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Northeast Seafood Kitchen

/ Updated on April 28, 2019

There is something to be said for a strong corporate philosophy and a solid management team that genuinely cares about the organization. The late Matt Haley's SoDel Concepts restaurants have both, not to mention a worldwide charitable presence under the auspices of the Global Delaware Fund, for which he was honored by three prestigious organizations: the James Beard Foundation, the National Restaurant Association and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. This is the first time in history any chef has won all three humanitarian awards in the same year! Congratulations to the entire team.

Northeast Seafood Kitchen is an unassuming little eatery tucked away in an Ocean View, De. strip-center about 300 ft. west of Bethany Beach. It thrives quietly in the shadows of Haley's flagship Bluecoast out on the highway in Bethany Beach and the huge waterfront complex of Papa Grande's and Catch 54 in Fenwick Island. But Northeast Seafood Kitchen is a hidden gem! And in a very polite and unassuming way, it offers some of the best of Catch 54, Bluecoast and Matt's Fish Camp.

In the last few months I've been there 7 times — three times incognito (fortunately the two who would have recognized me were either out or otherwise engaged) and the other two times I just let my writer flag fly and my camera flash flash. Interestingly, the service and the food were identical whether they knew who I was or not. This is testament to one of two things: (1) that strong management team I mentioned before, or (2) they couldn't care less about who I was. Doesn't matter. The important thing is that I get to tell you about it. So let's get this show on the road.

Do not, under any conditions, miss the New England Seafood Bacon Chowder. We had it when I was hiding behind my sunglasses and Yankee cap, so a photo was out of the question. But I'm going back and will post one soon. Executive chef Alex Martinez ladles up a generous, silky smooth portion, creamy and chock-full of bite-size chunks of seafood; seafood that's fortunate to share the bowl with thick-cut pieces of bacon. Everything goes with bacon. (Even ice cream! Read my Po'Boys review.)

On the lighter side is the Blue Crab Claws served cold with mustard cream sauce, a sprinkling of Old Bay and, of course, lemon. These are not always on the menu, but if they are they are worth getting. The claw meat is exposed and is ready for the dippin' and bitin'. The first time I had these locally was when Matt's Fish Camp (slightly north just before the Indian River Inlet Bridge) first opened, and they are just as good at Northeast Seafood Kitchen.

After you order the Sea Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips (think thin, flat & crunchy Thrashers with malt vinegar), it will be time to enjoy an exclusive dish served (as far as I know) only at Northeast Seafood Kitchen and Matt's Fish Camp: The crunchy and tastin'-ever-so-much-like-the-ocean Fried Ipswich Clams. If you've never had these delicacies with their crispy little “foot” and saline bellies, then you owe it to yourself. Haley has them flown in regularly from Massachusetts. Depending on his mood, they will be available as an appetizer, a main course, or even gussied-up New England style in a grilled & buttered soft roll. App, entree, roll, fork, shovel, IV, catheter, whatever; it doesn't matter how you get them to your mouth — just get 'em there.

On one of our earlier visits, we enjoyed the House Smoked Seafood Plate served on a rustic plank with a dollop of whole grain mustard, accompanied by brightly pickled veggie slaw and crackers. It was all quite good, especially the thin and flaky portions of fish and the melt-in-your-mouth Nova. Another suspected special was the House Sausage Medley that included chorizo, curry chicken, sweet Italian, and even a lobster seafood variety. It's presented with big slices of briney house-made half-sours and chunky whole-grain mustard. The sausage is made in-house and is a nice change from the seafood-centric bent of the place. Our party of 4 shared it with gusto. He enjoyed it immensely.

It's probably obvious by now that the menu changes regularly at Northeast Seafood Kitchen. You'll see several specials here that might or might not be available when you go. One that you should hope is available is the Shad Roe. It's served on crostini (they call it “house toast”) that are drizzled with a caper/garlic brown butter. Pieces of the pan-roasted roe sacs are distributed evenly over the bread. It's presented simply with a lemon wedge.

A year-round delight that I hope you find on the menu is the Baked Sweet Jesus Oysters with baby kale, chunky smoked ham and Vermont cheddar. Interestingly, Sweet Jesus Oysters are grown in cages in St. Mary's County, Md. (home of the National Oyster Shucking Championship!) where they are tumbled regularly to chip the growing edge of the shell, causing it to develop a deep cup with tasty meat. Northeast Seafood Kitchen serves three large specimens, savory with ham and glistening with creamy cheddar. They are absolutely delicious.

One more thing — if the Roasted Local Squash salad is on the menu (probably only in the off-season when the squash they are a'runnin'), get it. Tender slices of the happy gourd are covered with bracing arugula blended with toasted squash seeds, salt and … wait for it … maple butter. It's a fresh, crispy and satisfying dish.

I though we'd never get to the main courses. But here we are.

