Overall Food Service Noise Bathrooms Value

Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch

/ Updated on March 11, 2017
Overall
Food
Service
Noise
Bathrooms
Value

You won’t find it unless you’re looking for it. Turn west onto Rt. 16 from Coastal Highway and drive about 5 minutes. As you enter Milton, the first thing you’ll see on the right is a Dollar General sign. Make the very next right and turn into that lot. Drive around toward the back of the building. You will be rewarded with the Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch restaurant. If Po’Boys were any more nondescript, it wouldn’t be there at all. But don’t be fooled! Chef Mike Clampitt’s reincarnation of the 4-year-old tribute to New Orleans cuisine is nothing less than a slam dunk.

This is not Mike’s first time at bat. The classically trained chef (Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts graduate, no less) dreamed of owning a small eatery where he could walk back and forth between the kitchen and front of house, visit with his guests and add his personal touch to their dining experience. Though he created a stellar reputation at Baywood Greens Golf & Country Club Clubhouse restaurant (and Ballroom), that venue was certainly not conducive to the intimate connection he wanted with his diners. So when his friends and former Po’Boys owners Lee and Amy Stewart decided to move on, they were delighted to find a professional like Clampitt who shared their love for Cajun and Creole food. In fact, the starting points for many of Mike’s menu items are Stewart’s own recipes.

UPDATE: Congratulations to chef/owner Mike Clampitt for winning both Top Chef and Food We Couldn’t Live Without awards at the 2015 Top Chef of the Culinary Coast event for Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth!

I was going to say, “So, to make a long story short…” but I believe that ship has sailed. Sorry, and thank you for your patience. Let’s get down to business.

Back in my radio broadcasting days, I spent a lot of time in New Orleans and got to know the food quite well. My initial go-to dishes are always gumbo, jambalaya, blackened redfish (or catfish) and some sort of étouffée. There is a certain way they have to taste, and any deviation from that just makes them into something else. Clampitt’s Chicken and Andouille Gumbo is hands down as good as any I have had in the Crescent City. It is loaded with chicken and andouille sausage with a little rice thrown in for good measure. In fact, last week I had a cup of gumbo for dessert. (I really did: Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.)

The perfectly brown roux is not at all clumpy or floury, and the generous portions of meat and veggies ensure that every silky spoonful contains a bit of everything. I whined a bit in the first article here that Mike didn’t have the proper selection of hot sauces on the table, and I think he heard me. Depending on where you sit, you might encounter Crystal, Pete’s, Tabasco and even Frank’s Louisiana Red Hot. Feel free to walk around and mix and match (the best for Cajun food? Crystal, of course, with Tabasco a very close second). I think my new friend Riess (Po’Boys’ neighbor in nearby Broadkill Beach) would agree — he grew up in Louisiana near Avery Island where Tabasco peppers are grown. Riess, let’s keep on Mike to keep a good selection of sauces!

Over my multiple visits, I have brought numerous people (including several restaurateurs and professional chefs) to Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch for the jambalaya. Everybody loves it. Reminiscent of the saffron-tinged Spanish Paella (but without the clams/oysters/octopus, etc.), this amalgam of French and Spanish culture is redolent of gumbo filé (ground up sassafras leaves used in Creole cooking). Generous portions of chicken, Andouille sausage, shrimp and the mandatory trinity (celery, peppers, onions) are happily swaddled in spicy rice plump with delicious, earthy stock. Everything in there is good, but the shrimp are the stars of the show, adding their own particular flavor to the dish. I just might get this for dessert one night. I just might.

One of Mike’s long suits is obviously the art (and science) of blackening. Though many feel the traditional fish to blacken should be redfish (not really a single type of fish, but a general name for snapper, roughy, drum and even perch), Mike’s choice of catfish fills the bill just fine. You can get it drizzled with Creole tomato butter or lemon-caper butter. We had both and they are equally good. So alternate. Life is short. Carpe that catfish!

