Say what you like, but the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk really needed something in the “no-man's land” at the easternmost end of Wilmington Avenue. Flanked only by the iconic Gus & Gus' Place and Thrasher's, it's been revitalized by the appearance of the Greene Turtle. Twenty-year veteran Playland Arcade owners Bill and Bob Frankis and Mike Venanzi gutted the second floor of the old 1940s building (formerly the Sunview Motel) and turned it into a 280-seat family restaurant–with a spectacular view rivaled only by the Solero restaurant at the top of the Henlopen Hotel/Condos. And if the crowds are any indication, it's paying off. Kudos, gentlemen, for spiffing up the south boardwalk a bit.
Before the Chronic Complainers click “send” with their standard emails, “How can you review a place with burgers, all that fried stuff…blah, blah, blah…I'm never going to your site again…where's your credibility…yada, yada, yada…,” this is beach food, people. And it is the opinion of this reviewer that the Greene Turtle rather successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do. So there. This is not fine dining. It's a burger, some wings and a beer. AND that amazing view. So there.
The appetizer menu will keep a bank of Fry-O-Lators (and a tableful of kids) bubblin' all day. There are the obligatory mozzarella sticks, wings (with 8,290 different sauces, give or take), fried ravioli, fries and onion rings that all come frozen in a big box and are actually OK if it's hot ‘n' crunchy you're craving. But try the Crab dip, too. Though I feel it has a bit too much Old Bay (a little goes a long way for me), it is hot, creamy and delicious gracing the end of a freshly baked soft pretzel stick of which the Turtle is so proud. The Pretzels con Queso gives you yet another hot and gooey excuse to get those yeasty, salty pretzels into your mouth. The OC Crab Soup was chunky with veggies and crab, though I felt it was a little heavy on what appeared to be chili powder. It's not (spicy) hot, but I wanted to taste more of the crab and tomato chunks. Order it and tell us what you think (below). For those who run screaming from a plate of cheese and bacon-topped fries, the Turtle has a big selection of salads. Of course, it's pretty much all about the sauces, dressings and then tossin' in chicken or shrimp, but the Apple Walnut Salad and the Ty Cobb (get it?) Salad are cool and fresh and a bit more adult.
Like French Toast? Like a ham/turkey/swiss sandwich? Then pop a couple extra Lipitors and order the Monte Cristo–complete with the raspberry sauce. The sandwich menu lists all the usual suspects: the Grilled Chicken (with Ranch, of course), the certainly not-South-Street (but still OK) “Philly” Cheesesteak, things ‘n' stuff with Jerk Seasoning, etc. Two more standouts are the Chicken Chesapeake Sandwich (crab dip tops a grilled chicken/cheese and bacon on a soft potato roll–messy, but fun), and the Grilled Chicken Wrap (chopped grilled chicken with greens, Craisins and a Mango Vinaigrette all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. If you like sweet, this one's for you).
But it's really all about the burgers. On one visit I had the Steakhouse Burger (identical to Applebee's—complete with the A-1 Sauce and the onion ring topper). The only difference between the two is that I suspect the Turtle's ground beef, though good quality, is frozen. To be fair, the majority of restaurants such as this one get their beef that way, but it does change the texture of the meat. The roll is fresh and toasted, however, and the toppings are many and varied. So if it's a big burger you're craving, The Greene Turtle's got it.
Except for the small selection of steaks (I had the little Flat Iron Steak and it was pretty good–and cooked exactly as ordered, the entree menu is essentially the sandwich menu reorganized without the bread. Two standouts are the Roasted Chicken platter (very basic, served with veggies and redskin mashers) and the Chesapeake Fish ‘n' Chips (I wish they would serve the Old Bay on the side).
All the Greene Turtle installations offer lots of TVs (some built into the booths), lots of neon, various and sundry beers, and basic bar food that is predictable and delivered quickly. The Rehoboth Beach facility has the value-added of that stupendous view. There's a narrow balcony overhanging the boardwalk and running the entire length of the restaurant. It only accommodates 2-tops, but nothing can be much more “beachy” than sitting out there with a bucket o' pretzel sticks and a frosty Blue Moon, keeping an eye on the Atlantic Ocean and quietly passing judgment on the scantily clad sea of humanity below.
The Greene Turtle is at 101 S. Boardwalk (drive east on Wilmington Ave. If you hear a big splash, you've gone too far). The entrance is on the Wilmington Ave. side, though there is apparently another entrance from within Playland. They are open year-round from 10am to 1am, but give 'em a call if it's snowing (302) 226-2000. Click here for a menu listing the burgers. (B. (in the future), L., D., Bar) Price range: Inexpensive +.