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Gate House of Lewes

/ Updated on February 2, 2018

As of the last week of January, 2018, the Gate House of Lewes closed its doors for an indefinite period of time. Though conflicting reports abound, I suspect that the closure might be permanent as the owners focus their attention on reviving The Buttery restaurant which they purchased last year. Much will depend on whether they sell the Gate House building. Time will tell and business is business. In the meantime, I have left my review below for your dancing and listening pleasure.

When the Steele family closed their popular Café Azafrán in Lewes, first town in the first state foodies & foodettes-in-the-know held their collective breath to see what would replace the iconic breakfast and Mediterranean-flavored tapas-centric bistro. Azafrán boss Rich Steele assured me that the new kids in town had great plans for Lewes. So we waited. And the wait was worth it. The Gate House of Lewes opened, and since mid-spring 2014 they have been wowing the town with their cozy, informal yet fine-dining class eatery.

Gretchen Gates and her sons Taylor and Wilson bring impressive credentials to the (lunch & dinner) table. Originally from Wilmington, Gretchen is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and owned an eatery in Scottsdale, Arizona before relocating to Washington, D.C. Taylor, the youngest, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and is very much influenced by his experience at Jean-Georges (in New York City’s Trump Hotel at 1 Central Park West). Wilson is also an alumnus of CIA. He cooked at the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and also in Ocean City, Md. Gretchen’s husband, Chip, was instrumental in selecting the cottage-like setting in downtown Lewes and also helped round up Wilson, Taylor and their families to join them in this venture. The always smiling Chip can be found behind the bar or out on the floor gladhanding those who venture through the newly relocated front door (you now enter through the patio area – it’s a great idea).

OK. So we know the back story. But does it add up to good eats? In short, yes – in both the food and the service departments. And, as of our most recent visit in mid-2015, they are still going strong. I suggest a pre-prandial cocktail at the bar. It’s a great way to start your Gate House experience. I have twice ordered the Garlic Lemon Kale Salad. It’s one of the most unusual preparations I have seen and the style in which it was chopped actually reminded me of tabbouli. Bits of kale, pumpkin seeds, shredded parm, homemade Panko-style breadcrumbs and a breathtaking lemon garlic dressing all add up to total deliciousness with a surprisingly distinctive mouth-feel. I will take this opportunity to warn you that Sussex County is a goldmine of farms, ranches and producers. Local restaurants change their menus on a whim to accommodate whatever is flying, swimming or growing out there. So just hope that one’s on the menu!

Another dish that’s almost too pretty to eat is the Beet Salad. The slices of red and golden beets are still firm to the tooth and match the garlic dressing perfectly. Chunks of bright pecorino decorate the plate along with shattered almonds nestled amongst the greens. Check out the gallery photos.

My first visit was incognito (at least I think it was) so I couldn’t make a spectacle of myself with the camera. I wrote about that visit in my Beach Paper column, but didn’t get any feedback on subsequent visits. So I believe that my experiences are an accurate representation of how it is for any of their guests. Anyway, I had the Bibb, Endive and Radicchio salad (I have since posted a nice photo) and it was cool and crispy, though a bit underdressed. I know that the self-appointed cognoscenti crow about too much dressing, but I would like to at least have a little with each bite. I also had the Short Ribs on that first visit. A reduction of red wine  That being said, I’d order it again in a minute. Extra dressing on the side, please….

Starters that we particularly love include the cheese plate (honey, the comb and a bit of jam were nice touches). Three tasty varieties were generously presented; one was a firm, sliced version that reminded me of Manchego. The other was lightly veined but mild and the other was a softer farmers’-style variety. The cheese plate makes for a great table-share and is served on a cute trapezoidal board. Do not miss the soups. The Fish Chowder is served New England style with potatoes, onions and of course bacon (it makes everything better). A generous portion of flaky cod tops it off. Our last visit was at lunch and my companion ordered the Tomato, Kale and Mushroom Soup. It is very bright tasting and redolent of basil. It’s so full of goodies that it borders on a stew. You can get the soups as a cup or a bowl.

The Almond Crusted Duck Breast is one of the stars of the entrée show. The kickers in that dish are the almonds – Jordon Almonds! The crackle of the thin shell of the hard-candy coated nuts, against the sharp, peppered kale and the softly sweet amaretto jus sets off a happy carnival in your mouth. This dish is a must-get – take a look at the clever presentation in the gallery. Another happy entrée is the Grilled Salmon. The firmly done on the outside but moist and pink on the inside fish sits atop a dollop of tomato compote that basks in an almost transparent tomato consommé. Bits of spiced kale decorate the plate. The dish is an exceptional example of the classic “three distinct textures, three distinct tastes” mantra. If you like salmon you’re gonna love this one.

The Gate House Burger is made from ground short ribs and is served simply on a nice soft bun. Cheddar and nicely done bacon top it off. The fries are good, and of course I asked them to hold the truffle oil. You narrowly missed my truffle oil tirade. You must be living right.

On our second visit we were accompanied by our favorite muncher of roots, barks and herbs, the vegetarian columnist on this very website. She never makes a big deal of her eating proclivities, but she always ends up getting something really good of which we are jealous. This time it was the Roasted Seasoned Vegetable Tart. It looked like a quiche (well it actually was quiche) and was cuddled up to a big mixed greens salad drizzled with a bracingly tart/sweet balsamic reduction. Carnivore that I am, I’m ordering this on my next visit. It was quite good.

