The springtime restaurant shuffle is in full swing
My often imitated yet never duplicated New Year’s restaurant roundup used to be enough to keep us all on the leading edge of local gastronomic goings-on. But so much is happening for 2014 that I had to mobilize my emergency forces - armed only with sporks, credit cards and the occasional Cape Gazette dining card (worked that in nicely, huh?) - to unearth the latest news.
If I hear one more person tell me that the old Zorba’s/Charcoal Grill spot next to Food Lion is going to be an Indian restaurant, I’m going to apply for a permit to carry. People, we have to let this go! Yes, savory samosas, crunchy papadam and moist, oniony kultcha will remain a fantasy, but the good news is that we will soon be treated to Michy’s Kitchen Table. Michy is the wife of long-time Rehoboth cook Richard Davis (LaLa Land, Blue Moon, Nage, plus executive chef stints in Ft. Lauderdale). The friendly couple is remodeling the space with an open kitchen Salt Air-style. You’ll love the fresh herb garden bathtub. My lips are sealed: Look for a mid-April opening.
Word on the street was that the Crabby Dick’s boys were taking over the old Crab Barn/Wahoo/Timothy’s/Beachcomber spot, but word on the street is often wrong. I have been warned in no uncertain terms to keep my mouth shut and not rattle the powers-that-be while owners secure permits, liquor licenses, etc. But the news will break soon. (Unless that annoying RehobothFoodie.com guy beats me to it - yet another reason for a permit to carry.) Same thing applies to Cabo at Second and Wilmington. Not a done deal! But if it happens, it will happen soon. The treehouse will remain, and I can also reveal that whatever happens, margaritas will be involved.
It is the nature of cheffing to move from restaurant to restaurant in order to expand one’s culinary skills (unless you own the place, of course). And the talented Ted Deptula is doing that very thing. Nage’s loss will be the Lewes Yacht Club’s gain, but Nage is poised to announce a new boss toque to fill Ted’s classically trained shoes. “I wish him the best and love him like a brother,” says Nage GM Mark Harrison. So there are no hard feelings, and everybody benefits.
The old Cultured Pearl on Wilmington became Tuscan Grill and is now Ambrosia. Again, a bit of the standard arm-wrestling in the permit and license arena, but Christo and Susan Sfetsas and their partner George Stathis will soon continue the Italian concept there on the ocean block.
The new French-inspired Gate House of Lewes will be run by Cordon Bleu alumnus Gretchen Gates and her sons Wilson and Taylor (diplomates of the Culinary Institute of America). They bring their 60-plus years of combined culinary experience to the old Café Azafrán spot. We’re looking forward to the Gates’ self-described "simple, elegant bistro" around Memorial Day.
Construction continues next door to Nicola Pizza on N. First First St. as Charlie and Carrie Otto debut Otto’s Sandwich Shop. Otto’s will provide beachgoers with a cooler (ordered in advance) full of lunchy goodies (including Charlie’s famous Twisted Cuban) to be gobbled on the sand. Sated and tanned, weary sunbathers will simply return the cooler and get their deposit back. Just up the Avenue, Lula Brazil is taking shape in the old Palm/Cloud 9 building. Proprietor Meg Hudson promises a bit of Latino dancing and music to round out the menu.
Bill Brown’s Jake’s Wayback Burgers is now history, but Bill is lovin’ being a part of Jake’s corporate operation. He gets to open lots of Jake’s burger joints without having to pay the rent. Kudos to the always welcoming Matt DiSabatino on his brand-new addition to the front of Striper Bites in Lewes. The rather sad porch has been transformed into a beautifully windowed room with lots of year-round seating. And just a block or two west, the Dos Locos boys have completely reinvented JD’s Café. Don’t be fooled by the apparent lack of parking - there’s lots of it in the back.
The Olive Orchard Tasting Room in Rehoboth will soon raise our collective consciousness regarding quality olive oils and superior vinegars. Look for them soon in the newly remodeled First Street Station on the Avenue. It’s going to be a delectable 2014 with lots of new menus as the business of eating continues to thrive here at the beach.