The properly blackened filet is accompanied by crispy fries (with a mild Cajun sprinkle) and greens.

Now we have to pause here to make one thing perfectly clear. At the risk of sounding like Clampitt mails me a check every week (he doesn’t), these greens are the best I have ever had. And I DO NOT LIKE greens. I have found them to be typically soggy, one-dimensionally vinegary, and often slimy with grease. The greens at Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch are none of those things. In fact, they are nicely firm to the tooth (but not papery), have layers of flavor gently anchored with acid, and though he flavors them with some sort of protein, they are not greasy in the least. These are the greens to which other greens come to learn how to be green-like.

Speaking of sides, don’t miss the cornbread. It is not that sweet/cheesy variety so popular nowadays, and the taste of the cornmeal definitely stands out not only in the flavor but also the texture. The loose, almost cakey consistency is pleasant to chew, and no meal should start (or be) without it. (Crumble it up into your gumbo. You will be transported.)

This will probably get me a poison-pen email from Mike (and it wouldn’t be my first from this neck of the woods!), but if you like your Cajun/Creole seafood blackened, ask them to make you an entrée portion of the Blackened Scallops appetizer. In fact that should be on the entrée menu anyway. These things are ridiculously good. It’s no surprise that the chef can cook a scallop properly (cooking 101), but the combination of seasonings and the light, well-textured crust make for a perfect bite. During our visits, they were using the “dayboat” (big) scallops that stood up to the intense heat of the blackening process with nary a whimper. The ad hoc entree preparation included Parmesan Grits that were delicious. I have complained before about grits that hold their shape on the plate, but these didn’t remind me of slowly drying concrete. They were softly firm, yet still creamy, brightly cheesy and quite good. Blackened Scallops, parm grits and greens. WOW. All I’m missing is a washboard, a squeezebox and a pet alligator named Bubba.

Nobody’s perfect, and Po’Boys’ fried pickles prove that. Sadly, they are cut in rounds that are waayy too thin. This allows the pickle to begin to disintegrate and become flaccid long before the breading has a chance to brown. It all ends up as a limp little chip off of which the breading slides ignominiously. Even the act of dipping them in the accompanying sauce pulled the breading off. The pickle chunks need to be thicker (or use spears) to stand up to the fryer long enough for the coating to get firm and crispy. I like this place so much that I didn’t even take a photo of them. But I have to tell you the truth or you won’t come visit me here any more. (Now remember; as of this writing, Po’Boys has only been open for a couple of weeks. I hold out hope that the pickles are a work in progress. I will report back.)

Want a nice appetizer? Get the Fried Oysters. They are everything you want a fried oyster to be, and only 2 — maybe 3 — Rehoboth area restaurants live up to these. And what sets Po’Boys’ apart is the cornmeal-based dredge. It’s firm without being bready, and makes for a great mouth feel against the smoothness of the oysters. Mike applies a similar treatment to the Cajun Calamari, again adding a firm “corny” texture to the otherwise smooth and soft squid.

One of my happy places is Johnny’s Po’Boys on St. Louis St. in New Orleans. Close your eyes for a moment (this made me laugh as I typed. How else could you read it?). Well, imagine this anyway: A crackly on the outside, white and yeasty on the inside French roll, still a little warm and slathered with a bracing remoulade (think thousand island with personality),  stuffed to the breaking point with crispy, crunchy who-knows-what, with cool cole slaw. The Po’Boy sandwich is the poster child of Cajun street food. I used to get the fried oyster and shrimp Po’Boy there in the French Quarter. I’d make it into a Peacemaker by adding bacon. The delicate crunch of the bread as I took the first bite …excuse me for a moment….

