Joe Baker and Chris Bisaha’s Blue Hen is open in The Avenue Inn at 33 Wilmington Ave. The 2016 Delaware Restaurateurs of the Year singlehandedly made Henlopen City Oyster House one of Rehoboth’s go-to spots for great seafood. Their expansion involves the existing lobby and additional space in the new section of the Avenue Inn. HCOH Exec. chef Bill Clifton also oversees the kitchen at The Blue Hen.
Listen to Joe and Chris introduce the new Blue Hen on Delaware 105.9’s Sip & Bite with the Rehoboth Foodie.
The Blue Hen is about the same size as the existing HCOH, but with less of a focus on seafood. There are a number of small plates, including an interesting hors d’oeuvres and appetizers section. The menu is cleverly thought out with lots of comfort food items. I suggest you leave your diet at home when you come here if you really want to experience some great tastes. Like the Beef Fat Fries, for example. Don’t let the meddling food police intimidate you: Indulge yourself and you will experience some of the lightest, crispiest fries you’ve had in a long time; slightly redolent of peanut oil with a firm outside and a creamy inside.
The menu sports an interesting selection of charcuterie, including three (count ’em – 3!) kinds of ham and three kinds of sausage – including one cured with sangiovese. There’s no raw bar, but there is carpaccio (venison, yet), a tartare of beef made with Wagyu and an ahi crudo with … wait for it … fried artichokes. This one’s a must-get. The user-friendly menu reflects the same philosophy that has made HCOH so popular (just TRY getting a seat at happy hour!). Of course the craft beers (6 taps) and wines (2 wine taps) are all there – PLUS a nitro cold-coffee machine (introduced at last year’s CARNEVALE charity event at Touch of Italy – the stuff is DELICIOUS).
We started with the Lobster Toast. I am not lying – there are almost 25 emails in my email box telling me to get that dish. And it’s no wonder. Lightly crispy toasted brioche gives way to a cream cheese filling spiked with scallions, water chestnuts and a bracing hot pepper jelly. I do NOT suggest you order this to share. As is so often the case, sharing can turn to fork wounds. OR, share it and get the Duck Wings too. If you like duck, these savory little bites represent everything good about the little bird. A peppery sauce accompanies and actually adds to the flavor.
The beef fat fries. Ignore the name. They are delicious.1/9 The Blue Hen2/9 The Blue Hen3/9 The Blue Hen4/9 The Blue Hen5/9 Duck wings6/9 Properly brined and properly fried chicken.7/9 That lobster toast!8/9 Roasted Duck with a cute salad.9/9
For out first entrees I started with what they call Amish Fried Chicken. Ridiculously tender (obviously brined), and with a delicately crunchy exterior. One of the values added is that the breast portion (you get a wing, a leg and the breast) has been separated from the ribs, so it is breaded all-around. The coating is quite flavorful, so you want all of that you can possibly get. A mild hot sauce accompanies, and I found myself dipping that meaty breast into the sauce without having to battle bones. A little messy? Yes. Did I care? You know the answer to that….
It was a double-duck night (I made that up…), so we also ordered the Roasted Rohan Duck (the Rohan breed is a hybrid of several Heritage breed birds). The meat was tender and cooked to a perfect medium. The meat was topped with an arugula salad, sprinkled with marcona almonds, little red Craisins, and a delightful drizzle of blood orange Gran Marnier dressing.
Check out the gallery for some of the photos. With everything going on around here in this busy spring of 2017 it took us a while to get over to the Blue Hen, but we will certainly be back.
Look for the outdoor 20-seat patio and fire pit soon to open on the Wilmington Avenue side entrance to The Avenue Inn. If you see it open, let me know.
The Blue Hen is open at 5 for dinner only. Call 302-278-7842 for hours.