It all started in 1974 just outside of Washington, D.C., when the original Jerry (yes, there was an original Jerry) sold oysters out of the back of a '68 Chevy. The oyster shucker-turned entrepreneur-turned seafood maven ended up opening two popular Maryland restaurants, each enjoying a reputation for soups and expertly fried seafood. The Jerry's Seafood in Lewes is not directly associated with the Maryland installations, but shares the same name and a very similar menu. You just know there's a back-story there, but nobody's talking.
Enough chit-chat. The Lobster/Goat Cheese Quesadilla comes out of the kitchen hot and melty. A surprisingly generous portion of lobster (especially claw meat) strikes an interesting counterpoint to the tang of the goat cheese, especially when dipped into the tomatillo salsa and pico de gallo (they called it salsa fresca–cool and fresh). The Cream of Crab soup (of which they are quite proud) was brought to the table satisfyingly hot. It's creamy, loaded with crabmeat, and redolent of Old Bay and sherry. Though it is fairly thick, it's not at all floury.
Regulars here at RF know that I've criticized the bacon-wrapped scallops at a few other places, but the ones at Jerry's Seafood were great. The bacon wrapping was crispy and firm (anything less well-done is like eating an earlobe), and the three big scallops were cooked to the perfect consistency. They are accompanied by what appeared to be a chipotle mayo, but it was marred by being way too thick for dipping (it had just been removed from the refrigerator). We were on our own for a last-minute save, so we added some Tabasco, stirred it up, and enjoyed a more manageable dip, complete with that Avery Island kick. One of my “go-to” Foodettes ordered the Crab Stack. It is served timbale-style (formed vertically in a cylindrical shape), with layers of avocado, mango, cucumber, tomato and bean sprouts crowned by a generous portion of cool white crabmeat. It doesn't look like a big portion when it's in stack mode, but when you deconstruct it, it could actually serve as a main course.
On my first visit I ordered their signature dish, the Crab Bomb [pictured right]. As promised, it was a little bigger than a baseball, loaded with crabmeat, lightly seasoned with Old Bay, and had a minimum of filler. I know they are quite proud of this dish — even trademarking the name — but I do have one gripe: It had waayy too much butter. (Never typed those words in that order before….) The mashed potato and veggie sides were swimming in it. On another visit I gave it another chance and tried the Firecracker Bomb (the same dish, but more aggressively spiced with dry mustard and black pepper). It had just the right amount of butter. Go figure. You can also order the smaller Baby Bomb and the Baby Firecracker. We'll chalk that up to a one-time deal, but taking the price into consideration, each one should be perfect.
In true Jerry's tradition, the fried oysters were, in a word (or two), absolutely perfect. Properly fried food is NOT greasy or oily! Frying is an art, and not everybody around here has mastered it. The breading was puffy and crackly, and the plump fresh oysters were hot and tasted of…well, oyster, not oil. I'm here to tell you that these are some of the best fried oysters I've had here at the beach. The Fish & Chips received the same response (on all three visits). The snow-white Haddock was flaky and moist, while the coating was darkly crunchy, tasting ever-so-slightly of beer, salt and pepper. Because the coating is not oily, the fish maintained its crunch until the very last bite. Many of the dishes come with seasoned fries and an interesting home-made slaw consisting of a julienne of zucchini and carrots with red cabbage and roughly chopped greens in a very mild dressing. It has a satisfying mouth-feel, though I wish they'd give it more of a personality spice-wise–a dash of celery salt or seasoned pepper, perhaps. On earlier visits, accompanying diners had a couple of pasta dishes, but they were obviously specials and appear nowhere on the present menu, so I'll refrain from going on about them.
The Macadamia Encrusted Mahi-Mahi is baked and served with vanilla rum sauce, rice and a veggie. The generous portion of fish is tender and moist, and the nutty coating plays well with the rice. The same can be said for the Salmon, where fennel and a smoky sauce enhance both the rice and the fish with a slightly sweet licorice edge.
Jerry's has an interesting lunch menu. Like many local eateries, the menu changes somewhat, so call if you're a'hankerin' for a particular dish. Jerry's is located right next door to The Buttery at 108 Second Street, on the left as you turn onto Second from Savannah. There is live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.
By the way, the Blue Sea Cafe (part of Jerry's and right next door) is open for breakfast and lunch. Check out Blue Sea menu here.