When I agreed to take on the “Sip & Bite with the Rehoboth Foodie” show on Delaware 105.9, I began to receive emails from people within earshot of my voice (or more like transmitter-shot, I guess). “We can hear you in Dover (or Georgetown, or Millsboro, or wherever),” they said. “So can you please talk about places nearer to us than Rehoboth Beach?” Well, of course I can (I do indeed write about those places – simply click “Other Area Reviews” on RehobothFoodie.com).
I've been getting a continuous stream of positive feedback about Restaurant 55 near Dover, and I figured that was as good a place to start as any. Add that to the fact that their menu is full of big, juicy hamburgers, and my foray into the untamed wilds of the Northlands seemed like an obvious next step.
The restaurant is owned and operated by Dennis Forbes and his daughter Desirée DiAntonio. The name? Easy: Traumatized by turning 55 years old in 2011, Dennis decided to channel that trauma into a new restaurant. Dennis and Desirée say that they use the freshest ingredients, and the proof is in the tasting: Ground hamburger (delivered daily) by Witt Bros., fresh turkey from T.A. Farms, and seasonal veggies from none other than Fifer Orchards. Of course, the growing number of Delaware craft breweries is well represented on the 12 tap handles that rotate among Evolution, Fordham, 16 Mile and Dogfish Head just to name a few. Over 35 bottled domestic and international brews round out the beer-centric bent at the bar.
Though there are a number of entrées and nightly specials, Restaurant 55 is centered around the quintessential hamburger, dubbed by some (well, OK, by me…) as “the perfect food.” Each burger is unusual in its own right, and the highlights in that department include the NFB Burger (not-for-breakfast: sage sausage, bacon, cheese and topped with a fried egg), the Lunch Counter Legend (the patty melt to which other patty melts go to learn to be patty melts), the Cordon Bleu Burger (grilled ham & gruyere – need I say more?), the Turkey Cobb (with gorgonzola, avocado, lettuce and tomato vinaigrette), and, of course, the Dagwood (pretty much everything … on sourdough).
The star of the Snacks-N-Apps list is the House Fried Potato Chips. Homemade potato chips are a chore and require constant stirring to keep them from clumping back into whole potatoes. Somebody (or something) back in that kitchen is a'stirrin', and you can tell. Each chip is evenly done and properly crisp with no annoying clumps. For those who can't tackle a regular burger, there is a trio of cute little sliders with onions and American cheese, wings (3 flavors) and O-Rings (cooked to a proper crunch!).
And, like the NFB burger, things get unusual again. For your consideration: Anchovy Fries (yup, breaded & fried anchovies. Very mild and not-at-all fishy), Meatballs in Plum Sauce (no '50s stand-up cocktail party was complete without these! Relive those days at Restaurant 55.), Fried Artichoke Hearts (delicious) and … (wait for it) … Cheeseburger Soup (and you thought you only made that at home!).
The dainty among us have a choice of six salads, including a salad that thinks it's a cheeseburger and a Tuna Salad with an Asian accent.
Scroll through the gallery to take a look at the various burgers and appetizers. Then go visit Desirée at Restaurant 55. Prices are quite reasonable (burgers in the $9 – $11 range) at this VERY informal place. By the way, seafood lovers need only walk about 30 steps south to Dennis' domain, Cool Springs Fish Bar. The open kitchen is the kicker at this respected seafood joint. Seating at the bar that overlooks the kitchen is the holy grail.
There are always fun specials up on the chalkboards (see gallery) that include apps, soups, different kinds of sandwiches and the occasional entrée. Oh… And don't forget the cupcakes! There is always a nice selection, but if they have the coconut cupcake, order one without delay. It's simple and sublime. By the way, I usually don't comment on service unless it's really bad, but I did want to say that our server on our last visit was particularly delightful, making suggestions and getting into the swing of things with our rather high-spirited 8-top. She was a good sport and an all-around peach.
Restaurant 55 is at 2461 South State Street in the west Dover / Camden / Wyoming area. It's within viewing distance of Dover AFB.