OK, I’m back, and we’re in Milton again. Not a bad thing, however, because I had the Zydeco Po’Boy last time I was there. The Zydeco is the Bluto of Po’Boy sandwiches there on Rt. 16. It’s got a crabcake, fried shrimp and fried oysters. They are piled up about twice the height of the roll (so you have to eat a few with your fingers so you can even pick the thing up). If I had to whine about something, it would be the roll. Yes, it was perfectly fresh, and very nice as rolls go, but I yearned for that light French baguette crisp on the outside. Again, I suspect that the chef is feeling his way in these early days, and perhaps a more authentic baguette-style Po’Boy roll is in the offing. This is no reason to eschew Po’Boys’ po’poys, however. The contents approach perfection.

The Crawfish Étouffée lives up to its close cousin, the jambalaya. The main difference is that it’s saucier and everything’s not mixed together. The crawfish-laden roux-based sauce is served over a bed of rice. It’s like eating a bunch of little lobster tails. Speaking of cousins, the special last night was none other than Paella. The traditional clams in the shell were replaced by happy little crawfish. Our dining companion ordered it without rice (really? The next time I’m in his restaurant I’m ordering a pizza with no crust!). Chops busting aside, it was delicious and very specifically Creole in its presentation.

UPDATE: We actually go quite often, so consider this a “group update.” Some of the specials that stood out were the lobster mac & cheese with an actual lobster tail removed from the shell and placed atop a penne mac & cheese with a lightly crunchy panko crust. I think the description says it all. The lobster was perfectly cooked, and the combination of cheeses was amazing. My favorite Foodie-in-Waiting ordered Mike’s own Asparagus Dumpling soup. It was like a cream pea soup with perfectly firm dumplings cavorting throughout. Last but not least one of Mike’s specials is a traditional Muffuletta sandwich — well, as traditional as it can be without the crusty boule they use in New Orleans. But Mike’s selection of Italian meats and the wonderful olive spread was as close to Canal Street as you’ll get and still be on this side of the Mississippi.

On with the show…..

I can’t leave you without talking about Blotto Gelato. A couple of local friends of Mike’s make a line of handmade ice creams and sorbets. One of their latest creations is alcohol-based ice creams. Take your choice of three: Shimmy Shakin’ Maple Bacon (brown sugar base with REALbacon and maple flavored whisky). It made its debut on Aug. 31, International Bacon Day! Or maybe Bourbon Milk (10X sugar ice cream with nutmeg and bourbon). Inspired by Bourbon Milk Punch and was a favorite of Ben Franklin’s. (What else could make him fly a kite in the middle of an electrical storm!?!?!) Last but not least, On The Couch (a white sugar-base ice cream infused with cherries and cherry bourbon). After some of this delicious confection, you will understand how it got its name. Goodnight, ladies & gentlemen. Bring your ID, because you ain’t gittin’ any unless you can prove you’re 21.

YET ANOTHER ANNOYING UPDATE: The noise rating for Po’Boys has been improved from a 2.5 (it was terrible in there when crowded) to a solid 5. Owner/chef Mike Clampitt took the plunge and hired an extremely talented acoustics consultant to map out the right places to get rid of unnecessary echoes. If you left before because it was noisy, you’re gonna love it now. Since the original version of this article was posted, Kathleen Balfont (owner of Blotto Gelato) took on the Delaware Powers-that-Be to reverse outdated laws that restricted the sale of food with low levels of alcohol. She has prevailed, and the Governor signed the bill into law at Po’Boys on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. So bring it on!

Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch is officially located at 900 Palmer St. in Milton. This is a very informal place with a few colorful tchotchkes on the wall, mismatched tables and chairs and a storefront window. And that’s all part of the charm. It’s obvious after you go that it’s all about the food. They are open for lunch and dinner from 11 – 9 and usually close Mondays and Tuesdays in the off-season. Always call to make sure (302) 684-0890. They have a small but interesting selection of craft brews. I suggest the Abita Grapefruit IPA (they also carry Turbo Dog) — if they are in season when you go. THE DFH Namaste is also delicious and they have an A#1 mug chiller for those who like their brew frosty. A couple of Dixies (including Blackened Voodoo!) are also there for the sipping — in those ice-cold pint glasses! Nice touch.

Check out their website and menu by clicking here.

