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Bluecoast Bethany

/ Updated on November 20, 2019

RedFin, Bluecoast's predecessor in Bethany Beach, was one of the late Matt Haley's first restaurant ventures. Shortly after it became Bluecoast, it also became one of the very first reviews I wrote for RehobothFoodie.com almost 5 years ago. No photos, no bells, no whistles, no ratings, no links. – Those were the dark ages.

Since then, this website has been visited by thousands upon thousands of Foodie Fans, and Bluecoast owner Matt Haley's organization now has 8 restaurants here on the DE coast, plus a multitude of awards, nominations and honors (including three national and international humanitarian awards in 2014 alone). My, how tempus does fugit! It is sad that we no longer have Matt with us.

So rather than add/subtract text and photos to keep the review current like I usually do, I figured I'’d just write an entirely new article. And that’s where I started to get nervous. When revisiting a place that I really liked, I quietly worry that it might not live up to my expectations. I admire Matt and his army of chefs and managers, but if it’'s not good I still have to tell the truth (if I didn'’t you probably wouldn'’t be on this site right now). So it was with nagging trepidation and a pervading sense of unease that I returned to Bluecoast (twice) for a follow-up.

I tried to find things to criticize. But the simple fact is that we do have some consistently good eateries here at the beach, and Bluecoast, after all these years, is still one of the best.

Bluecoast capitalizes on its location with massive picture windows looking west out onto Salt Pond, making for great sunset views. A light-attenuating shade keeps the sun from toasting your retinas late in the day, but as the sun sets (get ready for this…), the motorized shade, as if by magic, quietly raises so you can watch the event. As a lover of buttons, knobs and things that go blink in the night, I would like to think that it is totally automatic, but perhaps one of the servers is tasked with keeping an eye toward the west and a finger on the switch. Doesn't matter — the whole effect is cool.

The restaurant is understated in typical Haley style, with lots of white space on the walls. A value-added is the little waiting area, where you can while-away the often long in-season waits over a cocktail, a glass of wine and an appetizer. You can even buy some of SoDel Concepts' homemade goodies there, like the delicious Black & White soft drink (think ginger ale on steroids!).

OK, enough chit-chat. Start with the Calamari. I didn't even like the stuff until I first had it at RedFin/Bluecoast. It's crispy, salty, totally devoid of excess grease, and is served simply and austerely with red sauce and lemon. Nothing is more annoying than a restaurant that slathers on some sort of gooey dressing. It’s like eating soggy wads of rubber bands that taste like mayo. WHY!?! If the delicate crispiness of that poor maligned cephalopod can’'t stand on its own, then take it off the menu. There I said it. So trust your Foodie and start with the Calamari. (I know, I said that too.)

On previous visits, I've had the Crab Salad Sliders on those plumply decadent potato mini-rolls, though sadly they are a seasonal item. But if they are on the menu, try them. Also try the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (you even get chopsticks). Both are delicious and consistent every time (when you can get them…).

One of the stars of the appetizer show is the Blue Crab Claws under a sprinkle of Old Bay. Again, –why gild the lily ? They are served with nothing other than a mild cocktail sauce and a lemon wedge. You pick them up by the claw like a wonderful crustacean lollipop and simply bite off the meat. Another must-get at Bluecoast.

Accompanying diners have also enjoyed the Roasted PEI Mussels bubbled in Troeg’s beer with andouille, garlic, fennel and chili butter on toast. The Baby Kale Salad is a pick hit on the salad list, with crunchy almonds, red onion lemon and pecorino. I order it without the truffle oil. I will spare you my tirade about the overuse of truffle oil. Consider that a gift from me to you, dear reader.

On to the entrees. My favorite dining companion loves the Seared Day Boat Scallops, nestled into a puree of cauliflower and a medley of butternut squash, chunky brussels sprouts and bits of bacon. This dish is as close to perfect as a scallop dish can get. The delicate little shellfish rounds are perfectly cooked every time (undercook them and they are mushy – and possibly dangerous. Overcook them and it's like eating one of those big orange erasers you had in elementary school). Chef Doug Ruley used to serve these with with cheddar grits, but as much as I love grits I believe the creamy veggie puree is even better.

