What is a Cooter Brown exactly?
According to Dale Slotter, co-owner of the new Cooter Brown’s Southern Kitchen and Bourbon Bar in Rehoboth Beach, Cooter Brown is a Civil War-era character - whether he is real or not is unknown - who lived on the Mason-Dixon Line, with half his family living in the north and half in the south. Slotter said Brown did not wish to join either side because he did not want to kill any of his relatives. So to avoid the draft, Cooter Brown stayed drunk. Through the entire War, Slotter said.
“So we took that kind of story, and we melded it into a menu,” Slotter said. “Our main thrust is southern-style cooking but we’re twisting that with different influences. We’re doing some Asian influences with southern; we’re doing Eastern European with southern. It’s not traditional southern but has the twist of all these influences.”
Among the offerings are the pulled pig Cuban, a mix of a pulled pork and Cuban sandwich - a traditional Cuban uses roasted pork - and the whiskey dip, a take on the French dip, using brisket and a whiskey au jus. While there are some fairly traditional items, such as the catfish po’boy and crab cakes, others go farther out on the limb, such as the scrappy burger, a burger served with scrapple and smoked gouda - and the chili crunch burger, served with brisket chili and Fritos on top.
So far, Slotter said audience favorites include the pulled pork pierogi appetizer, which uses in-house smoked pulled pork drizzled with an Alabama white barbecue sauce. Other favorites are the smoked chicken wings and sweet tea brined fried chicken, he said.
Keeping with the southern theme, Cooter Brown’s also offers an extensive bourbon menu, with 20 varieties - Slotter said he’s planning to build up to 30. The restaurant also has six rotating beer taps and a program of craft cocktails.
Slotter, who with partner John Buchheit also owns Crabby Dick’s seafood restaurant on Route 1 and Lewinsky’s on Clinton in Delaware City, said they always are creating concepts for new ventures. The interior of the restaurant has undergone a facelift, with a more wood and rustic look to match the old Southern flavor of the menu and a new fireplace. Cooter Brown’s also features a 52-seat outdoor patio to go with the 161 seats inside.
A soft opening in mid-April will be followed by the grand opening May 9, which is also Slotter’s birthday.
“I’m looking forward to giving an alternative to different restaurants down here, and I think our concept works well with others. I think this is something for people looking for something a little bit different,” Slotter said.
Cooter Brown’s is located on the second floor of First Street Station, 70 Rehoboth Ave., and is open Monday through Friday starting at 4 p.m. and open at noon on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 567-2132, go to cooterbrownstwisted.com or on Facebook at cooterbrownstwisted.