Chesapeake & Maine

/ Updated on January 14, 2017

The old Finbar’s is long gone (do you remember Potpourri before that?), and Dogfish Head’s tribute to Eastern Seaboard seafood is going strong. Those of you who frequented Finbar’s will not recognize the place, except for vestiges of the bar on the right-hand wall. But even that has been brightened and streamlined. The interior, designed by James Beard restaurant design finalists Otto Architects LLC is nautical, bright with fish house-style subway tiles, lots of light woods and highlights. Speaking of lights, wait ’til you see the beautiful lighting. [Hear James Beard-nominated designer Josh Otto talk about the Chesapeake & Maine experience on Sip & Bite show!]

The concept pays homage to DFH boss Sam Calagione’s childhood vacation spots in Maine, and also DFH’s Eastern Shore locale near the Chesapeake. Calagione has wisely moved his relatively new GM/Chef duo Ryan Schwamberger and Kevin Downing over to do the opening duties at Chesapeake & Maine in order to hit the ground running. Disney organization veterans Ryan and Kevin kicked up the food at Dogfish head Brewings & Eats to substantially better levels, and their talents, combined with the existing chef and management, will hopefully keep Chesapeake & Maine running at top efficiency. Read more about Ryan & Kevin by clicking here.

Another pleasant surprise was noted barkeep Rob Bagley, occasionally at Michy’s Relaxed Dining. Rob will be a regular fixture behind the bar, and his creativity was quite evident during the party. By the way, Chesapeake & Maine has several cocktails ON TAP – including a delicious Moscow Mule. If you like ginger, don’t miss that one. Congrats, Rob, on landing the dream job of spring 2016.

I will preface this by reminding you that many Rehoboth restaurants delight in changing their menu. In many cases it makes sense, because it allows the kitchen to take advantage of seasonal ingredients. But it can be frustrating for a food writer. So though many of these things might not be on the menu when you go, you can use this as a guideline. I was honored to attend one of the media receptions there, and some of the menu items to which we were treated include the Maine lobster roll, warm Maryland crab dip (Gadzooks! It was sublime!), dayboat scallops seared before our very eyes, and a delicious seafood pho (pronounced “Fuh”) that combined the bright tastes of that Vietnamese soup with lobster, clams, mussels and shaved beef. Scroll through the photo gallery to see more.

On subsequent visits, we had the entree version of the seafood pho (not the traditional pho, of course, but quite delicious in its own right). It’s a very generous portion. The crab cakes are served with the sweet/spicy hushpuppies and the succotash, though you can indeed choose your sides from the selection of six. On our most recent visit, the Crispy pan-seared rockfish was replaced with black bass prepared in the same way. The preparation was quite nice, and the presentation was even better, with a chorus of littlenecks and pancetta decorating the plate.

When Chesapeake & Maine first opened, one of the stars of the show was he “Seacuterie” plate. It sported lobster sausage (quite good with a mild and delicate taste), a not-fishy-at-all smoked bluefish pate and – the star of the show [drumroll, please] – a crab cake scotch egg (see the pic in the gallery). The traditional scotch egg is a soft-boiled egg encased in sausage then quickly fried; enough to cook the sausage, bot not so long as to harden the yolk. The only place around here that I have seen these is The Pint in Millsboro. Well, Chesapeake & Maine’s version is true to form, but replace the sausage with crab cake. They roll it in a tasty panko coating, and fry it to a crispy finish. And the surprise inside? A soft, runny yolk that blends perfectly with the crab cake. Another don’t miss at Chesapeake & Maine.

Well, as of late fall 2016, the Seacuterie platter is a thing of the past, but one of my fondest wishes came true: The crabcake Scotch egg is now an individual item on the appetizer menu. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE! It is a shining star at Chesapeake & Maine and skillfully lays the groundwork for dishes to come.

The lobster poutine should not be missed. This nod to our neighbors to the north is loaded with cheezy lobster and a tasty combination of herbs. Think lobster mac & cheese, but with fries. I watched about 10 of these nicely presented dishes come flyin’ out of the kitchen last night in about an hour. They hit the comfort food nail on the head with this one.

Another sandwich that is fairly new on the menu is the fried oyster po’boy. Though not technically a po’boy (traditionally served on a fresh and crusty, crackly-on-the-outside-soft-&-yeasty-on-the-inside French baguette), this oyster sandwich is quite good nonetheless. I sprinkle on a bit of Tabasco to give it a little kick, but the crunchy crust on the oysters holds its own and makes for a great mouth feel.

Chesapeake & Maine is located next door to Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in the 4th block at 316 Rehoboth Avenue. At the moment, they are open 7 days starting at 4.

Not sure why you would, but feel free to call them at 302-226-3600.

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. Jerry says:

    Been to C&M a couple of times and not impressed at all. Mixed drinks too sweet and lazily made (not shook or stirred enough). Main courses not too good, seem to be missing something and expensive. Sandwiches (Lobster Roll & Land Sea) very good. Waited for well over an hour for main dishes to arrive and with 6 and 4 year olds a challenge. Uncaring staff without a clue as to whats happening or what to do. C&M in empty and Dog Fish Head packed.

  2. Ron Bass says:

    Enjoyed the lobster roll with side of hot butter to pour on. Excellent. But why does each new spot look to see how they can make the dining experience even louder? All hard surfaces again. Not as loud as some other new restaurants, but unnessarily noisy.

  3. Genevieve says:

    I was one of the first to sit at the bar on opening night. Loved my two cocktails made with analog vodka, the farmer’s salad (fresh), and roasted oysters (plump and briny). The bar team of Rob, Corey and Katie are topnotch! Only miscalculation was the height of the bar stools. I and 3 other women of average height (but not long torso) had to stretch to reach. The beautiful bull nosed edge of the bar added another 2 inches which made dining uncomfortable.

  4. Leslie says:

    We cannot wait! We’ve learned to wait a few weeks after the grand opening of any restaurant (so they can iron out the rough edges). This sounds like a wonderful addition to all of the great restaurants in Reho!

  5. fightingbluehen says:

    The steamed lobster with mussels and soft shell clams (they are called “pisser clams” on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay) served with finger potatoes were very good. Remember that “pisser clams”( they call them that because they have a spout that shoots out water) ingest a lot of sand, so it’s a good idea to have a cup of broth to dunk them in before eating.

    I thought the star of the show was the smoked sea salt infused oysters on the half shell. They really do have a smokey taste! The oysters apparently live in smoked sea salt water for a time to acquire the taste. Pretty ground breaking in my opinion.

  6. Mike says:

    Minor correction: pho is pronounced “fuh.”

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