The owners of Big Fish Grill have worked wonders with Summer House, and have, in fact, opened Salt Air and Crab House, in addition to taking over Stingray and Sazio (formerly Zebra), both on Lake Avenue, since acquiring this Rehoboth landmark. Located in the third block from the ocean on the south side of Rehoboth Avenue (across from the fire house), things are hoppin' year-round.
In the off season, Monday nights are the nights for the “locals” to see and be seen. It's busy, noisy, and what seems like 325 TVs cast a festive glow on a lively bar crowd. And it's also 1/2 price burger night. I've done burger night many, many times. The meat is cooked to order and is plopped onto a nice fresh soft roll. I'm a bit of a nut about sandwich rolls. These brioche buns are toasted, and are good. There are lots of toppings, including bacon, cheese, pickles, etc., etc. I also get the hot cherry peppers. Sometimes they will partially pre-cook the burgers when they anticipate a huge crowd. Though I certainly appreciate the intention of getting the food out quickly, I hope that doesn't become a habit. You can tell the difference. Another sleeper that's only available on burger night is the salmon burger. It is simply sublime. Govern yourself accordingly.
The first thing I ever had at Summerhouse was the “Signature” homemade potato chips with blue cheese appetizer. On my first try, the chips did fare well. Subsequent visits, however, revealed crispier chips than before! And apparently they have remained so since then.
I have since had their sweet potato chips (always ask!), and apparently somebody is stirring, because they are great. There are lots of goodies that shine, none the least of which the scrumptious Neva's Potatoes. They are a rich, buttery mixture of home-fry cut potatoes, butter (of course), maybe a little cream cheese, milk, more cheese and spices. It's creamy on the inside, and slightly broiled and crispy on top. If you feel like trading off from the Neva's, they often have shoestring-cut Sweet Potato Fries, a nice accompaniment to just about anything on the menu.
As we proceed, I will remind you that menus change like the winds and the tide. So some of the items described here might be on the menu tonight, and off the menu next week. But Summer House manages to always have tasty items on the menu, so all is not lost.
Another (temporary) star on the sandwich menu is the Turkey Club Sandwich with bacon, cheese and lots of other stuff. You can't beat that ciabatta roll with its fresh, sourdough-like consistency. Accompanying diners have enjoyed the crab cakes, the 8 oz. filet mignon (NOTE: check out the various sauces and preparation methods for the steaks, including Kona Coffee crust with herb butter), and the Veal and Wild Mushroom Meatloaf served atop mashers with mushroom gravy. If you're looking for a filling dinner, this is it.
A shining star on the salad menu is the Baked Goat Cheese and Mesclun greens Salad. It is delicious. (Thanks, Summerhouse, for fixing the scary spelling on the menu. “Mescaline” is something entirely different — and illegal. Take my word for it.) A crispy filo-wrapped pillow of warm chevre lurks at the bottom of a cool pile of semi-bitter greens. A mild dressing makes it all work, and is not to be missed.
A big burger. On Mondays it's half-price!1/12 Summer House Saloon2/12 Prime rib night is a bargain3/12 Salmon BLT with the house-made chips4/12 Cherry cobbler5/12 Deconstructed chix & waffles, Another special6/12 Delicious cornbread. Sometimes it's there, sometimes not.7/12 Jambalaya — it was a special.8/12 Such a difference!9/12 Throwback Tuesday's $2.95 House Salad10/12 Throwback Tuesday's E-Bomb Burger11/12 Throwback Tuesday's Prime Rib12/12
UPDATE! Well, much to my sorrow, as of fall 2011 they removed the shrimp salad sandwich from the menu. See, I told you…. It's a fond memory, with that fresh grilled ciabatta bread and the lightly mayo'd salad loaded with shrimp and just a touch of crispy celery. If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud it's that they replaced it with a pretty tasty Grilled Salmon BLT. I suspect this is just a lunch item. It comes with one side, and it is quite good. Salmon and crispy bacon were made for each other, and this sandwich lets them both shine. There are other things on the menu (including BBQ ribs and the great “steak night” choices), but I only have so much space, and I don't want to give away all the surprises. Believe your Foodie when he tells you that you will not leave Summer House hungry.
ANOTHER UPDATE I was at Summer House last night, and one of my dining companions received her hamburger much less well-done than she wanted it (it happens…). There are many restaurants that would have microwaved the daylights out of the partially eaten burger, and sent it ignominiously back. Not Summer House: The waiter returned a couple of minutes later with a totally fresh hamburger, cooked to perfection — with brand new sides on the plate. Now that's the way to do it.
YET ANOTHER Went to Summerhouse again last night and, in spite of my previous comments about their fresh potato chips I ordered the sweet potato chips. They were great. None of them were stuck together, and they were light, crispy and not greasy at all. Do 'em that way every time, guys!
HOPEFULLY THE LAST UPDATE: A previous rating gave the bathrooms at Summer House a pretty embarrassing 2-star rating. It's unusual for such a good restaurant to have bathrooms in such bad condition. That is history. Summer House has renovated the bathrooms. They are bright, clean and have some nice fixtures in them. The ratings have been adjusted, including a higher service rating as we continue to get friendly and attentive service both at the bar and the tables.
Summer House is located at 228 Rehoboth Ave. They don't take reservations, but they might appreciate a call for a big party (302) 227-3895. They have lots of “specials” nights, Check out the menu. (L., D., Bar) Price Range: Moderate +.