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A Different Kitchen

/ Updated on August 14, 2017

This is not Mary Gaffney, Penny Reid and Roy Fowler’s first rodeo. They and entrepreneur Deirdre Smith quickly worked through opening/growing pains and are now officially up and running smoothly. Feedback continues to be good, and it looks like their concept is a potential winner.

A Different Kitchen at 16388 Paynter’s Mill Blvd. in Milton starts with an interesting tidbit: They had no idea that the former restaurant in that space was called “The Kitchen” when they came up with the new name. “A Different Kitchen” is actually words excerpted from a 1978 song by the English punk band Buzzcocks, which I am sure Justine Zegna and Mary Gaffney can recite word for word (Hint: Remember the band Speed Queen?). The restaurant features a variety of dishes with an Asian flair.

The menu is well laid out. It starts with a selection of seven First Bites. So far we (or our spies) have enjoyed the cute little shrimp shumai dumplings (LOVE the presentation in the steamer basket). The texture of the wrapper was nicely ‘to the tooth’ and the shrimp mixture was quite mild. I could have used a bit more kick in the filling, but I would still order them again. One of the stars of the First Bites show is the red curry mayo that accompanies the calamari. Talk about kick – and it works nicely with the well-fried squid. The chicken wings have a personality all their own thanks to a chili-miso combination. The miso mutes the heat of the chilis, but adds an almost umami-like personality to the crispy wings. All of these goodies are shown in the gallery.

There are five selections from the Soup/Salad section on A Different Kitchen’s menu. I suggest the miso soup – simple and straight-ahead with tofu and scallions. There’s also a veggie-friendly noodle salad with a definite Vietnamese bent. Carnivores can add a protein for a moderate tariff. Another sleeper in that section is the dressing on the Asian greens salad. The name (Szechuan peppercorn vinaigrette) says it all. I could drink that stuff out of a wine glass.

Four Bao Bun selections present themselves in the section of the same name. My pick hits are the braised short rib and the fried chicken. We included the fried tofu in our order, but it was pretty bland. I would also love it if they would cook the pork belly a bit more to render out some of the fat. Pork fat rules – but only if it is crispy. The accompaniments on each version of the buns are quite good and well-matched to the protein within. An adjacent table kindly allowed us to photograph the sesame seared tuna bowl. It contains a generous portion of soba noodles and is topped with shiny nori. It is quite a presentation and I’m glad my camera got to it before their forks did – it didn’t last long.

At the risk of unnecessary hyperbole, the Pho is exceptional. The broth is the most brightly spiced I has experienced (I eat a lot of Pho!) and the side dish was quite generous with peppers, bean sprouts and cilantro. The only thing I missed was the Thai basil. I hope they were just out of it on that particular night. But I’d order this Pho again and again. Note that it is brightly spiced, so if you are a spice wimp, you might want to go for one of the noodle dishes. Check out the gallery for photographic evidence.

A Different Kitchen serves lunch from noon to 3:30. The lunch menu is a little different and is dominated by the Vietnamese-style hoagie, aka the banh mi. The traditional banh mi is on a crispy French baguette and contains pickled carrots, daikon (like a carrot or parsnip, but with a Vietnamese accent), cilantro and jalapeno peppers. The protein can be one (or a combination of) several savories, including BBQ pork, grilled shrimp, a veggiehead-friendly portabella/edamame pate and salmon cakes. We had the BBQ pork; the caramel sauce was delicious and not overbearing. The key to the proper banh mi is the cool, crispy veggies and herbs married to the warm savories. The roll must be crisp on the outside and yielding on the inside. I am looking forward to going back and trying the shrimp version. Check out the gallery for a couple of good photos.

The six dinner selections (not counting nightly specials) at A Different Kitchen are again simple and easy to choose from. We enjoyed the grilled Scottish salmon with jasmine rice. The star of that plate is the green curry sauce. The mild coconut overtones are kicked up with a gentle heat. Spoon it over that salmon and go at it. The crab cake platter was also tasty with celery root, asparagus and an interesting mango coulis.

We’ve only had one dessert so far, highly recommended by Deirdre herself. It’s the roasted pineapple shortcake sprinkled liberally with macadamias. The plate was clean when we finally left. ‘Nuff said.

Some of you might recognize Penny from the front-of-house at Po’Boy’s Creole & Fresh Catch, and Mary & Roy from their time at Back Porch Cafe and Po’Boys. All three of these career food service people are talented at what they do. DD Smith hit the jackpot when she decided to invest in A Different Kitchen and in this crew. It’s an ambitious menu, but they are making it happen. Restaurateur extraordinaire and good friend Justine Zegna (Venus  on the Half Shell Dewey, Planet X Rehoboth, and now Blacksmith in Berlin, Md.) is close with all of them, and probably provides words of wisdom as they continue to work toward perfection. Mary Gaffney and Roy Fowler’s combinations of flavors, spices and ingredients are what have defined them, and I have to say that some of the dishes quietly whisper memories of the sadly long-gone Planet X. And no wonder; Planet X owner Justine Zegna (now wowing diners in Berlin, Md. at her Blacksmith restaurant) was known for delving into unusual combinations at Planet X (where the new wing of The Avenue Inn now stands). Mary and Roy are taking it to the next level, but without the mirrored Buddhas, red Japanese lanterns and the bejeweled door screens. I’ll always miss Justine’s influence on that little spot on Wilmington Avenue, but the simple design and clean look of A Different Kitchen in Paynter’s Mill brings it into the present.

