On 27 May, Robin and Sarah Gill will open Darby’s, an oyster bar, bakery and grill in Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms, London SW11.
Inspired by Robin’s jazz musician father, Earl ‘Darby’ Gill, the restaurant will celebrate his time spent touring America in the 50s and early 60s, reflecting the Manhattan bars he frequented on his travels. Darby’s will pay homage to Earl with a menu from dawn ‘til late, dedicated oyster bar and a roster of DJs and live music.
Following the success of Robin and wife Sarah’s much-loved neighbourhood restaurants The Dairy, Counter Culture and Sorella in Clapham, Darby’s will continue their ethos of a produce-led menu using Robin’s close network of suppliers.
Joining Robin (pictured right) at Darby’s will be co-owner Dan Joines, Head Chef and co-owner Dean Parker (pictured left) with whom Robin opened The Dairy in 2013 and Sorella in 2018, and Emma Underwood who joins the team leading front of house.
Darby’s will open its doors early for breakfast with pastries freshly baked by Matt ‘the Baker’ Thornton, as well as cooked breakfasts including ‘Darby’s Full Irish’ and Mangalitsa bacon slab with brown sauce on sourdough.
Lunchtimes in the bakery will offer a selection of sandwiches from salt beef and celeriac remoulade bagels, to Darby’s house-cured mortadella and Jersey milk ricotta on Matt’s homemade sourdough.
Into the evening, guests will have the choice of perching at the central oyster bar for a selection of Ireland’s finest Dooncastle oysters, alongside dishes of native seafood such as mussels and pickles; Willy’s mackerel crudo; and caviar with potato flatbread.
Meanwhile, Robin and Dean will fire up the grill with a menu cooked over open fire including day boat fish; Lady Hamilton cod on the bone; and Brixham wild turbot.
From the land, there’s Dexter Beef with Worcester and mustard; and Oxford Sandy and Black pig with caramelised apple glaze, both to be offered in a selection of cuts.
Desserts will similarly be ingredient-led, from tonka bean gelato to Pump Street chocolate mousse with caramelized croissant gelato, and a selection of Neal’s Yard cheeses.
Heading up the bar, Wesley Yeung joins from The Dairy, with a cocktail list injecting a little of Darby’s into the classics including; The Kentucky Darby, for Wesley’s take on a mint julep; Mulligan’s Margarita with Ban Poitin (a potato based Irish spirit); and a tongue-in-cheek nod to Robin’s upbringing in Ireland, the Spud Sour.
Central to Darby’s drinks list will be house-made Vault Vermouth from Darby’s own Dan Joines. These will sit alongside the necessary staples of any oyster bar: draught Guinness and a selection of Champagnes.
Every evening from Monday to Saturday Darby’s will host ‘Black, Bubbles, and Rock ‘n Roll’ between 5-7pm, with an oyster and a ‘pint of Black’ for £5, or Champagne for £10, accompanied by old school rock ’n’ roll.
Robin Gill said, “My dad certainly knew how to have a good time, and a lot of that time was spent frequenting the bars of Manhattan. Darby’s is his kind of downtown place - somewhere for life to be lived to the fullest, with oysters on ice, pints of black, freshly made bread and the best ingredients we have at our fingertips in Britain and Ireland.'
Designed by AvroKO, Darby’s will take its cues from the bars of Manhattan during the 1950s. Reflecting the sophisticated elegance and excess of a bygone era, Darby’s depicts a rich interior with a bottle green tiled exterior façade, bespoke furniture, burnished glass lampshades, fluted velvet banquettes and foliage dangling above the central oyster bar.
No less eye-catching, the oyster bar will be topped with green marble and lined with mustard leather rattan stools, whilst the outside terrace, backed with a green tiled facade will offer ornate wrought iron seating overlooking Embassy Gardens.