Overall Food Service Noise Bathrooms Value

The Buttery

/ Updated on March 31, 2017
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It’s been a while since my original review of The Buttery was written (December 2007, to be exact!). Of course there were many updates along the way, but a lot has happened since then. Opening chefs Gary & Lorraine Papp moved on to their popular catering/bistro venture and are now the proud owners of their own restaurant, Palate Bistro & Catering in Rehoboth Beach. Executive Chef Aaron Berg has come and gone, and as 2015 drew to a close there was some question among locals if the Buttery would ever return to its former glory. Owners and founders John Donato and Twain Gonzalez had other obligations, and over 20 years owning a restaurant of that caliber is punishment enough for anybody. So fine-dining guru Donato and his partner struck a deal with The Gate House’s co-owner  and chef Wilson Gates and partners.

Wilmington natives Gretchen and Chip Gates, along with their sons Wilson and Taylor, brought over 60 years of combined culinary experience to the Gate House, replacing the original Café Azafran at 109 Market Street. Real-world experience in distinguished kitchens such as Jean-Georges in New York City and the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole became evident as the Gate House earned a reputation for high-minded dining in an extremely casual venue.

For well over 20 years, diners could pretty much rely on the fact that dinner (and lunch) at The Buttery would be an elegant yet casual experience, complete with uniformed, hovering servers and perpetually clean silverware quietly replaced on the downlow. The silver lining is that the new ownership is supremely qualified to carry on that popular tradition. Even better news, as of early 2017, is that Wilson has brought on former Bramble & Brine chef/owner Joey Churchman to head up the kitchen at The Buttery.  Joey’s feats in the kitchen were legendary at the popular Bramble & Brine in Rehoboth, and we have no doubt he will continue that at Lewes’ popular Buttery. Joe is an alumnus of Rehoboth’s Eden, the old Planet X, and Philadelphia’s shining star of abruzzese cuisine, LeVirtu,

So it was without much trepidation that I made several return visits to The Buttery. Our servers did a great job, using expert sleight-of-hand to change out used silverware for clean and timing courses in such a way that every dish arrived hot and freshly plated. Ahhh … Donato’s legacy lives on at The Buttery.

After a couple of early spring 2017 re-visits with Churchman at the helm, I am pleased to say that The Buttery is back to its old glory, bringing with it a modernist touch evidenced by Churchman’s signature plating style. His unmistakable influence makes occasional cameos in the form of dishes like duck, porchetta, crab cakes and steak. He loves flat slate, glimmering glass and bold schmears of brightly colored sauces. His schooling in graphic design and video production is not wasted on his dishes: They are as easy to look at as they are to eat. Don’t-miss plates (assuming they are on the menu, of course) include the Baked Brie with fig jam and candied pecans, the longstanding favorite Buttery Bleu Cheese Salad (as of spring 2017 replaced by a delicious romaine salad decorated with little white anchovies) and the as-beautiful-to-look-at-as-it-is-to-eat Tricolore Tortellini in cream sauce with English peas, prosciutto and shrimp. Buttery aficionados will be pleased to know that Wilson has kept many favorites on the menu. But do note that both Wilson and Churchman love to change the menu with very little notice.

Another Churchman touch is a new tasting menu – something entirely new for the traditional Buttery. He told me that he is pleased that Buttery guests have been venturing into the relatively unknown realm of the tasting and is hoping to expand the concept as the season approaches. So don’t be afraid of the new Buttery! The transition from Donato and Gonzalez to Gates (& partners) and Bramble & Brine alumnus Joe Churchman appears to have been seamless, with both the food and the service being delivered in true Buttery fashion.

Our most recent visit brought with it quite a surprise in the crab cake department, and I will say without any doubt that these will challenge even the best here in the Cape Region. A very subtle warmth enhances a gentle blend of spices that enhance the taste of the delicate meat. Another don’t miss is the crispy-skin snapper, prepared in an Asian style with miso. Take a look in the gallery for the fork-tender and perfectly executed porchetta – and the treatment of the tiny carrots on the plate is unforgettable. If that porchetta is still on the menu when you go, just get it. Trust me. The Buttery is open daily (always call off-season: 302-645-7755) and reservations are strongly suggested in-season. They have a Sunday Brunch and a surprisingly filling pub menu for the happy hour crowd.

