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Fins Ale House & Raw Bar

/ Updated on December 11, 2019

Fins and Claws restaurants have been fixtures on Rehoboth Avenue for a very long time. In spite of business partnership shakeups and changes in management over the years, Jeff Hamer et al have done a good job maintaining quality and consistency of service. And both eateries remain summertime magnets for those who appreciate chowing down on our maritime friends … and sipping lots of beer and infused spirits. Fins does seem to have the edge on Claws when it comes to consistently packed nights, but then Claws has those hardshell crabs and those cool wooden hammers. Something for everybody. Fins Ale House & Raw Bar opened on Coastal Highway year-end 2013 and is a popular hangout on Coastal Highway. The popular fish house has already expanded into the three adjacent spaces, adding additional dining space and the Big Oyster Brewery. Late summer 2015 saw the addition of an attractive outdoor dining area with a fascinating fountain. I will keep that a secret. Go and see it for yourself.

Fins AH&RB is also a popular spot for weekday lunches and Sunday brunch.

Bottom line, the menu mirrors that of both Fins and Claws restaurants. After all, why mess with success? We've been there for lunch or dinner many times since they opened, as I wanted to make sure the service and food remained as good as it was when they first unlocked the doors. I knew all would be well when I spied veteran downtown bartender Andrew Dickinson behind the bar. I might start calling him the “Bloody Mary Whisperer,” as he does have a way with that wonderful breakfast item. Good restauranting runs in his family.

The addition of the Big Oyster brewery on the premises has added a new dimension to the restaurant's tap lineup. At any point in time, they could be pouring their Hammerhead IPA, All-American Amber Lager, their very own Akoya Oyster IPA (6.4% ABV!), Hipster Summer Hefe (with a whisper of lemongrass), Broadkill Pils and Orange Crush Wheat. I am sure that since this writing (late summer 2015) that more brews have been added to the lineup. If you venture into the brewery area there is also a large merchandise area with the obligatory caps, hoodies, Ts, etc., etc., etc.

In the starter department, we began with the Oysters Asiago. A half-dozen of these little gems are loaded with a delightfully mild combination of spinach, fennel (!) and asiago cheese. I always get nervous when anyone combines seafood with cheese (sorry, Billy Bass), but this one is a must-get. Though in the past we have experienced a few consistency problems with the calamari downtown, we've had it several times out on the highway and it was nicely crunchy and not at all greasy. It is served with a very mild horseradish cream and a surprisingly bright and spicy cocktail sauce. The last time I went I asked for two ramekins of the stuff.

Another tasty nicely prepared and presented starter is the Fried Green Tomatoes. They are everything you want them to be (firm, not soggy, not greasy with a nice crackly coating), and are served alongside a corn and black bean salsa and sour cream redolent of smoked peppers. All in all a great combination of tastes, textures and temperatures.

If anything, the Shrimp & Crawfish Spring Rolls are better than they are at the downtown Fins. Of course, as the (relatively) new kids on the block, they're still minding their Ps & Qs out on the highway, but hopefully that suggests a trend. The first time we ordered them, they were out. We'll chalk that up to growing pains. But the last two times they were quite good and we have gotten then several times since. So all is forgiven re the 86ness on our first try.

I was there for lunch last week and ordered the Seafood Chowder. Though I always think of the New England cream base when I hear the word chowder, this light tomato-based dish was quite good. I have to say that everyone at the table noticed the somewhat skewed ratio between the abundant potatoes and the somewhat sparse seafood. There was one small, lonely shrimp who could have used a companion or two. Perhaps this was a lunch portion … but it was priced like the dinner menu. The devil is in the details, yes? I'd get it again in a minute, and hope that seafood might take up a little more room in the bowl. The house salad with gorgonzola is also quite good, and can be topped with any sort of protein that floats your boat.

On our first visit (their second night open) we encountered a large and ambitious specials menu. Well, it's not like these guys haven't done all this before, so we went for it. The Citrus Hollandaise Halibut featured a generous filet of the white, flaky fish, perfectly seared (similar to the Halibut Filet on the regular menu) and perched jauntily atop spicy grits. Crowned with fried green tomato with asparagus on the side made for another nice dish overall. The grits were perfectly creamy, obviously benefiting from the moisture of the fish. Unfortunately that could not be said about the grits that accompanied the Grouper with Black Bean Salsa on the New Year's Eve specials menu. The fish was perfectly moist, and the salsa played along very well. But the grits had apparently been dished up with an ice cream scoop, and that's OK, but … they held that shape on the dish. Unless I'm missing something, they were too dry and had begun to firm up (grits and cement have that in common). It didn't seem like the dish had sat under heat lamps in the window, but the grits acted like they had. Grits are like little sponges and will do that. Perhaps they should have been plated when they were still a little wet so they would still be creamy when served.  Just sayin'.

