The Green Derby
846 York St.
The Green Derby opened its doors as a bar in 1947 and over time expanded to include dining rooms and a kitchen, serving up home-style cooking for the past fifty years at the corner of 8th and York.
I usually shy away from places like this because “home-style cooking” is usually analogous with “meat-based,” but we were lured in because my husband was intrigued by the banner out front touting their award-winning fish sandwich. He does love his fish & chips.
Prices are astonishingly low at The Green Derby – I wouldn’t go as far as to say they are 1950’s low, but I’d hazard a guess that the menu hasn’t been updated since sometime in the 1980’s. Neither has the décor, judging by the faded, hand-painted ocean and seafaring scenes on the walls, but I suppose that is part of the restaurant’s quirky charm. Service is friendly and genuine, and the restaurant was bustling with happy families on the evening we visited.
As I suspected, there wasn’t a single vegetarian entrée on the menu but luckily there was a grilled cheese sandwich listed on the kid’s menu, so I opted for that with a side of fries and a salad, while my husband had the fish with the Derby’s signature salad. He was taken aback that the signature salad is served warm – it’s made the old-fashioned way with bacon drippings – and he didn’t really care much for it. This is the way my Appalachian grandma made salads so it was no surprise to me, but I guess if it isn’t something you grew up with it might be a turnoff. Since bacon in general is a turnoff for me I stuck with a simple house salad.
My dinner was nothing special – just your basic American processed cheese grilled between two slices of buttered white bread and served with thick fries that probably came from GFS or Sysco – but I wasn’t expecting much, and since the meal was so cheap I didn’t feel ripped off or anything. My husband, who at the last minute decided against the sandwich and went with the baked fish special, was skeptical when it arrived because he wasn’t expecting the butter-crumb coating, but was won over with his first bite. We agreed that this place would probably prove a winner with my relatives, should they ever come to visit, because it is a more genuine representation of home-style cooking than places like Cracker Barrel.
I like that the Green Derby prints the cost of their mixed drinks on the menu. I’ve noticed that many of the places we dine do not print their mixed drink prices, and I figure if they can’t be bothered to tell me without my asking then I can’t be bothered to order one. At the Derby, the drinks are priced to sell and poured with a liberal hand. Oh yes.
Even though the restaurant isn’t vegetarian-friendly, I was still willing to give it decent marks for the friendly staff, cheap prices and generous drinks until we saw one of the staff lugging bags of dripping garbage through the dining room and out the front door, which is grossly unhygienic to say the least. The garbage juice was pooling all over the worn, green dining room carpet and trailing out the door onto the front walk, and since we saw it happen more than once while we were sitting there I have to assume that this is their standard procedure. That is totally unacceptable.
It would benefit me to remember to check out health inspection scores before we go out to eat someplace new, because when I checked The Green Derby’s score on the NKY Health Department’s site afterward it was a paltry 74. The inspection was from March and I’m surprised there hasn’t been a follow-up visit by now, but it doesn’t really matter because I’ll not be revisiting. Farewell, cheap and powerful Bloody Marys, farewell.