The Pan Seared New England Cod is another one of those dishes that is allowed to stand on its own without a lot of gooey falderal. Buttery whipped potatoes, bright green and still firm-to-the-tooth green beans and a tomato veal gravy (!) round out the dish. A forkful of that flakey white cod with a little of that gravy is like a bouncy castle in your mouth.

One of my favorite dishes at Haley's Catch 54 in Fenwick is the deviled eggs topped with tiny, crunchy fried scrapple straws and cool julienne radish. You have to try these. They make very rare cameos on the Bluecoast menu, so if the stars are aligned correctly, the fates smile upon you and you have been good, they might be there. Order two. They're addictive.

Deep down I wish they would offer the Fried Ipswich Clams there at Bluecoast, but they do feature them at Matt’s Fish Camp up the road and around the corner at Northeast Seafood Kitchen . I guess you can’'t have all the same stuff everywhere. So I get the fried oysters. They are delightfully plump and lightly crispy (not unlike your Foodie, actually). Though the menu pairs them with cheese grits, Chef Doug was kind enough to sub the Salt ‘n' Vinegar Tater Tots on the side. (Yup, Tater Tots. Don't frown. Just order them. You'll be surprised.)

Don't forget the sides. The ones that stand out include the Parmesan Herb Fries (don't let them sneak truffle oil in on you!), and the light and creamy slaw.

Bluecoast is just north of Bethany Beach between Rt. 1 and Salt Pond. They have lots of parking, and waits can be long in the summer. How sad for you: You'll be forced to lounge in an Adirondack chair on the front porch, sipping wine in a long-stemmed glass while monitoring the sunset over Salt Pond. You will survive, cool your jets: The reward of a seat inside will be worth it.

By the way, the relatively low-ceiling and windowed walls make for a fair amount of noise amplification. So be prepared. Order another cocktail and enjoy yourself. You're not nearly as delicate as you think you are.

Bluecoast is open 7 days year-round, and, like all of SoDelConcepts' eateries, offers great deals in the off-season. Check out the menu here. (302-539-7111) Price range: Expensive -.

RehobothFoodie.com notes the sad passing of chef, award-winning restaurateur and SoDelConcepts founder Matt Haley, who passed away on August 19th, 2014 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash while on a humanitarian trip in the mountains of India. Matt will be sorely missed by many, many people.

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)

1111 Coastal Hwy.
in Bethany Beach
(302) 537-0100

Open 5 - 9

Open 5 - 9
Open 5 - 9
Open 5 - 9

Open 5 - 9
Open 4 - 10

Open 4 - 10
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 Joey says:

    I’ve tried both this and Matt’s fish camp, and though I prefer The more blue collar atmosphere of the fish camp, bluecoast has better food. If it’s still on the menu, try the monkfish. Superb. Their cocktails are great too. Wish we had a better view of the water when we went.

  2. Avatar Catherine Hester says:

    Our friends/neighbors and we frequent Fish On (Matt’s second? restaurant here) in the Villages of Five Points. When we first dined there in 2005, the food was excellent. Since then, it has sadly declined. They took customer favorites off the happy hour menu- stuff like flatbread pizza with Granny Smith apples, goat cheese and walnuts, baked potatoes, and most recently, the chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream! It’s very disappointing to those of us who have been loyal customers of Fish On for almost 10 years to witness this neglect. Please review Fish On and let us know what you think.

  3. Avatar Priscilla Nemeth says:

    I, too, have loved RedFin and now BlueCoast and all of Matt Haley’s restaurants. I believe the quality of his food and his restaurants has brought all dining in the Rehoboth/Bethany/Lewes area up a few notches. Thanks, Matt. And thanks Rehoboth Foodie for all your great reviews.

  4. Avatar Bob says:

    As seasonal residents of BB, we too love the Bluecoast along with Matt’s other eateries. Unfortunatley, we never go in season due to the waiting. Why doesn’t he take a reservation for at least 1/2 of his tables to reward his loyal following? I know, with diners waiting in line he doesn’t need our business. Too bad because his food is great!

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