Owner and Executive Chef Dana Banks’ Hawaiian and Pacific Rim comfort zone runs through so many of the dishes at Parkway. Now in her 15th 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’ve been to Parkway for a total of 8 visits (so far), 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 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.
The salad collection is headed up by “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 few negative notes involves the Rack of Lamb. Dining companions have ordered it several times, and they all reported that it was unexplainably bland. The menu touts lots of spices, dijon, and a dried cherry demi-glace, but these particular “spies, moles and operatives” are regulars at Parkway and stick by their verdicts. After I sedated them enough to steal a bite, I agreed that the meat was nicely cooked, but could have benefitted from a heavier application of the spices and mustard. Carnivores should not worry, however: Parkway redeems itself nicely with the Oven Roasted Airline Chicken Breast (a quarter white-meat chicken adorned with a BBQ sauce that hints of tropical fruit, plopped squarely onto Mac ‘n’ Cheese with firm, bright green beans). My regular dining companion is addicted to it. 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).
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.). The 2013 summer dinner menu is still on the website. It’s summer 2014 at the moment, but I’ve linked to it anyway just to give you an idea. They do have a cute Facebook page that is active and up to date. (D., Bar) Price range: Expensive -.