Overall Food Service Noise Bathrooms Value

Blue Moon

/ Updated on May 4, 2016
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Noted restaurant critic Ruth Reichl said it best in her book, Garlic and Sapphires:

“Every restaurant is a theater, and the truly great ones allow us to indulge in the fantasy that we are rich and powerful. When restaurants hold up their end of the bargain, they give us the illusion of being surrounded by servants intent on ensuring our happiness and offering extraordinary food. But even modest restaurants offer the opportunity to become somebody else, at least for a little while. Restaurants free us from the mundane reality; that is part of their charm. When you walk through the door, you are entering neutral territory where you are free to be whoever you choose for the duration of the meal.”

Though Ms. Reichl was making reference to such pantheons of gastronomy as Le Cirque and Delmonico’s, this unwritten pact between customer and restaurateur is no less true at any place that touts itself as “fine dining.” In Rehoboth Beach, Blue Moon is one of those restaurants.

It’s been a wild ride at the Blue Moon over the last 35 years (October 2011 marked the 30th anniversary of the Moon). Changes of ownership mixed with a little juicy scandal brought scattered reports of inconsistencies in quality, presentation and service. But just about every person who criticized this place in the past has made a point of telling me how much they’ve enjoyed their recent experiences there. Perhaps, in Ruth Reichl’s words, the Blue Moon is again “holding up their end of the bargain.”

Blue Moon is housed in a restored Victorian beach house where traffic jams between customers and waitstaff add to the noisy, party atmosphere and the sense of hob-nobbing with the “in crowd” (whoever that is). On two of our recent visits, the kitchen started things off with complimentary plates of bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola. The sizzling crisp of the apple-smoked bacon swaddling the earthy dates brought to mind the elusive umami, or what the Japanese call the “Fifth Taste.” The dates take on different forms depending on the chef’s mood, but the basic concept remains the same. In short, I could have made a meal out of them.

UPDATE! We kicked off the season on Tasting Tuesday with our old friends from Tideline Gallery on Rehoboth Avenue. In fact, Bill and Babs Hammond were the first to introduce us to the Tuesday phenomenon many Moons ago (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Not only do Tuesdays feature pairings with various wines, but it’s also a chance for Chef Lion Gardner to have a little fun with the menu. However, on this particular Tasting Tuesday, compliments on that particularly tempting menu belong to Matt Kern, at the time one of the cooks there at the Blue Moon. It’s tribute to Chef Lion’s confidence in his staff that he puts his faith in these guys, and it’s a tribute to Matt that he hit the ground running and certainly did not disappoint.

The festivities began with a plate of Those Wonderful Dates. This time they rested comfortably on little crackers.

As our 2009 Hugel “Gentil” Alsace White Blend was being poured, we ordered the Oyster Po’Boy starter. Two eggy, toasted rolls embraced huge crunchy oysters topped with a bracing kimchee, cilantro and brown butter aioli. Two more could have been dinner.

The Scallop & Lobster Ceviche was beautifully and horizontally presented. “Out of the box” tidbits included black grapes, almond and a delicious lime gelee. The egg portion of the Chicken on Chicken starter is a  deep-fried soft-boiled egg (yup, you read it right) was perfectly cooked with a still runny yolk and a delicate, crispy crust. It topped a confitted leg and crackly bacon. And these were just the appetizers….

Fresh glasses and a 2010 Guy Saget La Petit Perriere Sauvignon Blanc arrived along with a bowl of Roasted Cauliflower Soup topped with trumpet mushrooms and crispy chunks of pancetta. Though it was certainly tasty, we have had more flavorful soups at Blue Moon (see the mushroom soup description below). They can’t all be home runs, y’know.

Blood Orange & Roasted Beet salads provided a leafy amuse between the substantial appetizers and the mains. The mains were paired with Coteaux de Languedoc La Clape’s 2009 velvety blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. A healthy chunk of Pan Roasted Rockfish rested atop beet spatzle (!), brussels sprout leaves and chunks of merguez sausage (a spicy north-African blend of either mutton or beef). It all floated in a creamy lake of cauliflower puree which tasted pretty much like the soup, but sans the ‘shrooms ‘n’ pancetta. Here, the mild taste played well with the moist, seared fish.

I couldn’t resist the Foie Gras Breakfast Sandwich. What a crazy dish! A moist and mapley griddle cake is topped with thin-as-air slices of Canadian bacon, a perfectly fried egg, a medallion of foie gras and black truffle. It is positively one of the richest things I have eaten in a long time. After all, foie gras translates to “fatty liver,” and what seemed at first to be a moderate portion was superbly filling. I could barely put away my Moon Pie (…oops — can’t call it that anymore! And they have the lawyer’s letters to prove it).