On our first visit one of our companions ordered the Monkfish platter. Apparently this pan-seared beauty hails from Rhode Island (as of this writing, at least). The light and flaky chunk of maritime whiteness is surrounded by a lake of cauliflower puree with seasonal root veggies, a bit of chili and lemon butter. The fish was nicely seared to a moderate golden brown, but still properly moist on the inside. Chef Alex does know his swimmin' things. On another occasion we had the Grilled Baby Lobster Tails. They were a little difficult to extricate from the shells, but once they were pried out they paired perfectly with the sauteed cabbage, bacon, vinegar and seasonal squash that shared the plate. Of course there was butter for dipping.

I cannot reveal my sources, but I know for a fact that Matt Haley was a fan of good fried chicken. He tries to eat lightly, but sometimes the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We'll leave it at that. Matt's Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Northeast Seafood Kitchen consists of a butterflied breast that is tastefully breaded and topped with a creamy ham gravy, buttered corn and green beans. It all rests perkily on a bed of mashers. If you find yourself up the road at Matt's Fish Camp, fear not — a very similar preparation awaits you there. In spite of the fact that it's a breast, the chicken meat is perfectly moist and the seasoned dredge pairs beautifully with the gravy. This is an indulgence that you should try.

Scallops all over the world are rejoicing at the thought of Chef Alex' version of Pan Roasted Dayboats. The lucky little bivalves get to cavort with chorizo, baby spinach and earthy mushrooms. The masher platform is surrounded by lemon butter sauce. The proper preparation of scallops is an art: Too long on the fire and they morph into a bundle of rubber bands. Too little time and they are slippery and just plain nasty. Ron and his crew have this down: The firm, golden crust on the outside gives way to a slightly opaque but still substantial interior. This dish is reminiscent of a similar preparation at Blue Coast, on the highway about a mile north in Bethany.

In fact, if I had to describe the menu at Northeast Seafood Kitchen, I'd say that it's a “best of…” version of the flagship Bluecoast, Fenwick's Catch 54 and the ultra-casual Matt's Fish Camp. And that is a big compliment.

Desserts rotate regularly on the menu, and I have included some photos for you.

Northeast Seafood Kitchen is at 29 Atlantic Avenue, on Rt. 26 immediately west of the canal bridge that separates Bethany Beach and Ocean View. It shares a little strip center with a UPS Store (owned and operated by John & Joan Barrett, two of the nicest folks around), a Papa John's Pizza and I can't remember what else. There is a delightful outdoor patio/arbor with a flickering fireplace, and they recently added an entirely new addition to the restaurant with a big bar and even more seating.

The new addition sports a little market area where you can buy some of the house-made goodies such as the Conti di San Bonifacio olive oil, house-made pickles, jams, jellies, preserves, butters, and handmade sea salts bearing the Papa Grande's logo. Also do not miss Matt's Black & White Soda. Think ginger beer, but with black pepper, bay leaf and a molecule of white balsamic. Thirsty for something a little more potent? Order a glass of Matt's own Conti di San Bonifacio Prosecco imported from Italy (duh). Regional manager Mike Dickinson pours this sparkling elixir for my EatingRehoboth.com restaurant tour groups when we visit Lupo di Mare. It leaves everybody smiling.

Check out a sample menu here (remember — it changes regularly and their website often lags behind!). They do not take reservations, but call first if you have a large party 302-537-1785.

In the off season they join all the other restaurants in the chain by offering 25% off night (a different night for each place), half-price wine night (again, it varies depending on the restaurant) and of course Haley's traditional 3-course Sunday prix-fixe.

Northeast Seafood Kitchen is open 7 days at 5 p.m. (D, Bar) Price range: Moderate +.

RehobothFoodie.com notes the sad passing of chef, award-winning restaurateur and SoDelConcepts founder Matt Haley, who passed away on August 19th, 2014 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash while on a humanitarian trip in the mountains of India. Matt will be sorely missed by many, many people.

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)

29-F Atlantic Ave.
in Ocean View
(302) 537-1785

Open 4 - 9
Open 4 - 9
Open 4 - 9
Open 4 - 9
Open 4 - 9
Open 4 - 9:30
Open 4 - 9:30
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 Raychel says:

    They did and they do. “NorthEast Seafood Kitchen might be the greatest SoDel success story,” said Scott Kammerer, the current president and CEO of SoDel Concepts. “Today, it’s an incredibly busy year-round restaurant, and it has an incredibly loyal clientele, who support the restaurant and the staff.”

  2. Avatar Han Aydinel says:

    The hidden gem of the Sodel restaurant group,and possibly the best overall.While the food is similar to their other seafood restaurants,the casual neighborhood atmosphere, fantastic service {sadly,Erin has moved on to Bluecoast Reho} and overall vibe is more local vs tourist feeling.Off season specials are fantastic,and the tucked away location generally results in less crowded conditions and quick seating. The fried baby lobster tails are to die for! One of the very best choices in the Bethany/Oceanview area.

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