That classic spot at 236 Rehoboth Avenue has played host to many influential businesses. Astral Plane (where budding restaurateur Alyson Blyth waited tables). Sydney’s – the creole restaurant that became a hub for live music and jazz even in the off season (and one of the seeds from which the current Jazz Festival grew) and of course Doug & Lisa’s Pig & Fish restaurant – the first of the three little pigs, two of which are going strong on Coastal Highway (Pickled Pig Pub) and in Lewes (Pig & Publican). A new venture has appeared in that spot under the name of Cuvee Ray. Attorney Ray Kurz’ dream has become a reality! Former Catch 54 GM Chris Racine will head up the front of house, with Joe Churchman of Bramble & Brine fame in charge of the kitchen. And it’s only right that Sydney Arzt book the music!
As an added bonus, starting at 6 on Sunday Sept. 2, The Rehoboth Foodie’s Jazz Organ Trio, 2nd Time Around will be at Cuvee Ray! The more wine you drink, the better we’ll sound! See the band’s entire calendar by clicking here.
Cuvee Ray opened with great fanfare in early July of 2018. I had the pleasure of attending the media/ friends & family party. Wait ’til you see what they’ve done on the inside! It’s bright and welcoming, and many of the walls that divided the areas have been removed. The star of the show is the huge glassed-in chef’s table positioned in front of one of the biggest humidity/temperature-controlled wine vaults I’ve ever seen. It’s in the back room (where Sydney’s used to be!) in an area formerly walled-off for storage.
In spite of it being their very first night (indeed, HOUR!), everything went smoothly, with dishes coming out of the kitchen sporting normal ticket times. The bar was ably manned by none other than award-winning barkeep Rob Bagley. Though I went in to sip some wine, when I saw Rob I had to get an orange crush.
nicely seared scallops1/14 Cuvee Ray Wine Bar2/14 The back dining room3/14 butter-poached lobster4/14 Charred deckle5/14 Cheese plate6/14 Corkscrews make a sign7/14 Poached halibut entree8/14 Flavorful pork ragout over pappardelle9/14 Owner Ray Kurz in the chefs table/wine room10/14 Joey’s signature ribeye11/14 Tomato Salad12/14 Cuvee Ray Wine Bar13/14 award-winning barkeep Rob Bagley14/14
The abbreviated menu was simply divided into “firsts” and “seconds” and offered a good selection of items. I started with the Charred Deckle (a Joe Churchman must-get). The perfectly cooked chunks of meat (affectionately referred to as “burnt-ends” in the BBQ business – and that’s NOT a bad thing!) rested in an impossibly delicious sweet corn and mizuna sauté. Mizuna is a Japanese version of mustard greens and the slight bitterness of the lettuce-like leaves worked perfectly with the corn. Egged on by Rob’s offering of a second orange crush, I went for yet another Joe Churchman specialty: Pork ragout over pappardelle. I was (and apparently still am) addicted to any and all of the chef’s ragouts and bolognese sauces at his long-gone Bramble & Brine. He is still on his game when it comes to good seasonings and the perfect ratio of meat to sauce. Hopefully Joe has found a home there at Cuvee Ray in downtown Rehoboth.
Fortunately the place was full of other media people who simply cannot stay away from a camera, so I was able to glide from table to table and get more photos for you! Scroll through the gallery and take a look at what’s in store for you at the new Cuvee Ray. I will add more food descriptions as I add more visits.
Click here to hear owner Ray Kurz and Exec. Chef Joe Churchman talk menu and wines on the Feb. 24th Sip & Bite broadcast on Delaware 105.9FM.
Cuvee Ray is in the 3rd block from the ocean on the south side of Rehoboth Avenue where Pig & Fish used to be. Reservations at 302-567-2942