Owner and Executive Chef Dana Banks' Hawaiian and Pacific Rim comfort zone runs through so many of the dishes at Parkway. Now in her 25th year in Bethany Beach (about 12 miles south of Rehoboth Beach), Parkway is definitely not a Hawaiian restaurant, but the South Pacific influence shows itself in the cool, citrusy sweetness of her relishes, sauces and marinades.
I have been remiss in not returning to Parkway for a couple of years. My original review was posted in 2010 (!), though there have been updates since then of course. My excuse: Parkway's one of those places that is consistently good, so I don't feel that I need to check up on anything. On the other hand, I do love her food. So we returned in spring 2020. I had been to Parkway for a total of 8 visits (now makes 9), and I try every time to find some major flaw with the place. After all, nobody's perfect, right? Parkway has, so far, come pretty close. Dana varies the menu regularly, so note that the things pictured here in the gallery and described on this page might – or might not- be on the menu. But whatever you get it will be well-prepared (often by Dana herself!) and tastefully presented.
Keep your fingers crossed that she has the Coconut Shrimp appetizer. I know — you can get it just about anywhere — but these crispy morsels are freshly made, with a politely hot combination of spices serving as a nice foil to the sweetness of the coconut. The happy little shellfish are cuddled up to a brightly colored mound of mango and pineapple cubes in a creamy lake of vanilla/coconut cream sauce. (I'd love to order that sauce as a beverage with a big straw–but even The Foodie has his limits.) The other star of the appetizer show is the Crab and Mango Cocktail. Served in a crispy wonton “bowl,” the combination of chives, mango, cilantro, peppers, curry and firm white crabmeat sets off a roller coaster of taste in your mouth.
On this last visit I started with “The Infamous Caesar.” This is not your boring pile of romaine slathered with commercial “Caesar” dressing out of a #10 can. This simple dish is crowned with asiago cheese, homemade herbed croutons and can be adorned with your choice of anchovies, tomatoes and/or pine nuts. Of course, I get all three. I've also had the “Parkway House” salad, chock full of goodies like peppered pistachios, yellow pepper strips, and lots more crunchy stuff. I just noticed it's not on the most recent web site menu, so be sure to ask for it…maybe they can accommodate. If they can't, get the Caesar. You won't be sorry.
One of the stars of the show is the Rack of Lamb. The menu touts lots of spices, dijon, and a dried cherry demi-glace, and this dish delivers on that promise. Another delicious plate is the chicken quarter. It hints of a BBQ sauce redolent of tropical fruit. Another star is the Soy-Maple-Mirin Glazed Salmon. The combination of salty soy sauce, maple syrup and the sweet Japanese rice wine (Mirin) deposits a delicate caramelization onto the fish. It is paired with a quinoa tabbouleh and colorful vegetables (quinoa is a cereal-like seed related to beets and spinach, filling in for the more traditional bulgur wheat component).
On two of my visits I had the Bone-in Veal Chop. It was darkly seared on the outside and baked to a moist pinkness on the inside. The lightly savory topping of mushrooms and tarragon/cognac cream encouraged the flavor of the beef to shine through nicely. The whole thing was nestled in buttery mashers and crispy, firm asparagus. At the risk of re-annoying the Chronic Complainers, this is a dish not to be missed. On subsequent visits, companions also ordered and enjoyed the crab cakes (drizzled with sweet-chili remoulade and accompanied by silky Yukon Gold mashers and a particularly surprising edamame/corn/bell pepper succotash).
On my most recent visit I decided to check out the downscale section of the menu and got the chicken cheesesteak. The sandwich arrived with nicely grilled chicken breast coated in a creamy cheese with darkly sauteed onions. The soft and yeasty ciabatta roll make it a sandwich to be enjoyed. I loved it.
They also offer “lite fare” for dinner including salads, soups and appetizers, multiple incarnations of that Caesar, and interestingly upscale sandwiches.
Parkway is at 114 Garfield Parkway (get it?) on the south side, east of the totem pole. They are open seven days June through September, but be sure to call during the off-season months (302) 537-7500. They do take reservations, and you can leave the info (including your phone number) on their voicemail. One unusual little twist: They discount your check 10% if you pay with cash (excluding specials, etc.).
See a sample menu at their website.
Follow Parkway and Dana on Facebook.
(D., Bar) Price range: Expensive -.