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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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We checked out Darien Social Friday. It’s not quite ready for prime-time yet. The front of the house (located in the middle of the house) was confused and flustered trying to keep things organized between paper bookkeeping and some newfangled iPad application that nobody seemed to fully understand. On the upside, sending a text message to me at the bar to let me know when my table was ready was a nice touch.

It was the restaurant’s first Friday, so I’m not taking the following too seriously: We didn’t have a waiter or waitress for a long time, and it’s never clear who was actually responsible for our table. I’m not sure they knew, either. We eventually got a chance to order and got some water. We quickly ran out of water, but it was never replenished. We had wine spilled on us twice. We waited half an hour for our main course only to be offered dessert. We indicated we’d like to try eating our meal first, at which point it seems our order was actually placed? Some of the serving dishes came out chipped or broken (impressive for this early in their opening), and the folks bringing the dishes couldn’t seem to figure out where to place them on the table (they are odd shapes that don’t really fit on a half-full table). The tables glide on the floor easily but the chairs get stuck (in the back room, at least). Lots of broken/dropped glasses, several complaints of chipped glassware. Toilets didn’t work. Soap dispensers in the bathroom were broken. 4 out of 5 cocktails were missing ingredients or garnishes. The bus staff was very good.

So, more or less, it’s what you would expect from a restaurant that just opened and hasn’t really found its groove yet. I think we’ll check it out again in a month or two when things settle down – there’s a lot of promise.

At the bar we had the Moscow Mule (not a Moscow Mule, but was a nice variation) and the Blue Blazer (also not a Blue Blazer, also a nice variation). The New Old Fashioned (basically add bacon to everything) was novel, but not something I’d order again. The by-the-glass Malbec was okay. By the bottle there were some rather interesting selections; the restaurant has a reasonably small list with good options. We didn’t drink any beer, but there’s an awful lot of crap on the list for having 31 taps. Most of the clientele seemed happy with that, so they probably know what they’re doing more than I do. Several people were complaining that all of the fancy cocktails were slowing down their ability to get glasses of Bud Light.

It’s the sort of bar that could actually have a cocktail program; they have a lot of good liquor as inputs. The potential is there for them to get serious about it. Just add a few folks in bow ties making infusions and bitters, and we’re all set. I’m not sure a top-tier bar where I can go bartender’s choice can coexist with a place that has a monumental demand for Bud Light, but I’m going to keep going.

We started with the Swedish meatballs; they were pretty lovely. Two burgers rounded out the meal, the Social Burger and the Shroom Burger. Both were quite good, though ordered medium (not going to risk it at a new restaurant on their first busy night), they both came out on the cold side of rare (so, not sure it mattered, I guess). Fries with the burgers were warm and tasty. We quit while we were behind and didn’t order dessert.

I’ll go back, but I’m going to give it a month or two.