual and modestly priced, a friendly neighborhood bar that serves food and has some live music on weekends. This time around, Settles has drafted Tim Partridge (formerly of Perdix) to oversee the kitchen.
The menu is built around slightly elevated versions of pub fare and homey Southern specialties, like an eight-ounce prime-beef burger ($9) and batter-fried chicken wings ($14/dozen) with peach/sweet-chile sauce. Bob's "glorifried" chicken hasn't reappeared, but fried catfish with Cajun remoulade ($10) plays similarly soulful notes. A sandwich of pulled pork ($10) has fine fork-shredded texture and a dollop of good cole slaw, though excessive time in a hardwood smoker overpowers any finishing sauce, and the accompanying fries are forgettable. More ambition and refinement are evident in the entrée of pan-fried trout ($24), a skillfully cooked whole fish stuffed with a salad of small shrimp and a vivid salsa verde, with good roasted potatoes and bell peppers alongside. A hefty slice of red velvet cake ($5) provides a rich, satisfying denouement. With late-night hours and a fairly priced selection of draft beers, wines, and specialty cocktails, Darryl's feels like an overdue homecoming. Perhaps it was inevitable, after all, that Settles would once again be the right man with the right concept for the building, the neighborhood, and the times.