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The Backyard

/ Updated on September 11, 2017

Ami Rae, queen of the Cake Pops at Vintage Cafe/Vintage Pasta in downtown Milton, has moved up to the east side (and a little bit north), with her new Backyard restaurant on Rt. 16 near Union Street in Milton, De. She has partnered with Joseph Charles and his wife, Edith Enriquez. The result is a larger, more accessible location,  a bigger kitchen and the addition of dinner hours. Enriquez is the baker in the group, and her cookies, scones and macaroons are the stuff of Rt. 16 legend. (Check out the cookie photos in the gallery!) Charles brings his Culinary Institute of America chops to the place and keeps a lively menu with creative specials like the recent Twisted Tuna Salad on Ciabatta with Spinach and Swiss. The soup of the day was Apple Rutabaga and it was quite good.

I have to say that early returns shortly after the restaurant opened in late 2013 suggested a bit of confusion in the service/attitude department, but that appears to be a thing of the past and is certainly not unusual for a newly opened eatery. I visited The Backyard 6 times just to make sure, and the place is bright, clean and full of friendly servers. General Manager Brenda Martin (long-time Cape Region restaurant maven) is certainly a value added.

On my most recent lunch visit (on a late-October Monday), the place was so crowded that I had to park next door. There was one table left. The Backyard has obviously caught on. Things were running smoothly, and our server was polite, upbeat and efficient. Another recent visit for breakfast in spring, 2015 proved that things are still on track there: Great service, and tasty breakfast sandwiches.

The appetizer menu is clever and tempting, but the hands-down star of the show is the Grit Fritters. I liked these so much I featured them as a “sneak peek” on the front page slideshow for a week before this article was finished. They are everything you want cheese grits to be: Cheesy enough to be moist and satisfying, but with the taste of the grits still very apparent. And the kicker is that when they cool off a bit, they are still moist. Usually grits turn to cement when cool – but these remain happily to the tooth. Yes they are filling, so order them to share. If you like grits, you will love these.

The appetizer list is an unabashed tribute to comfort food. The Calamari is properly cooked, crispy and properly salty, and the Mussels are generously portioned with enough bread for sopping up the tasty broth. Avocado Fries are just that: strips of avocado, lightly breaded and fried. Avocado lovers will enjoy these, though they are quite mild – not unlike an avocado, in fact (duh…).  Speaking of tributes, fans of friture can have a field day on Tuesday French Fry Night. Yup, an entirely separate menu devoted to things that are fried. (I had a dream like that once…..) Cheese Fries (with white cheddar). Parm Fries (with parmesan and garlic). Goat Fries (chevre with raspberry chipotle jam). Buffalo Bleu Fries (yup, you guessed it. Complete with wing sauce). Blue Crab Fries (Old Bay, cheddar, lump crab). Reuben Fries (topped with shredded corned beef, sauerkraut, white cheddar and thousand island. The only thing missing is a big fat bright green half-done Kosher dill). Steak Fries (flank steak with caramelized onions, white cheddar and roasted peppers). And last but certainly not least, the Trucker Fries (BBQ pork, onions and cheddar). Add gravy to any of these and you have the beginnings of a proper Canadian poutine! Now before you send me sanctimonious emails about the horrors of fried food, I am certainly not suggesting that these items comprise 100% of your meal. And I'm sure Ami, Brenda, Charles and the rest of the crew agree; after all, Tuesday only comes around once a week. But if you're feeling decadent, this is the place to do it. I will admit that a number of these items do appear here in my photo gallery. I do it all for you, dear Visitor. (Pass the Sriracha mayo, please….)

The Backyard in Milton is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a surprisingly large selection of items for such a moderately sized facility. My experience with breakfast is limited to a bacon (nice & crispy) & cheddar omelet, but I do have to tell you about their biscuits (see the gallery). They are sort of a cross between an English muffin and a traditional biscuit, and they are full of flavor. I will add to the breakfasty angle of this article as time and waist size permit. You can create your own omelet from a well-stacked selection of meats, cheese and veggies. Pre-built offerings include the Baconator (do I really have to tell you?), the Surfer (think western omelet without the meat) and of course the obligatory Mrs. Potato Head (potatoes, spinach, onions and gouda). You can have lots of fun at this place. I appreciated their sense of humor on the walls at Vintage Cafe and I appreciate it at The Backyard. (Check out the signs in the bathrooms.)

Lunches range from light bites to filling plates that will make any dedicated fresser smile. There is often a nice soup du jour, and if they are not too busy they are happy to bring out a little bit for your tasting pleasure. Seven very different salads are on the lunch list, offering everything from spinach to beets, from steak to quinoa. I ordered the Grilled Shrimp Salad (asparagus, quinoa and honey lime) on my second visit and sat right there and ate the thing without ever taking a photo! Boy was I annoyed. For what it's worth, it was quite good, though I would have liked a bit more dressing. I'm sure if I had asked they would have happily complied.

Sixteen (count 'em, 16!) sandwiches are on the lunch menu. The first time I was there I asked the server's suggestion and she said to get The Farmer. Basically a ham and cheese sandwich (on fresh ciabatta), The Farmer is kicked up with thin slices of Granny Smith and a mild honey mustard dressing. One of my Favorite Foodettes who works in Milton loves the Summer Sandwich (hummus, cheddar and cukes on that ciabatta). She proudly thinks she is eating lightly; I don't have the heart to tell her how much oil and carbohydrates are in hummus. Ignorance is bliss, and she is blissfully cute and sweet. So I will keep quiet.

