After nearly two years since the iconic Purple Onion closed its doors at 140 Columbus Avenue, Christopher Burnett (owner of Darwin Cafe) recently reopened the location with a restaurant and separate performing arts space. The restaurant portion, named Doc Ricketts, is serving a northern Californian cuisine guided by Chef Justin Deering (formerly of 15 Romolo). Doc’s Lab, located in the building’s basement, has been reimagined from comedy club to a supper club style venue offering the above restaurant’s abbreviated menu while also presenting live music, comedy, and other performing arts entertainment.
Challenges undoubtedly arise when energies and focus are split between creating both an entertainment and restaurant venue. We wanted to gauge whether the establishment was able to successfully launch their performance arts venue while simultaneously providing an engaging high quality restaurant. Upon hearing of the early September opening, we recently dined at the restaurant and attended a comedy event in the underground Doc’s Lab. Below is a summary of our experiences.
Exterior / Interior
Vieux Carre (Rye, Cognac, Vermouth, Benedictine, Bitters, Twist – 10)
Halibut (Halibut Crudo, Tomato, Avocado, Green Coriander – 13)
Black Cod (Black Cod, Fregola Sarda, Clams Fumet – 28)
Flat Iron Steak (Flat Iron Steak, Potato Puree, Maitake, Swiss Chard – 26)
Pear Tart (Pear Tart, Caramel, Almond – 8)
As we sipped on a cocktail and snacked on fries, we were entertained by a series of average and above average opening standup comedy performances. The headliner, Beth Stelling, gave a good performance and was generally well received among the crowd. After the performances, we were encouraged to stay and socialize.
Our overall dining experience was considered above average, as the ingredients and selections reflected a high level of culinary experience and thoughtfulness. With only three weeks from opening, we undoubtedly saw flaws such as the somewhat overcooked steak, average drink, and dry pastry tart. However, these are work in progress issues and should improve once the restaurant establishes a rhythm. A larger issue is the relatively small dining space and the restaurant’s potential inability to handle larger crowds.
With it’s chic urban ambiance, modern vibe, and high quality underground setting, Doc’s Lab created a vibrant atmosphere for the comedy show and bookended our night’s experience.