The lunchtime menu offers the same salads and soups with the addition of sandwiches. On my first visit I couldn’t resist the BLT and its generous portion of apple cider bacon. The sandwich was toasted and a very good BLT indeed. On subsequent visits, we had the Chicken Salad sandwich and the Pastrami on Rye. The chicken salad is rather mild, and sports bits of grapes, almonds, celery and scallions in a Dijon/mayo mix. It’s served on a fresh baguette.

The Pastrami on Rye is served regulation-style with kraut, swiss and a house-made thousand island. The meat was nice and lean, and (most importantly) thinly cut. Pastrami is a fatty meat by definition, and thin slices make the flavorful fat much more mouth-friendly. All the sandwiches are portioned for a quick lunch. By the way, one of the highlights of the Sides section is the Fried Brussels Sprouts. I don’t particularly like the annoying little cabbages, but this preparation with aged vinegar was simply delicious. I’d get it again in a second. In fact, it wasn’t even mine and I ate about half of it.

See the lunch menu by clicking here.

See the dinner menu by clicking here.

The Gate House of Lewes is at 109 W. Market St. in the little courtyard shared with Half Full. There is very limited parking in that immediate area, and forget about the spaces directly in front. They are metered for, like, 5 minutes. But you can usually find a spot out on Market Street or in the municipal lot where Market and Savannah meet (by the drawbridge). Word on the street is that you will soon be able to use ParkMobile in Lewes. So you can leave your 55-gallon drum full of quarters at home.

The Gate House of Lewes is open for lunch and dinner. 11-3 and 5-10 every day but Monday. They’re new, so that could change! So always call. 302-313-5912. Check out their attractive website here.

Everything on the menu is available to go. (L., D., Bar) Price Range: Expensive -.

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)

109 W. Market St., Lewes

Closed for an indefinite period of time.
Closed for an indefinite period of time.
Closed for an indefinite period of time.
Closed for an indefinite period of time.
Closed for an indefinite period of time.
Closed for an indefinite period of time.
Closed for an indefinite period of time.
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. Jan says:

    Anxious to try The Gatehouse this past week– liked the cozy feel of the place for sure. However the service was marginal (maybe new?) The staff wasn’t sure if they could seat us 10 minutes early although doors were open and getting crowded (open hours were different on different sites causing confusion). our waitress was nice and tried very hard but spilled the soup all over the outside of the bowls — and the soup although tasty was luke warm. Ciabatta bread was stale making sandwich undesirable. Probably will try other spots in future instead as price not reflected in quality.

  2. Woody says:

    The staff from the front door to waitress were outstanding. We had the Brussels Sprouts for appetizer. They are very good a large enough serving for a party of 4. We both had the Coconut Shrimp and Fries with tasty Cole Slaw. 5 Shrimp that were the biggest and best I have ever been served at a restaurant anywhere. Definitely going back to try the rest of the menu.

  3. Frank says:

    Had previously been here for 1/2 price burger night but found the burger extremely salty (my wife likes salt and she agreed it was too salty). Tried again after receiving letter in mail offering 1/2 price meals to celebrate their anniversary and asked that no salt be added to my burger but it was once again extremely salty. Will not return for a third attempt.

  4. Bob says:

    Mike and I tried Gate House for lunch today. Fried Brussels sprouts and shrimp avocado were outstanding. We will definitely be back again soon

  5. Barbara says:

    Enjoyed the duck here more than any other preparation in the County! The kale salad is remarkably good and of amazing texture, the brussel sprouts were sweet and tasty, and the special corn-potato soup was thick, flavorful and full of rustic goodness!

  6. Barbara dorsey says:

    I have been her twice, once for happy hour and another time for full on dinner. Both times I have had the fried Brussels sprouts. One order is enough to share ” for the table” and they literally melt in your mouth. Do not miss! I had the scallops and also the salmon. They are not stingy with portions with the seafood. The bread they serve is from Old World breads in Nassau, and there is a little something in the butter, suspect a touch of honey. My husband ordered the strip steak he said it was delicious (didn’t offer a share.

    I’m gonna come right out and say this, hands down best by the glass menu in Lewes. And thankfully priced between 7 10 dollars a glass. Upon my first visit, the bartender, one of the sons was quite proud of his pick for the rail vodka. A friend and I blind tasted GateHouse rail vs Grey Goose. Almost indistinguishable from each other we both chose the house vodka as smoother.

    The place is lovely, service top notch. I can’t believe it took me this long to get there!

    By the way Thursday is burger night. Will have to check that out soon.

  7. James says:

    Hate the truffled fries. When you ask them for plain fries, the potatoes are fabulous.

    • The Rehoboth Foodie The Rehoboth Foodie says:

      I also hate truffle oil, and I have also ordered the fries there without the oil and they are indeed delicious.
      We need to get truffle oil on some sort of “controlled substances” list where cooks have to sign a certificate that they will use NO MORE than a tiny drop on anything, or they will face substantial fines and possible imprisonment. :o)

  8. Stephen says:

    Two of us had lunch here yesterday and everything was wonderful. Tried both soups (squash mushroom and tomato kale) and two salads (beet and kale) as well as a beautiful bottle of Portugese wine. Food, service and the space made this a great leisurely late lunch on a beautiful day in Lewes. Run do not walk to eat here before they get as busy as Agave.

  9. Will says:

    Tried last night, food and service excellent

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