The Buttery is ensconced in a proud old mansion that dominates the corner of Savannah Road and Second Street in historic Lewes. Dine on the porch, inside the dining room or in the pub. Click here for a look at the dinner menu. (B. (Sundays), L., D., Bar). Price range: Expensive -.

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)

2nd St. & Savannah
in Lewes
(302) 645-7755


Sunday
Sunday brunch 10:30-2
Bar menu in pub & veranda 2:30 - close
Happy Hour 5-7: Selected 1/2 price drinks at the bar. 5 for $5 @ 5 Five Buttery Bites each $5 from 5-7. Available in the Bar and the Lounge.
Special: 3 courses, $33 until 6:45 except holidays or events
Monday
Lunch 11:30 - 2:30
Dinner starts at 5
Bar menu in pub & veranda 2:30 - 4 and 5 to close
Happy Hour 5-7: Selected 1/2 price drinks at the bar. 5 for $5 @ 5 Five Buttery Bites each $5 from 5-7. Available in the Bar and the Lounge.
Special: 3 courses, $33 until 6:45 except holidays or events
Tuesday
Lunch 11:30 - 2:30
Dinner starts at 5
Bar menu in pub & veranda 2:30 - 4 and 5 to close
Happy Hour 5-7: Selected 1/2 price drinks at the bar. 5 for $5 @ 5 Five Buttery Bites each $5 from 5-7. Available in the Bar and the Lounge.
Special: 3 courses, $33 until 6:45 except holidays or events
Wednesday
Lunch 11:30 - 2:30
Dinner starts at 5
Bar menu in pub & veranda 2:30 - 4 and 5 to close
Happy Hour 5-7: Selected 1/2 price drinks at the bar. 5 for $5 @ 5 Five Buttery Bites each $5 from 5-7. Available in the Bar and the Lounge.
Special: 3 courses, $33 until 6:45 except holidays or events
Thursday
Lunch 11:30 - 2:30
Dinner starts at 5
Bar menu in pub & veranda 2:30 - 4 and 5 to close
Happy Hour 5-7: Selected 1/2 price drinks at the bar. 5 for $5 @ 5 Five Buttery Bites each $5 from 5-7. Available in the Bar and the Lounge.
Special: 3 courses, $33 until 6:45 except holidays or events
Friday
Lunch 11:30 - 2:30
Dinner starts at 5
Bar menu in pub & veranda 2:30 - 4 and 5 to close
Happy Hour 5-7: Selected 1/2 price drinks at the bar. 5 for $5 @ 5 Five Buttery Bites each $5 from 5-7. Available in the Bar and the Lounge.
Special: 3 courses, $33 until 6:45 except holidays or events
Saturday
Lunch 11:30 - 2:30
Dinner starts at 5
Bar menu in pub & veranda 2:30 - 4 and 5 to close
Special: 3 courses, $33 until 6:45 except holidays or events
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. Spencer says:

    New Year’s Ever 2016:
    Service: excellent, our server Robin was very warm and friendly, she made very casual but good suggestions during our time there. She was very busy but she did not let that bother here.
    Food: Amazing, the flavors were so pleasing but not bland, it was like a party in your mouth. The best was last, Tiramisu, oh my, now that was amazing, a great blend of flavors not too sweet, but smooth and creamy.
    What a great visit and treat for New Year’s Ever 2016

  2. George says:

    We took my sister and her daughter to the Buttery Sat. Nov. 5, 2016.
    The reservation and telling them we were celebrating my sister’s 65th BD seemed to go fine but that’s where it ended! The waitress seemed bored and not very attentive. The Entrees, 3 out of 4 were Luke warm at best and mediocre.
    I was looking out of the window wishing I had chosen Striper Bites where my wife and I dined last week. Will not be returning to the Buttery anytime soon 2 stars at best George A

  3. Rose Shinn says:

    We went to the Buttery last night for dinner for our anniversary. It was nothing like the exquisite dining experience of it’s heyday. The restaurant itself is worn and rather shabby. Our waiter was inept and acting like he was just putting in time. Our food was mediocre at best. We decided to quit before we incurred any more expense and opted out of dessert and coffee. For the prices that they charge they really need to up there game. We will not be returning.

