Big Fish Grill is a good example of a big, well-run Rehoboth Beach dining establishment. This is not to disparage other great local spots, but the number of people they move through there on a busy summer evening, and the consistently positive reports from customers all suggest that the Sugrue brothers must be doing something right. Do note that most any attempt to dine at Big Fish Grill between about 5:30 and 8:30 in the high season will result in a wait. Especially on weekends. That comes with the territory at big Fish Grill.
There have been a few changes at Big Fish Grill – many good, a few not-so-good – so I figured I'd bring my original 2009 review into the realm of early fall 2016. By the way, if you ever get a chance to take Norman Sugrue's cooking classes (click here for info), it's worth it just to see the sprawling army base of a kitchen. It is simply amazing and is laid out to run smoothly with even the biggest crowds.
Like their downtown Rehoboth Beach sister restaurants, Summer House and Salt Air, plus the new for 2014 Crab House out on Coastal Highway across from Tanger Seaside, it's hard to get past the appetizers and the sandwiches. My regular Big Fish dining group (we love the huge, wooden fish house-style booths) goes for the grilled Charcoal Shrimp and the Caesar Salad (pretty straight-ahead, actually, but always with cool, crisp lettuce). The “Wedge,” with bacon, tomato and cheese has a bit of a kick. (A dash of cayenne in the blue cheese dressing gives it a personality!) The seasonal soups are simply delicious. Do not miss the Lobster Jalapeno Bisque. It's seasonal, mostly in the fall, and it's worth going just for that.
UPDATE! Foodie-in-Waiting Kas talked me into the house salad a while ago. The walnut dressing was amazing. I could order it in a wine glass if they'd let me. It now lives happily in The Foodie's Pick Hits section of this website.
I sometimes run out of adjectives to replace words like “really good.” Well, the sandwiches are, in fact, really good, though there is a bit of a negative aspect since the group started doing their own baking. (I'll get to that momentarily.) The Big Chicken is outfitted just like a hamburger, but with a char-grilled chicken breast. Replace the chicken with an Angus beef patty (again, char-grilled), and you have the Old Fashioned Chop House Burger. The third major sandwich is the Crispy Fried Grouper sandwich. These are the same fried “fingers” that are on the appetizer menu, and they live up to their name. The little fillets are crunchy with a great breading and beg to be crowned with crispy cole slaw and a dollop of Big Fish Hot Sauce (there's a bottle in my refrigerator right now). Depending on the season and availability, the grouper might be replaced by some other equally white and flaky fish. Do note my caveat below regarding the new rolls:
The sandwiches used to be served on a plump challah-style egg-bread roll that was so good that I used to drive to the Big Fish Market and buy them separately for my BBQ/burger cookouts – shiny golden brown on the top, and slightly eggy and yeasty on the inside. Sadly, they have begun baking their own bread, and as of this writing, the burger/sandwich rolls do not measure up to the original ones. That shouldn't stop you from getting the burger, fish sandwich or a lunchtime sandwich, but sometimes new isn't always better. I am still in mourning for that original roll.
Big Fish Grill1/9 The simple but fresh and delicious caesar2/9 Chophouse Burger. One of the best burgers in town!3/9 The house salad with that walnut vinaigrette4/9 Lobster Mac ‘n' Cheese entree5/9 Stuffed lobster tail6/9 Salmon with rice and brussels sprouts7/9 Turkey & bacon club for lunch!8/9 N.C.Shredded pork sliders happy hour special9/9
The specials menu takes up a whole page, and does change from time to time. The Caramelized Salmon is a favorite; coated with a slightly sweet, yet transparent sauce (I suspect a bit of maple syrup). It works perfectly with the firm fish, and is accompanied by shaved Parmesan and your choice of sides. My dining companion-of-choice orders it all the time. Check out the Big Fish Board next to the kitchen doors. There are always special goodies lurking there. Before I send you on your way, I've got to mention a few particularly delectable items: (1) Mom's Meatloaf, plopped on a bed of mashed potatoes and slathered with a savory “demi-glaze” sauce (we have chosen to find the misspelling charming), (2) the Big Shrimp platter with char-grilled shrimp on saffron rice and a veggy, and (3) the crab cakes. Last, and definitely not least is the Neva's Potatoes. Named for the Sugrue family matriarch, I've described them in (painful) detail in my review of Summer House. Just order them. You won't be sorry.
