It's been a while since I visited Cafe on 26 in Ocean View. We went several weeks ago, and I have to tell you I was thoroughly impressed! Thanks to the notoriety of our dinner companions, we were seated in the very quiet and very private ‘wine room' upstairs (see the pic in the gallery). The food and the service made me realize that Rt. 26 is a lot more than just pizzas, tacos and fish sandwiches. The entrance to the restaurant is through a nicely tended garden, preparing you for the calm atmosphere within. I will again tell you that many restaurants still change their menu with the seasons, and judging from the menu offerings, Cafe on 26 is no different. So the items mentioned here may or may not be available, depending on when you go.
First opened in May 2010, owner and Exec. Chef Maria Fraser works closely with Chef Jason Bostaph and Sous Chef Jimmy Cooper to create offerings that are as nice to look at as they are to taste. The restaurant is nestled in a Victorian beach house that was built in the '20s.
I started with one of the most beautifully constructed salads I've had in a long time. It contained seasonal greens with cool and crisp onion, grape tomatoes, cukes, slivers of carrot, chunky feta and little sweet surprises of candies walnuts. Get the sherry shallot dressing. It's simply delicious.Cafe on 26 is known for their Mushroom Tartlets. These ain't yo'mama's stuffed mushrooms! (See them by scrolling the gallery). Four plump ‘shrooms are stuffed with a blend of OTHER mushrooms (sauteed to perfection), drizzled with a cream cherry caramelized shallot demi and crowned with a dollop of chive crème fraiche. At the risk of gushing, they are simply delicious.
Mushrooms made yet another cameo appearance on the Grilled French Cut Pork Chop. Impossibly tender and nicely seared, it is offered with a choice of toppings. Though the bleu cheese and the caramelized onions were tempting, our tartlet adventure required that we get the sauteed ‘shrooms. One of our party knew exactly what she wanted, and it appeared in the form of an attractively constructed plate of flounder stuffed with creamy crab Imperial. An Imperial sauce topped it off.
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Several years ago I ordered the crab cake there at Cafe on 26, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very lightly sauteed (I love a light crust on the outside), and other than a tiny hint of Old Bay, I tasted no other filler. Mercifully, the crab cake is still on the menu, and I will guess that they have not changed it. If that's the case, you will not be disappointed.
They are open Wednesdays thru Sundays 5 – 9 and are RESERVATIONS ONLY (call (302) 539-2233). They have a reservation policy that I am seeing more and more: They request a 1.75 hour dining limit for tables of 2, and a 2 hour limit for tables of 3 or more. This is not that unusual, especially for popular restaurants that promise reservation times. Longtime denizens of Rehoboth Beach will remember that the late Nancy Wayson enforced that policy very politely at her long-gone but forever-remembered Chez la Mer restaurant at 2nd and Wilmington.
Check out The Café on 26 at 84 Atlantic Avenue, just a block or two west of where Central Avenue intersects Rt. 26 (Atlantic Ave.). See the dinner menu HERE.