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)

Rt. 16, on the right as you enter Milton from the east
(302) 684-0890

Sunday
Open 11-9

Sunday Brunch
Monday
Closed
Tuesday
Closed
Wednesday
Open 11-9
for lunch & dinner
Thursday
Open 11-9
for lunch & dinner
Friday
Open 11-9
for lunch & dinner
Saturday
Open 11-9
for lunch & dinner
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. DEMATTMAN says:

    We celebrated a friend’s birthday last night and glad we made a reservation for the 10 of us; the place was full up to closing time. I chose the paella from the nightly special board and happy I did! The creole concoction featured fresh shrimp, oysters and crawfish and was delicious! Our group ordered a lot of different items and shared almost all. We all left happy, satisfied and thankful to have such a wonderful New Orleans themed restaurant in our area.

  2. Nola says:

    I heart NOLA. The gumbo is so tasty and as good as the many bowls I’ve had in the city…looking forward to trying the étouffée. I hear Po Boys is doing a nice po boy and that is next. My only complaint and what is needy of attention to convince me…their beignet. Fix that one and I’ll love you forever!

  3. Ellen Passman says:

    Having tried New Orleans food everywhere in the area, and been very disappointed, I am very excited that Po Boys is a Creole success. Foodies know that every restaurant has an occasional bad night, loyalty makes the pallet grow stronger …..and improves the venue. Po Boy’s gumbo has been my go to soup since the day they opened. Just getting back to town so I am look ing forward to digging into a bowl of Mike’s creation. Welcome to the neighborhood. The gelato selections sound awesome.

  4. Tuesday Night Supper says:

    We were regular visitors to Po Boys for the last couple of years. We have gone there often enough that the server recognized us-and knew our drink order before we even said it. The last time we ate dinner there, my husband and I were with another couple, and it was the same night that the Foodie was there (the night that Paella was the special).
    We ordered a fried catfish dinner, a blackened catfish dinner, a crab cake dinner and Paella. It took almost an hour to get our dinners. We would have left but we saw our dinners in the kitchen. When the dinners were brought out, the food was cold and no apologies were made. The food is excellent but I was extremely disappointed in the long wait. I don’t know if we will ever go back. I can understand that it may take longer than usual while new cooks get used to the kitchen, but no apologies were made

  5. patrick corbett says:

    delighted to find PoBoy’s open on fat tuesday. what a great place to celebrate. Mike’s prix fixe menu wasn’t what l would have normally ordered but one has to get out of ones comfort zone on occasion. All was delish !!!Can’t wait to go for brunch

  6. Alex & Deb says:

    We went a few times last year. Food was OK, but it was different every time. Read your article here and went last week. DELICIOUS! You hit the nail on the head this time, foodie. We’re going back tonight.

  7. Doug Welch says:

    The food and service are excellent. Always have been for that matter. Been there 3 times this month. I tried the sausage and pepper po-boy on Thursday. Best po-boy I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten many good ones during many visits to Biloxi, New Orleans, and other spots on the gulf coast. Their soups are so good, I just order one every time without looking at the menu. Great job MIke

  8. MJ Ostinato says:

    I usually get the scallop appetizer as my entree, maybe with a side of beans and rice, but glad you suggested that he make an entree version if it. I haven’t been there since Mike Clampitt took over, but now I’m going to make sure I do!

  9. MC says:

    I have known Mike Clampitt since his Tijuana Taxi days – he is one of the nicest and hardest working guys you’ll ever meet! And a fabulous chef! Once again Foodie, love your descriptions of everything. Can hardly wait to try Po’Boys. Wishing you great success Mike!

  10. Always Hungry says:

    Outside of the French Quarter, this is the only gumbo I’ve had that tastes like gumbo. The greens are exceptional, and the jambalaya doesn’t disappoint. The chef is excellent, and I’d like to go back soon to try the specials. Even if you don’t live in Milton, truly worth the drive!

Add Your Comment

What would you like to do?

Advertisement