The old Finbar's is long gone (do you remember Potpourri before that?), and Dogfish Head's tribute to Eastern Seaboard seafood is going strong. Those of you who frequented Finbar's will not recognize the place, except for vestiges of the bar on the right-hand wall. But even that has been brightened and streamlined. The interior, designed by a collaboration between Sam Calagione and James Beard restaurant design finalists Otto Architects LLC is nautical, bright with fish house-style subway tiles, lots of light woods and highlights. Speaking of lights, wait 'til you see the beautiful lighting. [Hear James Beard-nominated designer Josh Otto talk about the Chesapeake & Maine experience on Sip & Bite show!]
The concept pays homage to DFH boss Sam Calagione's childhood vacation spots in Maine, and also DFH's Eastern Shore locale near the Chesapeake. Calagione has wisely moved his relatively new GM/Chef duo Ryan Schwamberger and Kevin Downing over to do the opening duties at Chesapeake & Maine in order to hit the ground running. Kevin has since returned to his beloved Florida, triggering Zack Dick's move to the chef position at the brewpub and the installation of young Kyle Rhodes at the boss level of the Chesapeake & Maine Kitchen. Looks like this relatively new eatery will continue to run at top efficiency. Read more about Ryan & Kevin by clicking here.
New England Lobster Roll1/24 Chesapeake & Maine2/24 Chesapeake & Maine3/24 Chesapeake & Maine4/24 Chesapeake & Maine5/24 Chesapeake & Maine6/24 Chesapeake & Maine7/24 Chesapeake & Maine8/24 Chesapeake & Maine9/24 Chesapeake & Maine10/24 Chesapeake & Maine11/24 roasted oysters with asiago and a crunchy tuille12/24 Scallop crudo, avocado/jalapeno puree w/coconut/lime zest gel. lemon bubbles and charcoal.13/24 Smith Island Cake and jealous barkeeps14/24 Crab cake scotch egg – comes with the Seacuterie app15/24 Seacuterie: lobster sausage, crab cake scotch egg and smoked bluefish spread16/24 Black Bass entree17/24 Crab Cakes with hushpuppies18/24 Sweet & Spicy hushpuppies19/24 lobster poutine20/24 seared scallop with English peas, fiddlehead fern and charred garlic21/24 Seacuterie platter22/24 The Seafood Pho entree23/24 Smith Island Oriole Cake24/24
Another pleasant surprise was noted barkeep Rob Bagley, occasionally at Michy's Relaxed Dining. Rob will be a regular fixture behind the bar, and his creativity was quite evident during the party. By the way, Chesapeake & Maine has several cocktails ON TAP – including a delicious Moscow Mule. If you like ginger, don't miss that one. Congrats, Rob, on landing the dream job of spring 2016.
I will preface this by reminding you that many Rehoboth restaurants delight in changing their menu. In many cases it makes sense, because it allows the kitchen to take advantage of seasonal ingredients. But it can be frustrating for a food writer. So though many of these things might not be on the menu when you go, you can use this as a guideline. I was honored to attend one of the media receptions there, and some of the menu items to which we were treated include the Maine lobster roll, warm Maryland crab dip (Gadzooks! It was sublime!), dayboat scallops seared before our very eyes, and a delicious seafood pho (pronounced “Fuh”) that combined the bright tastes of that Vietnamese soup with lobster, clams, mussels and shaved beef. Scroll through the photo gallery to see more.
On subsequent visits, we had the entree version of the seafood pho (not the traditional pho, of course, but quite delicious in its own right). It's a very generous portion. The crab cakes are served with the sweet/spicy hushpuppies and the succotash, though you can indeed choose your sides from the selection of six. On our most recent visit, the Crispy pan-seared rockfish was replaced with black bass prepared in the same way. The preparation was quite nice, and the presentation was even better, with a chorus of littlenecks and pancetta decorating the plate.
When Chesapeake & Maine first opened, one of the stars of the show was he “Seacuterie” plate. It sported lobster sausage (quite good with a mild and delicate taste), a not-fishy-at-all smoked bluefish pate and – the star of the show [drumroll, please] – a crab cake scotch egg (see the pic in the gallery). The traditional scotch egg is a soft-boiled egg encased in sausage then quickly fried; enough to cook the sausage, bot not so long as to harden the yolk. The only place around here that I have seen these is The Pint in Millsboro. Well, Chesapeake & Maine's version is true to form, but replace the sausage with crab cake. They roll it in a tasty panko coating, and fry it to a crispy finish. And the surprise inside? A soft, runny yolk that blends perfectly with the crab cake. Another don't miss at Chesapeake & Maine.
Well, as of late fall 2016, the Seacuterie platter is a thing of the past, but one of my fondest wishes came true: The crabcake Scotch egg is now an individual item on the appetizer menu. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE! It is a shining star at Chesapeake & Maine and skillfully lays the groundwork for dishes to come.
The lobster poutine should not be missed. This nod to our neighbors to the north is loaded with cheezy lobster and a tasty combination of herbs. Think lobster mac & cheese, but with fries. I watched about 10 of these nicely presented dishes come flyin' out of the kitchen last night in about an hour. They hit the comfort food nail on the head with this one.
Another sandwich that is fairly new on the menu is the fried oyster po'boy. Though not technically a po'boy (traditionally served on a fresh and crusty, crackly-on-the-outside-soft-&-yeasty-on-the-inside French baguette), this oyster sandwich is quite good nonetheless. I sprinkle on a bit of Tabasco to give it a little kick, but the crunchy crust on the oysters holds its own and makes for a great mouth feel.
Chesapeake & Maine is located next door to Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in the 4th block at 316 Rehoboth Avenue. At the moment, they are open 7 days starting at 4.
Not sure why you would, but feel free to call them at 302-226-3600.