The midseason roundup!

August 6, 2013
Brenda Pfautsch microplanes a chunk of pink salt into a customer’s waiting hand at Spice & Tea Exchange. PHOTOS BY BOB YESBEK

Is it really the beginning of August? It’s a full-time job keeping up with changes in the food biz here at the beach, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s time for my midseason roundup of new munchables in Rehoboth. So rev up your knives, forks and spoons and fasten your seat belts (seat belt extenders allowed):

Debra Holmes’ Debacle restaurant is now seating diners on the entrance deck of the Celebration Mall on the ocean block. There are few better spots for people watching - and on Baltimore Avenue, that never disappoints. Debacle’s al fresco dining is only a few steps from Morgan and Gower Cheesemongers. If you haven’t dropped in lately, then you haven’t experienced Andy’s gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Crispy, buttery and packed with all sorts of melty, aromatic goodies. These ain’t yo’ momma’s versions, so be ready for a surprise.

Nighttimes just got better on the second block of Baltimore Avenue! The ever-adaptable, James Beard-nominated chef Hari Cameron has kicked up the late-evening action at a(MUSE.) with Mr. Cameron’s $5 & $10 Menu. Served during the early and late happy hours, it includes many of his small-plate favorites at even smaller prices. Kick it up a few bucks and enjoy Hari’s legendary lobster dish or his decadent foie gras. And no night is complete without a cocktail assembled by legendary mixologist David Engel.

While some of you weren’t looking, Modern Mixture and Semra’s Mediterranean Grill acquired their liquor licenses. Leo Cabrera’s impossibly delicious tamales at ModMix are even better with a fresh lime margarita, and Semra’s authentic Turkish dishes (she makes her own Greek yogurt for the tzatziki) are even better when washed down with a glass of Raki. If you’re not feeling adventurous, try Semra’s chicken cheesesteak wrap. It’s an unexpected pleasure with a mysterious whisper of Turkish spices.

Speaking of Greek, George and Irene Vrentzos are lovin’ their very new, very blue and very white dining room at the Corner Grill at First and Wilmington. Fresh, hot coffee awaits you at breakfast, and if you’re lucky, Chef George will have a pan of crispy spanakopita hiding behind the counter. Just next door, the Frogg Pond is now just The Pond. Along with the rebranding came new menu items and even more of Chef Byrd’s down-home concoctions.

Spice & Tea Exchange is another hidden treasure just a few steps off the Boardwalk on the south side of Rehoboth Avenue. Joy, Brenda and the gang urge you to sniff to your heart’s content. Exotic salts, peppers and even catnip await you at Joy’s third incarnation of the eclectic little franchise. Their custom blends are not to be missed. On the other hand, if you’re missing Tommy Gross at The Point Bakery and Coffee Shoppe, that’s because he’s enjoying his new status as concierge at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel. The place has always been a class act, and Tommy’s perpetual smile and accommodating at titude make it even classier.

Former JAM Bistro sous chef Joe Churchman and his wife Megan (of Poor Little Rich Girl fame) are putting the finishing touches on the new Bramble & Brine House on the fourth block of The Avenue where South Pacific Florist used to be. The place is shaping up quickly and should be open in a week or two. Back on the ocean block, the downtown Capriotti’s Sub Shop is out, and Surf’n Bull is in with pit beef, turkey and ham seared over a fire. Samples distributed out front were pretty tasty. Reminds me of the original Bull on the Beach in O.C.

The iconic Lingo’s Market celebrates its 113th year in Rehoboth by reopening in Village by the Sea mall. The installation carries everything from fresh produce to pies, from rotisserie chicken to dairy products, from fresh bread to prepared foods, deli meats and cheese.

So there you have it. Midseason in a nutshell. Enjoy!

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.