Last fall, huge machinery made short work of the old Gilligan’s restaurant building at 134 Market Street – right on the canal in Lewes- that started many years ago in a boat and a chicken coop (really!).
The new Gilligan’s Waterfront Restaurant is almost identical in size to the old building, but that’s where the similarity ends. The popular outdoor deck bar/dining is roomier, and that nasty tree over the outdoor deck that loved to drop stuff on your food is finally gone. Indoor dining has increased to about 62 seats, with the inside bar increasing from 6 to 12 seats. Dining is split into two dining rooms on either side of the new indoor bar. In a clever design move, the indoor bar is now parallel with the deck bar, thus streamlining service AND providing a canal view for patrons sitting inside. And Cheryl’s famous crabcakes are back and better than ever.
Gilligan’s owner Cheryl Tilton filled us in on Sip & Bite with the Rehoboth Foodie. Click here to listen!
Gilligan’s Waterfront Restaurant is known for unusual takes on otherwise standard items. For example, last night’s soup special was snapper turtle. You don’t hear that all the time! Though we had our minds set on other apps, reviews from a neighboring table were 100% positive. Who adds kale to crab dip!?! Well, Cheryl Tilton and her kitchen crew do just that, and it is a nice addition. The dip itself is mildly redolent of sherry, with a hint of Old Bay. We liked the homemade chips that accompanied. Another unusual appetizer (that must be shared!) is the Island Roast Pork Fries. A decadent nacho-like pile of pulled pork, pineapple, bacon, sliced jalapenos and, of course, cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Though everyone expressed surprise at the apparent excess, the plate was clean when it was finally wrenched out of our trembling hands.
I had the baby kale caprese salad and though it bears the name “caprese,” it’s a lot more than that. the mozzarella is in the form of croutons, and almonds add a crunchy element to the dish. It’s rounded out with basil and balsamic.
Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek1/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek2/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek3/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek4/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek5/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek6/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek7/11 That peach pound cake8/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek9/11 Gilligan’s: a Sneak Peek10/11 Strawberry/rhubarb pie-cake. Sublime.11/11
One of the mainstays at Gilligan’s is the “Dill-icious” shrimp salad. The bright kick of dill is enhanced by a squirt of Sriracha and the obligatory Old Bay. You can get that as a sandwich or over greens, of course.
No visit to Gilligan’s is complete without trying one of Cheryl’s crabcakes. I always say that crabcakes are like pretty much any regional food like BBQ, pizza, etc., in that no two are ever the same. I’ve seen them broiled, fried, baked in butter – you name it. The crabcake that has helped to keep Gilligan’s in business over these many years is quite generous – about baseball-sized. It is all lump crabmeat with a hint of Old Bay. I really like the restraint in the seasoning department. The outside coating is also lightly seasoned, but adds a very nice crunch to the experience. On our first visit since they opened, I ordered the crab cake because I had to. Now I order it every time. It is available as an entree (on our last visit it was cradled on a little mound of mashed ‘taters) or as a sandwich. I love the toasted roll – or you can order it cradled in greens.
Entrees start at around $20 and go up to around $27. Take a look at the grilled salmon dish in the photo gallery – it was beautifully presented (I love the slight char on top) and surrounded by a lake of very good white-bean gazpacho. A chopped hard-boiled egg and pea tendrils complete the plate. Like the great majority of restaurants here at the beach, Gilligan’s varies their menu around the seasons. Of course the mainstays are always available.
Owner Cheryl is the sole creator of Gilligan’s desserts. Truth be told, her heart of hearts lies in the realm of sweet goodies. In fact, it is often a mystery among the servers and kitchen staff as to what Cheryl will come up with. That’s why it is always part of a tableside narrative and not printed on the menu. A good indicator is what fruit is in season. Strawberries? peaches? … her sweet endings will probably feature those. On our last visit, the server very strongly recommended the strawberry/rhubarb pie-cake. It’s a pie! No, it’s a cake. Gadzooks… it’s both! Take at look in the gallery for this buttery confection. We also had the peach pound cake – with the peaches baked in to the cake. Again- see them in the gallery.
The obvious value-added at Gilligan’s Waterfront Restaurant is the amazing outdoor dining area. Cradled in and among the buildings that comprise The Inn at Canal Square, it is smack dab on the dock facing across the canal between Irish Eyes and the Wharf. The outside bar is covered (mercifully) so even if it rains, one can maintain one’s seat while sipping and biting there on the dock of the … canal.
It’s been no secret that Gilligan’s new inside design is attractive, yet VERY acoustically active. But I am not awarding a low noise grade, as Cheryl recently hired a brilliant acoustics consultant to design and install devices to quiet the rooms down. Get on over there. It’s roomy, bright, and lots of fun – not entirely unlike The Rehoboth Foodie.
Gilligan’s is at 134 Market St. in Lewes, tucked down that little hill on the canal. You can call for reservations at 302-644-7230.