Darby’s Café: 1995 Olympia Original

by Giulia Cole

Stepping off of 5th ave and into Darby’s Café felt like teleportation into retro Olympia. A ceiling-to-floor mural of different colors covered one wall, another drenched in The Wizard of Oz memorabilia. Upon sitting down at a small table by the street-front window, the servers greeted me with smiles and laid-back attitudes. Dimmed lighting and sounds of the kitchen sizzling behind diner’s conversations and relaxing music gave the cafe a comforting atmosphere.

Darby's restaurant

Last month the restaurant was featured in an episode of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, garnering praise for its large amount of local and organic ingredients. I couldn’t help but feel excitement while waiting for each dish as an array of smells poured out of the kitchen.

The meal started with a side order of Darby’s fried ‘shrooms, which are hand-dipped in a beer batter and deep-fried. Crisp and lightly greasy, the batter heavily coated the mushrooms, making these babies larger than you’d think. After eating about three mushrooms and enjoying each bite, I couldn’t touch another. This plate would be best shared with a friend; leftovers won’t be the same if they’re not straight from the deep-fryer.

As I received the next course, a theme was easily recognizable: Very large portions!

The Four Seasons Hash came with house-made sage rosemary chicken sausage and hashbrowns. Thrown into the mix are local squash, onion, and green and red peppers diced-up with Washington Granny-Smiths adding a nice tangy kick.  Unfortunately, the dish was a bit cold, detracting from the experience as a whole. However, I still went home with a box of leftovers for the next morning. There is no better pleasure than knowing where your food came from and enjoying it from the hands of a creative chef.

Darby's Cafe

The meal ended on an interesting note with the Blueberry Crunch Roller. Fresh blueberries were paired together sweetly with maple bourbon baked granola and dolloped with cream cheese frosting that tasted almost too savory if it wasn’t for the scoop of vanilla ice cream. All of this was wrapped together carefully with a tortilla and deep fried.

Vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can count on Darby’s Café for a comforting meal. Head to downtown Olympia while it’s still chilly out and enjoy a hefty meal from Darby’s to cure those winter blues.

View Larger Map