Just because you do not know where a restaurant is, and have not heard too much about it that does not automatically disqualify THAT restaurant as a GOOD place to eat. Backstreet in Darien is one of those restaurants, I had no idea where it was, nor did I know anyone who dined there until a friend and work colleague insisted I try it. Am I ever glad I listened to her recommendation.
I tried Backstreet with that same friend who suggested it on a chilly, rainy, Friday night. Walking across the far end of the busy Center Street Parking Lot only made me hungrier and my hands colder. As I walked into the back entrance of Backstreet I met the owners, Chef Dave Johnson and his wife Cheryl. Now, usually I would jump right into how the dining room looked or how delicious the food was but the Johnsons were both welcoming, polite, and were happy to talk about food with me, that alone deserves a shout-out. And major bonus points for noticing how frozen my hands were and for sending over a hot cup of water to warm them up.
While my hands came back up to human temperature from the frozen vampire like state they were in, I glanced at the mostly classic American menu with a few highlights of French here and there. I noticed items like steak au poivre, BBQ baby back ribs, New Zealand rack of lamb, confit of duck, French onion soup, and seafood dishes including pan seared scallops, filet of sole, and blackened salmon. During my dinner choice thought process, helped along by one of Backstreet’s featured craft beers on tap, a Captain Lawrence Pale Ale, I took in the atmosphere of regulars having a good time at the bar and diners just chatting it up in a relaxed, but quiet setting. A good date place to actually talk to your date? Definitely.
I could wait no longer and had to order something. I still wanted to think about my dinner selection so I ordered an appetizer to start and went with Backstreet’s blackened beef tenderloin, a tender, pounded-out piece of beef with a spice rub that is sure to wake you up with some good heat. Dip it in the horseradish and trust me, you’ll dig it. Due to sampling the blackened beef, I now wanted steak in a bad way. I wanted the au poivre, was tempted by the fish & chips special, but chose another special instead, an 18 ounce cowboy ribeye with herb butter, frizzled onions, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies. Tell me you don’t want to end your week with that? My ribeye was tender and cooked a perfect medium rare and if there weren’t people in the dining room, I would have picked up the bone and went caveman for a few minutes. All the accompaniments were great including the potatoes, thick but creamy, and mixing the mash with the crispy onions is fun, try it.
I was full but I can always make time and room for a good dessert and knowing that Backstreet’s pies are all homemade made it an easy choice for a sweet treat, I just didn’t know how easy. The second the menu was placed in front of me, BOOM! At the top of the list was my all time favorite dessert, key lime pie. Fastest dessert decision ever. I will just say this about the pie, I want to go back just for a slice of key lime and considering how fast I ate it, I might need another piece soon to refresh my memory.
While everyone else is beating the doors down to get into “that new place,” skip the long wait times and try Backstreet. I know where you are now, I have heard of you, Backstreet, I will return.
22 Center Street
Darien, CT 06820
Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.