Expertly seared Scallops were joined by sweet potato gnocchi, arugula and a puree of mushrooms topped with a pomegranate reduction. Just look at the picture.

The Corned Berkshire Pork Chop rested moistly on sprout kraut (gotta love this guy), a warm salad reminiscent of caraway, and smoked tomato gribiche (a mayo-style sauce made with hard-boiled egg yolks, mustard, oil, assorted spices and whatever else suits the chef’s fancy).

Dessert was paired with a cool Gerard Bertrand Muscat. Of course, we had the obligatory Moon Pie (see above legal disclaimer). We were also pleased to have the opportunity to sample the other dessert offerings. Check ’em out: Chocolate-Black Raspberry Gateau, the Lemon Poppy Cloud Cake with cranberry and honey rosemary ice cream, and the S’More Creme Brulee with little Graham tuiles poking out of marshmallow custard.

The Moon is back, with a vengeance! We now return you to our regularly scheduled program:

The appetizers set the bar for things to come. The Seared Diver Scallops are cuddled up on a bed of creamy risotto that hints at a salty prosciutto edge. The lucky little mollusks are then showered with a bit of black truffle and parmesan. The Roasted Chincoteague Oysters greet you with the snap of crisp bacon. But wait…after a couple of bites, you detect a hint of licorice: The aroma of anise released from warm fennel! Of course, I had the Fried Green Tomatoes (twice). These crunchy little discs (green Roma tomatoes, I suspect) are presented timbale-style, stacked with a pesto/onion compote. This is not your country diner presentation, dear reader! And, at the risk of annoying the Chronic Complainers, it was delightful.

The star of the soup/salad show is the Wild Mushroom Soup. Notes of sherry give way to the buttery texture of pignoli (pine) nuts, and the restrained spicing allows the woody mushrooms to shine through. Co-starring on that bill is the Organic Mixed Greens. The surprise here is the burrito-like presentation: The salad is wrapped in creamy, thin-as-air strips of Serrano. The chewiness of this dry-cured Spanish ham, sharing your fork with the olives, red onion and Valdeon (a creamy cow and goat’s milk blue cheese) sets off a textural party-in-your-mouth. On an earlier visit I also had the Reb Bibb Lettuce Salad with radish, cucumbers and parsnips topped with a pleasantly acidic banyuls vinaigrette (banyuls is a wine vinegar from grapes grown in the Banyuls-sur-Mer region of France). The violin-like tops of curly fiddlehead ferns provided the perfect denouement.

On my most recent visit I went (what I thought was) downscale and ordered the Fettuccini Bolognese. I love Bolognese sauce and have ordered it all over the country. What arrived as a topping for the al dente spinach fettuccine was a deliciously spiced cross between the richest “sloppy joe” filling and the lightest marinara you’ve ever had. Redolent with red and green peppers, tomato, and what I suspect was a softly spiced combination of lean beef, pork and veal (or at least two–I also tasted fried pancetta, or at least I think I did…), it satisfied both my inner fine diner and carnivore. On another visit I had the Slow Braised Veal Cheek, surrounded by mushrooms and au jus. Ladled over the tender meat was a puree of celeriac (a low-starch, celery-like root vegetable). Oh, and the veal was crowned with a surprise not on the menu: a tiny, sunny-side-up quail egg!

Dining companions ordered the Roasted Half Spring Chicken (simple wild rice and roasted veggies encouraged the crispy-skinned bird to dominate), the Duck Leg Confit (plopped squarely in the middle of the best tasting risotto I’ve ever had–raisins and goat cheese! Who wooda thought?), and Duck Three Ways with a perigourdine sauce (reduced stock (often veal) with truffles). The breast was seared and crispy, while the leg and thigh were served en confit.

Another member of our party had the Seared Scottish Salmon, ordered (and served) medium with lentils, leeks and a vinaigrette laced with coriander. At the risk of even more hyperbole, she went ballistic. Others had the Slow Roasted Pork Roulade (pork loin wrapped around a textural roller-coaster of shiitake mushrooms and chestnuts), the Braised Beef Short Ribs (meltin’ off-the-bone into a bed of chipotle/cheddar polenta), and the seared Rack of Lamb surrounded with a simple array of roasted vegetables.

Co-owners Meghan Gardner, Chef Lion Gardner, and former loyal customers-turned-business partners Tim Ragan and Randy Haney want the Blue Moon to continue to be what it has always been. Do you agree? Give them a try, and then post your comments below.

Note that the menu changes regularly and many of these goodies reviewed and pictured here might not be available. My experience so far has shown that this is not a problem, and there’s always something good waiting for you there.