Again, I have to compliment The Backyard's sense of humor: Their regular hamburger is offered with a number of toppings, from caramelized onion to mushrooms. Then underneath is the “Common Sense Burger.” You might think it arrives perched on an annoying leaf of watercress with a grape carved into the shape of a rose. Well no. It's decorated with cheddar, bacon and guac! I guess they figure that if you're going to order a burger, then common sense dictates that it should taste good. I had it. It did. I was in incognito mode on the first couple of visits, so there is no photo. I'll go back soon and get a good one (photo, that is … the burger's already good).

The chicken salad is mild and slightly chunky. It is accompanied by swiss, lettuce, tomato and is served on a buttery croissant. If you like the classic Cuban, you will enjoy the Little Havana. It's stacked with all the required goodies and it's on that ciabatta. Almost makes me want to light up a nice fat Cohiba.

A healthy surprise on the dinner menu is the Cauliflower Steak. This is a meal in itself and would make Deb Griffin, RehobothFoodie.com's resident gnawer of roots, bark, herbs (and hot fudge), sit up and take notice. The cross-cut slice of cauliflower is either roasted or fried (it's got a nice crunchy coating), sprinkled with goat cheese and served with spring mix and the veggie du jour. My new friend Dr. Cat loved it. She's slim & trim, so I can say nothing snide about cauliflower. It's a HIPAA thing.

The Spring Pasta dish is also very much in a vegetarian direction with oricchiette and veggies. Pesto tops it off. I was starting to hallucinate at all this veggie-centered stuff, so I tried to balance things out with the Pork Loin entree. But even then they managed to keep things a bit on the healthy side with a bed of some of the most delicious cauliflower mashers I've ever had. It was topped with bright green and still firm asparagus with a bracing pan-sauce laced with whole grain mustard. Check out the gallery. It tasted as good as it looks. I also highly recommend the Short Rib platter. And get this: It's bison! I love bison, and these ribs were perfectly done with their signature apple/jicama slaw. I will happily eat where the buffalo roam if these ribs are on the menu. Again, they made for a nice photo.

By the way, we managed to balance out the admittedly delicious cauliflower with the Crab Fries. Lots of crab meat and brightly spiced. Think of a Canadian poutine, then add lump crab and sub white cheddar for gravy.

Several features set The Backyard apart from many other restaurants. They actually have a real, authentic … back yard. It is entirely fenced in and sports a big patio with chairs, tables and umbrellas, and a couple of huge chalkboards for the kids. They can roam to their heart's content because the fence is tall and secure. So when the kids get fidgety and start to drive you crazy, you simply send them out back for 10-12 laps around the yard. In the summer The Backyard fires up a real, authentic, Italian, wood-fired and domed pizza oven. So summers in the back yard at The Backyard are rife with freshly baked pizzas, and kiddy scribbles on the chalkboards (after they run laps…).

The Backyard in Milton has a nice bar and one of my favorite beers on tap: Fat Tire. Special cocktails often appear, and the place has a relaxed ambiance. This is Milton, De., of course, so a selection of Dogfish Head Brews is available. And note that Swell Joe Coffee is their house brand (yes, you saw it at Surf Bagel, and it's good). If I had one gripe in the ambiance department, I would strongly suggest they dim the bright lights in the evening. The white walls and the austere decor is modern and refreshing, but when it's dark outside the bright lights bring a glare that would go away with the installation of a dimmer. Just sayin'….

The little town of Milton is really coming into its own when it comes to restauranting (not to mention beer). The Backyard is at 211 Broadkill Road (Rt. 16) in Milton, just a block past Po'Boys Creole & Fresh Catch. It's on the left before the light at Union St. At the moment they are still open 7 days from 7-9. Call in the off-season just to make sure 302-684-3440. (B, L, D, Bar) Price range: Moderate -.

See the breakfast menu here.

See the lunch menu here.

See the dinner menu here.

See the Kids' menu and bakery menu here.

Follow them on Facebook.

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. Avatar Sheronda says:

    An adorable local gem. Attentive service and the food is good, and reasonably priced. Will definitely be back.

  2. Avatar Scott Jansen says:

    Have eaten here many times.Breakfast is their best meal in my opinion.Service is great, but their lack of wi-fi service in 2018 is shocking- especially if you are a business person who needs to stay in contact with the office or clients during your lunch or dinner. Speaking with the owner about this was met with resistance and complete lack of interest,shocking response from a business owner of a business that relies on locals for 9 months of the year.

  3. Avatar Sam Reklaw says:

    I tried the avacado fries they were a bit cold and flavorless. Not crisp and lacking salt. As a preface, all our hot food was barely warm. The side of gravy was cool. It was in a disposable plastic container so it got really cold fast. My strip steak was in the shape of a square cube. It was very salty but cooked to medium rare as requested. The side salads were very good and presented well. Salad dressings were just OK. This is my third visit and my last. Too many things not good enough to go back.

  4. Avatar Jim Goldstein says:

    I agree with the review of Leslie. We just ate there meeting friends from Bethany who were up in the area. One word “delicious”. The fried green tomatoes are wonderful and not overly deep fried. Had the stuffed egglplant and my wife had the tuna special. Very good food which is fairly priced. Wonderful service by Tony as well. Overall, a winner and we will be back. JIM

  5. Avatar Leslie says:

    A real find! It’s nice to get away from the tourists, and go to a “locals” restaurant. Great atmosphere, very friendly, and the best Cuban sandwich on the planet. Do give Backyard a try!

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