If you're looking for a quiet, intimate little bistro with candle-lit shadows dancing across the walls, then put off Big Fish for another day. It's big, noisy with an army of youthful, friendly and efficient waitrons scurrying about and doing what they do well.. Each and every one of them has passed a rigorous test to ensure they can write their names upside down on the paper tablecloths. And, yes, there are crayons on the table. But isn't that what goin' to the beach is all about? Sometimes you just have to get right in the middle of it all. At Big Fish Grill you can do that and get consistent food and service at the same time.
Note that Big Fish Grill is also open for lunch, a wonderful value-added for those of us who live across Coastal Highway that, in the summer, doubles as a parking lot. Foodie pick hits: The shrimp salad, the chicken salad, and ANYTHING with that walnut dressing. Again, get the sandwiches on the croissant, as they have still made no significant strides in bringing their new rolls up to the taste and texture of the old ones.
By the way, Big Fish Grill also sells a nice hardback recipe book that I have used for parties, etc. If you like their food, you will enjoy the cookbook. And the Neva's recipe is in there.
Big Fish Grill is on the west side of Highway 1, on the left just as you cross over the canal going north. If you're driving south, pass the Rt. 1-A Rehoboth Avenue cutoff and Big Fish Grill will be just ahead on the right. It pretty much takes up the whole block, so you can't miss it. Get ready to wait in the summertime! But on a warm evening with a salty breeze, you shouldn't be in a hurry anyway. You're not inside the beltway. Relax and take a deep breath.
Call to check hours in the off-season at (302) 227-FISH (3474). Click here for the dinner menu at Big Fish Grill. (L., D., Bar) Price Range: Moderate +.
Big Fish offers a 15% Veteran Discount. You can get a Veteran ID free from DMV.
OMGosh! I’m SO excited that the Big Fish Grill has come to Ocean View! So, those of us who don’t want to fight the Rehoboth Outlets parking lot in the summer. Some of the same great food in the old Magnolia’s building totally and beautifully renovated! I was excited to be the first to Yelp it, too! What salad I have dreams of is the Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower salad for only $6! Mmmmmm Thanks for a great blog & resource! Cheers!
@GwynethJones – The Daring Librarian (.com)
I am a long time Big Fish Fan! I ate at the Rehoboth location in early October and the Wilmington location in late October and both experiences were disappointing. I was there on a Wednesday with my son and had the lobster roll which had zero flavor – I couldn’t finish it. In Wilmington, I ordered the key lime peppered yellow fin tuna and was disappointed in it’s lack of citrus flavor – instead I was overcome by pepper. It seems as though they’ve grown to big and the quality of their meals has suffered. It will be a while before I go back and they were always my go to restaurant.
I’ve been going to BFG since they first opened. The quality has suffered since they first opened. On top of that the quantity also went down while prices have gone way up.
Wife and I stopped by yesterday about 6 p.m. (Wednesday August 19th). The big parking lot was full and there were people running frantically to get in line. Appears to be very popular with families and large groups. We were not in the mood for waiting so we decided to go somewhere else. It would be nice if your review noted that there could be long waits for a table at dinner time.
I hoped I had made that clear in the article, but I added a bit more wording to clarify it even more. TKS for the note.
The situation with waiting is crystal clear in the review. I might suggest the under appreciated locals favorite Arenas, right next door. The shrimp salad is fantastic. You will come away with half the bill. There is something for everybody on the menu too. Seriously! I love BFG but I will not wait anywhere for more than 20 minutes.
Beware of “LOBSTER NIGHT”!
The first thing wrong is that on the Foodie’s list of off season specials the lobster was 1.5 lbs for $19.95, their price was 1.25 lbs for $20.95. [that has been corrected – ed.] Not a big deal – but it went downhill from there. Service was very slow. We ordered the baked lobster oysters as an appetizer. What we got were some tiny oysters with gooey breadcrumbs on top. I didn’t even see any lobster. I ordered steamed lobster, mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The lobster was overcooked, and in the tail there was some black gelatinous material. I’ve eaten many lobsters and I’ve never seen anything like it. Not only was the lobster overcooked – but it was utterly tasteless – and the dipping butter was tasteless. The mashed potatoes were barely lukewarm, and the spinach had more “cream” than spinach. I think this experience has taught us not to partake of “off season” specials.
My favorite place to eat! Everything is wonderful and they have the best Scallops and french fries in the world, my opinion of course. The service is excellent and the drinks are great! No complaints at all!
I had a new experience the other day at the Big Fish Market, which as a year round resident I frequently shop at. The Manager on duty very clearly informed me that there was a new rule in place: one 1oz container of sauce is to be given with each take out order, regardless of order quantity. So if you are like me and use the Market to feed company your 2+ pounds of fried extra-large shrimp costing $40.00+ now comes with one container of sauce. I was told If you need more sauce, it is sold in the market. So to all of my fellow shoppers be prepared.
