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Fancy Cars and Comfort Food Come Together at Ethan Stowell’s Derby

The dining public can ogle the extravagance over a BLT and salad in SoDo

Ethan Stowell’s latest restaurant marks an unusual mash-up for the prolific chef: Focused primarily on comfort food like BLTs, burgers, and Cobb salad, Derby is a publicly accessible eatery that opened today at 11 a.m. inside a fancy members-only car club called The Shop, which officially launches Friday, August 11 on 6th Ave. S. in SoDo. Diners without a membership can still ogle the decadence while chomping on perhaps the industrial neighborhood’s most expensive salads and sandwiches.

Thomas Dodd, previously at Marjorie, is in charge of the kitchen, which serves mostly classic American comfort food with creative touches here and there for lunch, happy hour, dinner, and weekend brunch. Starters like poutine with red-eye gravy, albacore crudo, and fried oysters coexist with multiple salads like Caesar and frisee, while sandwiches range from smoked brisket to spicy tuna. Since pasta is a Stowell signature, the entrees includes pappardelle with beef and lamb bolognese plus ricotta ravioli, rounded out by classic mains like steak and eggs, fried chicken, and salmon. Desserts include apricot-blueberry crisp with sweet bay streusel as well as a dark chocolate pot de crème, while brunch sticks with expected options like salmon Benedict (regular or smoked), corned beef hash, scrambles, and granola with fruit and yogurt.

The bar focuses on brown whiskeys — a choice that feels a little on the nose given America’s regrettable stereotypes linking men with classic cars and aged spirits — available in refreshingly interesting cocktails like Using Me for My Cheese (rye, aquavit, Benedictine, and cardamom bitters, garnished with Gouda) as well as beer cocktails similar to those at Stowell’s Bramling Cross, like The Seel-Bock with bourbon, Kina Quinquina, Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, and Shiner Bock. The wine list skews Northwestern, and 10 taps will pour some local beers. Happy hour, available daily from 3 to 7 p.m., discounts a handful of food items, as well as wine by the glass, draft and canned beer, and select cocktails.

For the casual car enthusiast who just wants a taste of the exclusivity, Derby’s 93 seats —split between the bar, dining room, and a lounge — offer plenty of peeks at the surrounding luxury, while members of The Shop get access to indoor storage, repair bays, detailing services, valet service, classes, meeting rooms, and private lounges in the 36,500-square-foot warehouse. The Shop was conceived by Matt Bell as an enthusiast’s gathering and storage space. The building utilizes corrugated metal and Boeing shipping containers turned into wood paneling, along with concrete floors and original fir ceilings. The first gallery shows the restaurant and its surroundings, while the second gallery pokes into some of the areas available only to members.

“SoDo is such an interesting neighborhood,” Stowell said in a release. “It’s been great getting to know the area and creating a restaurant that will really fill a hole. Derby is going to be a lot of things to a lot of people: from an easy weekday lunch spot to a great place for an after work cocktail to a bite with friends before a game.”


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