Derby – A Lincoln Park Beer Garden

IMG_0425I recently had my first dining experience at Derby, which used to be Charlie’s Ale House (it has been Derby since late 2011).   They have a nice secluded patio with ivy covered walls which is set back from the street.  This makes it a good place to hang out and relax on a warm summer afternoon.  The cocktail menu includes some unique options; my drink of choice was the  Afternoon Delight,  a mix of fresh brewed sweet tea, Stoli Strawberry and lemonade – I could drink these all day!!  Just be forewarned, they are stronger than they taste!

Overall the food was good, though not out of this world.  I’d go back again, probably more for the beer garden and the drinks, however two appetizers noted below really stood out and I’d be interested in trying some of the other things on the menu.

I was with a couple of friends so we sampled several different things.  Best dishes we had were Fresh Baked Bavarian Pretzels and the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes.  We actually like both of these so much that we had a second order of each!

The pretzels were nice and warm, soft on the inside and just a little bit of crunch on the outside – exactly the way a fresh pretzel is meant to be.  The beer cheddar sauce was my favorite of the dipping sauces.

The Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes were delectable; definitely one of my favorite dishes of the summer.  In theory this is a relatively simple dish, a cornbread cake topped with avocado, pico de gallo and a slightly spicy sauce, with salsa verde for a base.  All of these combine for a light and slightly spicy bite that literally melts in your mouth!

Two of my dining companions had the Seared Tuna Salad and said it was good, but nothing special.

The Buffalo Mac & Cheese was made with Gouda, so the mac & cheese part of the dish itself was pretty mild.  That was  nicely offset by spiciness of the buffalo chicken and sharpness of the blue cheese.  I prefer a more traditional mac & cheese so this dish was not particularly to my taste but had good flavors and the rest of the group enjoyed it.

The Hummus was ordinary, a lot like something that you’d get from the grocery store, with no real unique flavors.

While they promote themselves as having Southern food, I consider it more along the lines of  upscale “bar food”.  That said, the food at Derby is far better than average bar food, however if you are looking for Southern comfort food,  I’d suggest The Southern in Bucktown as a better option.