We have a dinner group that dines together weekly. We typically frequent Milford/Dover restaurants as that is where we live, but we decided to visit some Rehoboth restaurants off-season. My hubby & I have been to Big Fish several times a few years ago, but not at all in the last 3-4 years. We were underwhelmed. I have been touting their bruschetta as “amazing” for years, but this visit it was nothing special. Also, we each got the broiled seafood platter which we agreed was just okay. We will likely be back, at some point, but we’re certainly not in any hurry. Four of the six fellow diners echoed our opinion.
One of the best new york strips in town….oh and the seafood is good too. The Charcoal shrimp has a unique addicting flavor. I always get a few skewers of them first thing.
I’m always amazed at how fast the food comes out when I eat at the bar, literally in a couple of minutes most of the time.
We’ve dined here many times, but on several recent visits have experienced a notable decline in service. More than once, we’ve had a long waits between being seated and having somone appear to take drink orders, and then delivering drinks from the service bar to the table. On our latest visit, entrees arrived when we were no more than halfway through our salads. I can understand occasional lapses of this sort but these breakdowns in service are so prevalent that I’ll think twice before considering a return visit, the good food notwithstanding. By the way, all of these bad experiences occurred in the off-season when, one would think, service would be at its best and customers wouldn’t be pushed to dine and dash.
The food is outstanding. We’ve dined in many fine resturants from Maine to Key West and have not enjoyed our meal like we did here at Big Fish Grill. We started with the Blue Point Oysters which were very fresh and clean. I had the Big Fresh Cioppino and my wife had the Fresh Pan Seared Parmesan Mahi which was absolutely delicious! We certainly recommend this resturant.
Try it, you will love it, I hate coconut and I adored this cake.
Meatball, all fish portions at Big Fish Grill are 8oz. The burgers are 10oz.
Just to clarify….
Must to our surprize when we showed up for dinner the place was less than half full ordered drinks then our meal. 15 min. later as we are finishing up the raw bar platter we ordered the waitress (Gina) comes up and tell me they are out of the entree I ordered. I can understand running out of an entree although they aren’t busy, but waiting until the time it’s served to let me know is not excusible. So I order something else knwoing it’s going to be 15 minutes at best before we get our main courses, ends up being about 25 minutes, no apologies, they forget the claw crackers and the sauce on the side, where after asking the second time I get. Yet again, no one thinks any thing is wrong. i’m fine witht heyoung servers, I realize they don’t get paid enough, but teach them some basics, if my entree had been reserved when I had wanted it, there wouldn’t have been the start of a dowslide to the evening.
My bf and I eat at big fish whenever we can. I Always get the baby seafood cakes with a amazing creamy seafood sauce and a side of nevas potatos. The pumpkin crab bisque is to die for and I have even bought it in quarts to work (at another resturaunt) as a treat for my employees. Always a great place to go for fun and great food. looking for a quite romantic night this is not the place for you. none the less this is our favorite seafood place at the beach
I have to admit that I’ve always been puzzled over the popularity of this place. Sure the food is consistent, however $21 for 4oz grilled tuna over a huge pile of mashed potatoes or $12 for a cheeseburger with fries, to me doesn’t represent good value. Add to that the irritated expressions on the servers face should you like to linger a bit pondering the menu while sipping a cocktail or bringing the cheque before offering dessert….Noisy, over priced, and pushy. Like I said I’m puzzled.
I love Big Fish because they understand that not everyone eats seafood and sometimes the non-seafoodies among us may want to eat out with our seafood-loving friends. I always know I will have a great meal at Big Fish, even if I don’t order anything that swims.
Used to be my favorite place at the beach to eat. The last few times we have been seated at the small tables by the kitchen where your fellow patrons are seated REALLYREALLY close to you. You can’t get out of your seat without knocking over their drinks with your coat… you can hear your neighbors chewing they are sitting so close. I think I’m going back to eating at the bar. Otherwise great atmosphere, bright, beachy and inviting. Unattended obnoxious kids running amok are barely noticeable here since the place is a hive of activity and noise, that’s not to say it doesn’t happen, the place is huge so it totally doesn’t bother me like when feral children run loose in a smaller more intimate establishment. Garlic mashers are great and I’ve never had a less than fantastic fish special. Huge portions of good food. The wait never bothers me here…there is plenty of room inside and out and room around the bars as well. I usually grab a few beers while I wait!