Earlier this year it was brought to my attention that there has never been a review of Jake's Seafood House on RehobothFoodie.com. There are about 300 other restaurant articles here, so what was the problem!? I won't bore you with details, but I will tell you the truth: A while ago I encountered a rude employee on the phone and since then the place has been on my back burner. But wait: That was 10 years ago, and here it is early spring 2017. Gadzooks! Tempus certainly does fugit. Rehoboth Foodie fans suggested that perhaps I needed to get over myself and set the record straight. After all, this restaurant duo has been in Rehoboth Beach for a long time, and people often interpret the absence of a restaurant on RehobothFoodie.com as a personal indictment of the owner or chef. That might – or might not – be true, but that's certainly NOT the case with Jake's Seafood House and the friendly, generous Klemkowski family.
However, as of the end of November 2017, the owners chose to shutter their original downtown Rehoboth location. Rents are increasing by the minute in downtown Rehoboth, and this longtime family of restaurateurs chose to lighten the load. In spite of the ever-present Rehoboth rumors, the Jakes on Coastal Highway will remain open – at least for now – in spite of the short-lived possibility of the building being replaced by a hotel.
I said I wouldn't bore you, but I probably did. (Heck, I bored myself….) Moving on:
The original Jake’s in Baltimore was founded in 1929 by Jake and Mary Schneider. The restaurant was run by their family for 50 years. Enter Rosemary, Jake and Mary's daughter. In 1988, she and her son Bill and his wife Lois decided to bring that Baltimore seafood concept to downtown Rehoboth Beach. Specifically, to the corner of Baltimore Avenue and N. First St. [Now closed, see above….]
In 2003, they opened the second Jake's location on Coastal Highway where Mulligan's used to be. Bill and Lois Klemkowski's son, Will, started there at 15 as a busboy and worked his way up to GM of the downtown location. Jake's is nothing if not a family affair: Daniel, their youngest, was GM of the highway location, and their daughter Christina worked at Jake's downtown. If you do the math you'll see that this family has been dishing up seafood in Rehoboth for almost 30 years.
The menu starts off with their fresh fish board. On our last visit there were seven choices. We ordered the fried flounder and the fish & chips. I prefer fish like flounder and cod to have a firmer, more seasoned crust, but this lighter version did show off the quality of the fish; almost snow white and nicely flaky. The appetizer menu sports 13 choices, and a couple of the stars are the stuffed mushrooms and the island coconut shrimp. The Imperial mix on the mushrooms was quite delicious, and the coconut shrimp were crispy and not overcooked. I would get those again in a second. I also want to try the Ahi Poké. See the shrimp and the ‘shrooms in the gallery.
Fried seafood platter1/4 coconut shrimp2/4 Nice, big scallops3/4 Those amazing Imperial-stuffed mushrooms4/4
If somebody calls themselves a “Seafood House,” then the seafood platter must shine. I judge certain types of restaurants by the popular “go-to” dishes. If they can't pull off the basic stuff, then I'm suspect of anything else they do. The star of the fried seafood platter was the crab cake. Yes, Jake's crows about their crab cakes (but to be fair, every restaurant crows about its crab cakes) but these lived up to the crowing: They were delicious. The platter consisted of fried shrimp (just as good as the coconut shrimp), flounder and fried scallops.
One of our companions ordered the broiled scallops, served simply with wine, butter and a bit of seasoning. The happy bivalves were properly cooked and the portion was generous; well worth the $20 tariff. One of the things I really like about Jake's menu is (1) they offer sandwiches and burgers on the dinner menu, and (2) they have a selection of entrees other than seafood, including a filet, prime rib and a stuffed filet. If my spies are correct, at least some of this beef is sourced just down the road from our local Reid Angus Farm. So you might actually drive farther to get to Jake's than your steaks had to travel to end up on your plate. Pretty cool, huh?
Two little surprises on the menu are the onion straws (get 'em while they're hot!) and the lobster mac & cheese, enrobed in cheddar jack baked to a crispy crust. They are meant to be shared, but we won't talk about you if you order one for yourself. And I'd appreciate the same courtesy…..
We have a few more visits before this article morphs from a sneak peek into a review, and we will add photos along the way. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts below.
The Coastal Highway Jake's is currently located at 19178 Coastal Highway on the west side as you approach Old Landing Road (302-644-7711). The downtown installation is at 29 Baltimore Avenue at the corner of N. 1st St. (302-227-6237). The menus are pretty similar, but I gave you links to both anyway. The highway store has entertainment. Click here to see their calendar. Hours vary between the two locations, so always call, especially id you are downtown in the off season. At the moment (early spring 2017) the downtown location is closed, and the Highway is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; open other nights 11:30 – 9 and Sunday 11-9.