  4. Spencer says:

    Dec 31, 2014
    We just had a New Year’s Eve dinner at the Buttery. I was the best dinner we have had in many years. The service was excellent and attention to detail was evident. All who were there were welcomed warmly. Our server was wonderful and paid attention to our comfort and satisfaction with the dinner. We were surprised by a special ending to our meal that was well over the top. Go back, you can be sure of that.

  5. Char says:

    Hubby and I checked out the burger night a few weeks ago, and disappointment is an understatement. Our burgers were ordered as medium well and well done. Both arrived looking like they were ready to dash off the plate and run to safety. A bloody mess. Hubby could stomach his, I could not. Sent it back and it came back the same exact way. I was able to eat around the edges and that was it. I also ordered a side salad instead of fries. My plate came out with fries and no salad. Finally got the tiny salad (which I was not aware I was being overcharged $5.00 for). My burger was taken off the bill with the excuse of “Well, when you’re putting out 80 burgers a night….”. Uh, yeah, then they should be cooked correctly!! If this “upscale” restaurant can’t cook a couple of burgers properly, I don’t have much faith in anything else on their menu. Certainly will NOT go back. I don’t like going out to eat and coming home hungry.

  6. Carolyn Gierasch says:

    We ate at the Buttery last Sunday evening (7/20/2024), I was very disappointed with the service and the food. They are definitely off their game for our last few visits. I have loved the Caesar Salad and have been ordering it for years. The last time I had it for lunch it was really over dressed! Soggy at best! On Sunday, I didn’t even recognize it as a Caesar. It was not made with Romaine lettuce and the dressing was bland and flat. The crab cakes were horrendous. I asked that they be cooked through and they were FRIED and burned on the bottom! I didn’t really eat much of them. The sides (if you could call them that, were shredded carrots and red cabbage slaw thrown on the top of the crab cakes! So disappointing! I should have known that the evening was not going to go well when I had to ask for a clean water glass! Also, I selected the chocolate flourless cake for dessert, but was told they didn’t have it and they would soon be taking it off the menu? I hope the chef can get his act together because it is one of my favorite places to go and lately it has been mediocre at best.

  7. Always Hungry says:

    I still enjoy The Buttery as I always did. You can’t beat their soups and the lamb is still the best around. It’s a classy but not pretentious place, and always worth a visit when in Lewes.

  8. Jacqueline Ferris says:

    Six of us went on Sunday night for a birthday celebration as a special treat. The service was hideously slow..over 1/2 hour just to get a drink. The very expensive crab cakes were mediocre at best, although one diner enjoyed the osso bucco. Lousy service, expensive prices and mediocre food. This local won’t go again.

  9. Paul Mannix says:

    Had dinner on a Saturday night in August as one of a group of 4. Quite a few checks in the plus column, but how does a white-table-cloth restaurant at the shore think they can serve a defrosted and almost tasteless fillet and call it “Summer Flounder?” As Kevin Kline says in “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Disappointed!”

  10. Charlyn Tanner says:

    We have eaten at the Buttery several times every season for 10 years. This year it was been a huge disappointment. we decided to go on a Sunday evening early to avoid any crowds. My mom has discovered she is gluten and dairy intolereant. After repeatedely asking and being reassured the rice was safe it was discovered it had wheat. The poor serever was extremely embarassed and apologetic. No one from the management or kitchen staff came to the table to discuss the issue. There were only 4 tables in the restuarant when we left. On top of the MAJOR lack of knowledge and concern for dietary restrictions my martini was warm and mussels were sandy. Shame on them for not taking 5 minutes out of there night to show a little concern for a huge mistake in awareness and exposure to someone with food allergies. Let alone crap drinks and food. Good luck Buttery we will spend our $300+ elsewhere.

  11. MM says:

    What is going on at The Buttery? Three of us met for dinner there last night, all Buttery fans, and without exception every member of the staff from the host to the bartender to the waiter was either rude, dismissive or out of sorts. They were filming a commercial on the veranda and the entire staff seemed genuinely frazzled, at the expense of their customers. On the positive side, the food was fabulous as always … blue cheese salad, kobe burger, swordfish sandwich, pate. But what a negative vibe! The host was an older gentleman, very sour demeanor. The bartender seemed upset at the management. The waiter, while adequate, seemed frightened and unable to crack a smile. I expect more from dining out.

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