Thursday, October 9, 2008

Highs and Lows at the Delaware Shore

The early post-season is a great time to visit the shore here in the Mid-Atlantic. The crowds are modest yet most businesses – at least those in the town centers – are still open. The water’s still warm enough for a swim, even if the weather can be unpredictable. Besides, the occasional drab day makes for extra time to sample the goods at some of the local watering holes and dining establishments.

The tides in Rehoboth Beach:

High: Really scrumptious breakfast and lunch at Green Man Juice Bar & Bistro (12 Wilmington Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971, (302) 227-4909). The sausage and grits “soufflé” and crème brulée French toast were both particularly tasty. Our pups rather liked the pet-friendly front porch.

High and Low: A really crummy picture of a really great bottle of grower Champagne, which we enjoyed immensely with dinner at Nage (separate write-up coming soon).

Low: Go Fish looks like a tourist trap; a notion supported by its location just a few doors up from the boardwalk. Nonetheless, the beacon of fish and chips summoned. On our previous trip, lunch at Go Fish (24 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971, (302) 226-1044) proved they could do it right. This time, the fish was again deliciously golden, crisp and moist. But the mushy peas were bland. And the chips were a disaster. Cold, greasy, limp, even pasty. Inexcusable in a place where the entire menu is based on deep frying. If you go, go at lunch when the same food sells for lower prices and the fries may stand a better chance of being fresh.

On the Bay Shore in Lewes:

Low: We’d enjoyed a simple lunch at Café Azafran on our previous trip so we planned a dinner this go 'round without hesitation. Thursday paella night, when the chef cooks a huge batch of paella based on the number of reservations, sounded too fun to miss. It wasn’t. The whole kit and caboodle, from rice to shellfish, was overcooked. Chorizo and chicken, advertised as prime ingredients, were barely in evidence. A letdown in any scenario, a serious bummer at $30 a head.

High: Hanging out on the porch at Half Full, a charming little wine, beer and pizza bar located in the quaintest heart of exceedingly quaint Lewes. I’ve heard reasonably good things about their pizzas and the beer list looked decent but we just stopped by for a late afternoon glass of wine and a little relaxation on the front stoop, which I can only imagine is a bustling spot in peak season. That’s one of the owners in the picture, chatting with a fellow we dubbed the Mayor of Lewes. Definitely a good spot to strike up conversation if you’re feeling so inclined.

Low: The wine list at Half Full. There was nothing of immediate interest so, after eyeballing every bottle on offer, I settled on an Argentinean Malbec and a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. They’re both things I rarely drink but both were estate bottled so I figured what the heck. The Malbec was drinkable but that’s all; the Cab was downright awful.

I don’t mean to pick on Half Full specifically, as this wine scenario was repeated at every single place we visited in both Lewes and Rehoboth. The seasonal aspects of the area’s business seems to have led to lists populated by nothing but commercial brands, some of them acceptable in a pinch but far too many of them plonk. For the sales reps and distributors out there willing to make the drive for four or five months of business each year, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

* * *

In order of appearance:

Green Man Juice Bar & Bistro
12 Wilmington Avenue
Dewey Beach, DE 19971
(302) 227-4909
Green Man Juice Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon

Go Fish
24 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
(302) 226-1044
Go Fish on Urbanspoon

Half Full
113 W Market Street
Lewes, DE 19958
(302) 645-8877
Half Full on Urbanspoon

Cafe Azafran
109 W Market Street
Lewes, DE 19958
(302) 644-4446
Cafe Azafran on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

c said...

I just tried an amazing new wine from Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina -- called Belasco de Baquedano Malbec. It's 100-Year Old Vine, but just introduced in the U.S., its website says ( I had the Llama, and there are three others (Swinto, AR Guentota, Rosa rose) all from the same Malbec estate. Have you tried this? What do you think? I was amazed at how low the price is, about $15 for the Llama. Are all Argentine malbecs so excellent?

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