Friday, July 2, 2010

Mini-Review: Darwin

Name: Darwin
Address: 211 N Clinton St, Syracuse, NY
Phone: 315-214-5036
Neighborhood: Downtown
Menu: View Menu
Cuisine: Deli, Sandwiches, Breakfast
Restaurant Hours: Monday-Friday 8 AM to 2:30 PM
Parking: On-Street
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Take-Out: Yes
Delivery: No (will be available by Fall of '10)

Since the newly opened and little sandwich shop on N Clinton St will be evolving its menu every week until a final one is picked out in the fall, I'm going to hold off giving a rating and full review until then...

Darwin springs out of the mind of Terry Riley, owner of Riley's on Park Street (a sister restaurant, if you will). It's one of several new restaurants that have been making their way Downtown recently. While the place is small with no seating inside (at least on this visit), a couple of tables outside seem like a great spot to enjoy a meal along Clinton Street. A chalkboard above the counter displays the weekly menu items, as well as a salad of the week, brisket of the week, sides (like noodles, roasted potatoes), soups, a vegetarian option, and breakfast sandwiches. The chef's are all very friendly, so if you have a suggestion or any questions about anything on menu, they're glad to help.

Being that sign in the shop reads "If you've had the 'best sandwich ever' from somewhere in your travels, we'd love to hear about it.", may I shamelessly make a suggestion that the vegetarian option for one of the weeks be a pressed sandwich with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, sliced mozzarella, olive oil, salt and pepper (as a nod to the best sandwich I've ever had). Simple ingredients, but if they'd could pull it off, I'd be there every day of the week.

The ingredients are home grown and homemade and what they don't make here, they try to incorporate from other local business like DiLauro's Bakery, Pasta's Daily Bread, Gianelli Sausage, and Liehs & Steigerwald, to name a few. In the coming weeks, additions such as a fish fry Friday and Riley's raspberry pie will be making an appearance. On this particular visit, a Chicago-style hot dog was available (made with Liehs & Steigerwald's and baked on fresh DiLauro's bread topped with mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers, and celery salt). Extremely tempting, but maybe next time. For now, I decided go with the main sandwich...

Darwin's Week 1 Sandwich consisted of sliced turkey, cranberry aoli, sauteed spinach, and Swiss cheese on a freshly baked DiLauro's Bakery whole wheat roll (and served with a complimentary fireball candy).

Though I'm not big on whole wheat bread, this sandwich was extremely tasty. The melted cheese, warm turkey (roasted on the premises), and freshly sauteed spinach all went very well together and the aoli provided a really interesting and sweet kick. Surprisingly a great combination of flavors going on and a big portion too.

Also pictured is Riley's cranberry coleslaw (served in a convenient Asian-style take-out box).

I realize the monotony of picking out two items on the menu with cranberries, but I thought I'd go with it anyway.

Tender red and green cabbage, fresh carrots, chopped cranberries, and a not too overwhelmingly mayo taste (I'm picky about my coleslaw mix, sometimes it can be too mayo-ie or not enough - this was perfect). Great coleslaw.

They're really doing some smart and creative things here at Darwin. It seems like a little chef's science lab where they're trying out all different ideas from around the country to see what will work, all the while taking in suggestions from visitors. It's kind of fun to see how the menu changes from week to week. I'll be going back as the weeks and menu progress. Give them a shot if you haven't already.

1 comment:

Jim Johnson said...

They're cash-only. That irritates me.