Another feature that night was called Haddock Vera Cruz. Another nicely portioned filet was pan-seared and served with grilled fingerlings and asparagus. The asparagus on both plates was perfectly done — bright green with a bit of crunch. The Fish & Chips was another surprise. Lightly crunchy (I hate soggy/bready fish) and properly fried, what appeared to be cod was moist and flaky. The fries were obviously fresh out of the fryer. Fins has always had good cole slaw (many places treat it as an afterthought). It added a cool textural component to the dish. The last time I went I asked for a roll (like a burger roll) and made myself a fish sandwich with cole slaw and Tabasco. Variety is the spice of life, you know. The server was into it, too. She was delightful.

I love the Peacemaker sandwich at Fins, and I finally got around to it one night when we were actually able to snag a seat at the bar (prime real estate there on The Highway). It was the same as always, with perfectly fried oysters overflowing the crispy-on-the-outside roll. Lots of bacon, lettuce and tomato shared the warm and yeasty inside of the roll, along with a rather mild “cajun tartar” sauce. Hey guys — it's a great sandwich. How about connecting it to its roots with a slather of remoulade (i.e., what you have but paprika-spicier with a bit of an acid edge of chopped pickles or picalilli)? There. I said it. (By the way, that in no way means I'm not getting the Peacemaker again.) Another regular that never disappoints is the Balsamic Glazed Salmon. It sits on root veggies and is topped with a bright yet savory chop of brussels sprouts and … wait for it … warm sauteed pancetta. Everything goes better with pancetta, and this dish is no exception. Roasted fingerlings rode shotgun, obviously happy with the sharp but slightly sweet balsamic glace they shared with the fish.

UPDATE! It's mid-summer 2014 and I just finished lunch at Fins Ale House. Love the new easy access from the highway! I ordered the Lobster Roll. The lobster salad was quite good, though a bit “wet” for me, with a generous amount of lobster, including a couple of whole knuckles. However, it was served on a plain ol' sub roll. The regulation-style New England Lobster Roll is served on a split-top, buttered & grilled roll (imagine a hot dog roll, cut about halfway through then grilled cut-side-down). In their defense, at least they don't call it a New England Lobster Roll. I will call it a lobster salad sub, but it's still good and satisfies that need for big chunks of lobster. I added a pretty good pic to the galleries that qualifies as droolworthy.

I mentioned New Year's Eve dinner before, and one of the stars of that show was the Seafood Combination Platter. It's reminiscent of the Seafood Bake on the regular menu, but with some variation including a firm and nicely seared piece of fish that I suspect might have been swordfish, tuna or something similar with a “steaky” consistency. No matter — it was quite good.

On our first night there, we were pleased that they had Smith Island Cake offerings on the menu — none the least of which the red velvet variety. Ever since the Ocean City Smith Island Cake store in Ocean Gateway closed (or moved — no clue), withdrawal from those tiny, multiple layers has been a challenge. On my last visit (accompanied by a professional chef on his rare night off) we ordered the Chocolate Cake Sundae. The plate was shiny clean when the server returned. Also check out the chocolate cake. Fins Ale House and Raw bar is at 19629 Coastal Highway, just north of Munchy Branch Road in the tiny strip center where Bonwich Café slowly faded out. Fins recently got their long-awaited access directly from the highway (plus additional after-hours parking in the furniture store lot), so we no longer need a treasure map to get into the lot. We'll keep you posted. Check out the menu here, and they do have a Facebook page. You can call them at 302-227-FINS (3467). They are open from 11 – 1 a.m. every day. The highway needed a place like this and I wish them the best. See their website here. (L., D., Bar) Price range: Moderate +.

By the way, I'd like to thank my talented friend and trusted Foodette Norma Parks for some of the pics in the gallery.

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)

19269 Coastal Hwy.

Sunday Brunch Buffet: 10-8:30
Open 11:30 - 8:30
Open 11:30 - 8:30
Open 11:30 - 8:30
Open 11:30 - 8:30
Open 11:30 - 9
Open 11:30 - 9
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 Leslie Beall says:

    I guess I’m missing something. I don’t know why Fins gets such great reviews. Maybe I’m not ordering the right items. Went today and had the oyster stew. At $9.00 for a bowl, you would think it would have more than 5 tiny oysters. I also had the grouper sandwich. The grouper was 5 oz. The roll was way to big and heavy for the fish. I have had grouper before and it’s a firm fish. This was more like flounder. Disappointing lunch.

  2. Avatar Nancy jones says:

    I love going to all the Fin restaurants. Great food and service. Love the new location in Berlin Maryland.

    P. S. I don’t think dogs belong in restaurants even if outside. Thanks for abiding by the law.

  3. Avatar Marion G says:

    We finally had a chance to go to Fins for dinner and can’t wait to go back. The raw oysters along with their fresh beer was a wonderful treat. There is NOTHING on the menu that we wouldn’t try. Nice atmosphere and good service. The Sunday brunch looks fantastic.

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    Food’s always great, but unfortunately the new patio on Rt 1 location does not allow dogs. Hopefully they’ll reconsider in the future.

    • The Rehoboth Foodie The Rehoboth Foodie says:

      Actually, Chris, it’s not a question of them reconsidering. It is against DE health department rules for dogs to be inside the fence (or other barrier) surrounding an eating area where food is served. When you see dogs inside the fence areas at some other restaurants, they are taking a chance of being cited under food sanitation laws.

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