It’s only a short drive to some hidden gems

August 8, 2019

Though we love our local restaurants and bars, sometimes it’s fun to crank up the Maserati and take to the road in your leather cap & matching goggles. One can become peckish on the highways and byways, but fear not: There are some not-so-far-away eateries that will definitely satisfy.

The historic town of Seaford, Delaware lays claim to what is considered to be the best French restaurant in the state. Bon Appetit has occupied the same spot on High Street for over 20 years, and weekend reservations are still the holy grail of fine dining. Fresh flowers, lace tablecloths, candlelight and excellent cuisine make Bon Appetit the dining spot of choice for anyone who appreciates good food and service. It’s not that long a drive, but do get reservations. This place is a foodie magnet.

If you drive through Fenwick Island and blink, you will miss One Coastal. And you’ll be sorry you did. This bustling little eatery is nestled on Coastal Highway between Quiet Storm and the Fenwick Bike Shop. It’s time for new and upbeat places that aren’t resting on past laurels, and Carlie & Scott’s One Coastal is leading the way.

A couple of minutes west of Fenwick on Rt. 54 is the always reliable Catch 54. A good burger, excellent fish ‘n’ chips, great fried oysters and shrimp ‘n’ grits are served alongside some of the best views here at the beach. Multiple dining rooms and bars make this a place that can be packed to the gills but not feel like it.

Millsboro is about 15 or so minutes west of the intersection of Rt. 24 and Coastal Highway. After the surprise closing of Georgia House, one restaurant does stand out for consistently good food and service: Josh & Jess Wiggins’ Blue Water Grill. Hometown cooking and atmosphere make this place a good pick for lunch and dinner. The crab balls appetizer, the ribs and the fried oyster po’boy will leave you smiling.

Speaking of po’boys, Mike Clampitt’s tiny Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch on Rt. 16 in Milton is another spot where getting a seat is akin to winning the lottery. This humble spot is about as down-to-earth as you can get. I’m one of the few to order Mike’s gumbo bowl as an appetizer and then a cup of gumbo for dessert. (Don’t judge, lest ye be judged!) By the way, Po’Boys’ lunch specials are always good.

Milton also contains the carnivore’s ultimate happy place: Chef Robert Leggett’s Cantina Ultima. DIY tacos and burritos help wash down tasty cocktails. Next door is Kristen Latham’s eclectic Suburban Farmhouse. They’ve got warm cruffins and fresh cookies. They’ve got pizza. They’ve got funny pillows. They’ve got cute tchotchkes. It’s well worth the trip.

One of the new kids on the block in Milton is the satellite location of Lewes’ iconic Gilligan’s restaurant. Yes, Cheryl’s famous crab cakes are there, as well as a fun bar and live music every weekend! Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 28. The fun (and the music) starts at 7 with the 2nd Time Around trio. Vintage rock pairs perfectly with Cheryl and Garry’s crabby pretzel, fried ravioli, wings cooked in duck confit and the shockingly good veggie burger.

A bit farther north is the Sussex County seat of Georgetown. The restaurant in the historic Brick Hotel has been totally revamped into The Counting House by celebrity Chef Bill Clifton and partner Miguel Kaltreider. Clifton’s food is even better when consumed up on the hotel roof to the sounds of live music. That 2nd Time Around band gets around … they will be performing there until 10 on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

Step away from your email box! I know I missed a boatload of places. But my intrepid editor cracks the whip when it comes to staying within my allotment of ink. So cut this out, pin it to your shirt, and get out there to find your own gems. And the beach will be waiting when you return.

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