Dinner starts at 5, and there are always several specials. Check out the gallery for one of the specials – the scallop platter. The best I could do is provide you with a photo of the seared scallops surrounding a mound of jasmine rice and sporting a brightly colored pineapple sail. By the way, if you like Moscow Mules, you will love their “Different Mule” cocktail. Get ready for a major ginger hit. My dinner companion got the “Hello Kitty” (he and Deirdre share a love for the felines). Triple sec is combined with a smooth sake, lemon juice and raspberry liqueur. “It was quite good,” he meowed.

Take a look at their menus here.

Listen to Deirdre, Mary, Penny (and the Rehoboth Foodie) giggle their way through the Sip & Bite Show a few weeks ago on Delaware 105.9FM.

Follow A Different Kitchen on Facebook.

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. Bruce Karp says:

    Oh, my, the short ribs at A Different Kitchen are the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve tended to order them when I see them on any menu. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful and a very healthy portion. Also, great fried calamari, another test for us when we try a new restaurant. We knew Penny from the old Cafe Sole in Rehoboth and also from Po’Boys, and she could not have been nicer when she saw us for the first time in the restaurant (we live in Paynter’s Mill). Best of luck to all!!!

  2. Suzanne O'Connell says:

    We were at a Different Kitchen tonight for dinner and it was wonderful. Between the 3 of us we had the dumplings, calimari, spring rolls, scallop dinner special. Delicious!! Going back on Friday!!

  3. Stacia Wilson says:

    We had a delicious meal, everything was superb! Penny is always so wonderful and accommodating. We will definitely return!

  4. Jeanette Griffin says:

    My husband and I have dined here 3 times already. Food is delicious! Try the calamari, spring rolls, braised short rib bao buns. Also, the pineapple shortcake dessert was very delicious. Well, just try everything!!! Owners are wonderful.

  5. GAIL B COMORAT says:

    Dined there July 6th and ordered the dumplings, spring rolls, and tuna. Everything was really, really fresh and full of flavor. Super-friendly staff. We will be back.

  6. Donna says:

    Menu is very limited. Kim chi was not very good, noodle bowl was flavorless and dumplings were saved by the dipping sauce. Maybe we should try it again before writing it off altogether. None of our friends who have been there liked their meals at all.

  7. Catherine says:

    The 4 of us went on Saturday for a late supper. Dierdre greeted us warmly at the door, seated us immediately and gave us a complimentary order of “shumai.” Our dinners were wonderfully homey and comforting. 3 of us ordered the “pho” and one ordered the tuna. Though the flavors were good, the dishes were way too salty. They could’ve used more cilantro, Thai basil, or something green and fresh. The shumai unfortunately had raw “skin.” Perhaps another 5 minutes in the steamer would’ve done the trick. And the little packets were enclosed, like a dumpling; whereas real Chinese shumai has Chinese mushrooms, bamboo shoots and is open at the top. Anyway, they are a wonderful Asian-inspired addition to our little town. Judging from the excellent service and management, I hope this little place makes it!

  8. Joe DeRanieri says:

    What a great place!!!! Wonderfully flavorful food, excellent spring rolls, everything was so fresh. Can’t forget how great Penny is always makes you feel special. I must try, we will be back.

  9. Connie Fazzio says:

    We were there on Friday 5/26 at 5pm for dinner as soon as they opened. They had resolved their problems with the POS and receipt system and were running smoothly. The food is yummy, prices are good, the staff are friendly and the atmosphere is pleasing.

    The place was packed with happy customers. Be sure to try a little of everything from the menu. We had an assortment of appetizers, entrees, and a wonderful rice pudding with mango dessert.

  10. George Robbins says:

    Went for lunch today (5/27/17). Called first. Recording said open at 11 AM. Was not open.

  11. Ron Bass says:

    Went for lunch today (5/27/17). Called first. Recording said open at 11 AM. Was not open.

  12. Kathy Davison says:

    We sincerely hope this is the winning combo for this space because we are looking to go North this summer to try restaurants as the crowds swell in downtown Rehoboth and Lewes!

    • The Rehoboth Foodie The Rehoboth Foodie says:

      I suspect that this might indeed be the one. Some of the other restaurants that opened in that center had internal issues and problems that doomed them to failure no matter how many people ate there. Time will tell!

  13. Deirdre Smith says:

    Thanks, Bob, for your awesome shout-out! Yes, we are excited to get going — hoping to open in about a month. Looking forward to having everyone — particularly Paynters Mill & Milton folks — joining us for lunch and dinner. Stay tuned.

  14. Bruce Karp says:

    We really need a viable restaurant in Paynter’s Mill, and hope this is the one that succeeds. Our location is somewhat difficult because we’re off Rt. 1 (not far from Rt. 1, but not visible from Rt. 1), so many potential customers pass our complex, not even knowing of the existence of the restaurants. Plus, our residents are not all full-timers and those who are will not be eating out every single night. Thus, our previous food ventures in the community have had their ups and (mostly) downs. We wish this new venture luck, and please consider making a trip up to Paynter’s Mill to support this new venture and Dagwood’s Deli.

  15. Amy Feinberg says:

    That’s such great news! I wish them a lot of success, we tried to support the old Kitchen, and PilotTown Fish also, but they closed abruptly. We really need a well run, professional, moderately priced restaurant with a varied menu in Paynters Mill!!! if it’s anywhere near as good as Po Boys they will be VERY SUCCESSFUL!! GREAT NEWS!!! thank you.

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