The Blue Moon is located at 35 Baltimore Avenue. Always call for reservations (302) 227-6515. After dinner, you can stroll into the famous Blue Moon bar. Depending on your personal proclivities, you could make lots of new friends. And there is a Sunday Brunch from 10:30 ’til 2. Click here to see Blue Moon’s sample dinner menu. (D, Bar). Price range: Expensive +.

(Click to make reservations through OpenTable.com.)

Off-season Specials & Hours

Specials & Moods change quickly. Always call a restaurant first.

pp = per person.
BOGO = buy one, get one.
Bloody = bloody mary.
domestics = American-made beers (e.g., Bud).
imports = foreign beers (e.g., Heineken).
Rails = non call-brand alcohol.
Prix Fixe = one set price.
Mains = entrees.
Margs = margaritas.
Chix = chicken.
AYCE = all you can eat.
Lite = Miller Lite
drafts = draught beer.
Early Birds = arrive before a certain time.
Apps = Appetizers.
bottles = beer in a bottle.
à la carte = order off the menu (no prix fixe).
crafts = micro/artisanal brews (e.g., Old Leghumper Lager)

35 Baltimore Ave.
(302) 227-6515

OPEN TABLE logo copycrenh for specials

 

Sunday
Sunday Brunch
10-2
Bloodies and mimosas only
$3
Dinner
5-9
Happy Hour 6-8:30
Monday
Dinner 5-9
Happy Hour 6-8:30
Tuesday
Dinner 5-9
Tasting Tuesday 5 pm - 9 pm
3 courses paired with the perfect wine $45 or 4 courses $50
Happy Hour 6-8:30
Wednesday
Dinner 5-9
Happy Hour 6-8:30
Thursday
Dinner 5-9
Happy Hour 6-8:30
Friday
Dinner 5-9
Happy Hour 6-8:30
Saturday
Dinner 5-9
Happy Hour 6-8:30
Music and Video in the bar
The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. Dedicated server says:

    The term has traditionally referred to an “extra” moon, where a year which normally has 12 moons has 13 instead. The extra moon necessarily falls in one of the four seasons, giving that season four full moons instead of the usual three, and, hence, a blue moon.

  2. Bob says:

    This restaurant delivers consistently with a wonderful dining experience. Took my daughter for Dinner Saturday night and returned with my partner on Sunday for brunch. Both were exceptional. I had the Chicken for dinner and Rockfish for brunch. Food is just amazing and at this point I have had duck, fish, lobster, steak and lamb. I can’t say enough about how great this restaurant is. Pamala performing was really spectacular at brunch too. Love sharing the experience with the important people in my life. Will return again and again!

  3. Jeff says:

    Blue Moon is always a good bet for a high end meal!

  4. mark polo says:

    I understand about eating out on a holiday. So forgive me for grousing. I ALWAYS expect to pay more when I go there. Not a problem. And on Mothers day I don’t care that they reach into my pocket for a few more dollars…I don’t care. However, I do not expect to leave the restaurant hungry .
    The quality was wonderful, I had the steak and eggs…cooked to perfection(hash brown a little greasy but great taste), my partner had the waffle, fine, my mother-in-law, had the crab cake,filled with lumps of crab with a little salad, very little. The bread before was a delectable event in itself. With all this wonderfulness, we felt ripped off. We left hungry. Charge us 35.00 and throw in the drink and give more than two table spoons of potatoes. Charge 36.00 and give two crab cakes and a salad that towers the plate. On Mothers Day it is never about the cost. But it is about what you take away. What we took away was the memory of being hungry. The savvy server gave us bread to take home.

  5. RehoboLee says:

    Sadly, a farewell dinner for a friend who has moved permanently to Florida was a real bust this past Wednesday. There were few people in the dining rooms but a very large crowd enjoying a community dinner in the bar and adjoining environs. I think they got Lion’s share of the attention – every pun intended. Both duck entrees were woefully well done and my short rib arrived totally torched – blackened, more like evidence on CSI, than an entree at one of Rehoboth’s best restaurants. The pork and chicken got passing marks. But for a dinner for 5 at $325.00 – more than a disappointment.

  6. James Benson says:

    The Tuesday specials are wonderful.

  7. Alisa and Bob says:

    Somewhat enjoyed our dinner. The service was a bit unfriendly (as was the hostess). Enjoyed the quiet dinner experience. The food was good, but I found some of the pairings a bit odd. The fried green tomatoes were excellent and flavorfull without being greasy, but the basil pesto on them competed with the lovely light flavor of the green tomato. The steak we ordered was excellent as were the potatoes. The fish was lovely and perfectly cooked, but again a strange presentation with competing flavors. The Blueberry sauce and spatzel were excellent, but far to intense and rich to be with a light white fish. I can see this with a piece of game meat instead. The drinks were ok, but we did have fun in the disco/bar area after dinner

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