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The Brick Hotel

/ Updated on February 18, 2015

Of all the challenges that come with owning a restaurant (not to mention a hotel on top of it (quite literally), the one that most vexes Brick Hotel owners Lynn & Ed Lester is the local perception that the restaurant is a stodgy, fine-dining destination. Well, to be fair, when they first opened on Return Day '08, chefs Joe Sapienza and Gary Papp did stamp their own brand of hoity toity on the historic spot. One of the first diners, Governor Jack Markell, enjoyed all sorts of high-ticket goodies. But times change. Joe and Gary moved on, and Lynn is trying to let people know that the Brick is family-friendly and not at all stuck up.

We just finished our second visit to the Brick after the former chef's exit and the entrance of Mark Buchanan (formerly of the D.C. area). As much as we wanted to love this place as much as we did on our last few visits, there were both high and low points on each visit. I will start by saying that the service was close to perfect. It always is at the Brick; even in the bar. On our most recent visit with a party of 6, our server Lisa made the night delightful. On a high note, so did the appetizers. The Cheesy Crab Dip borders on perfect. It is rich and buttery, and the little pretzel bread bites work perfectly. Though the Buffalo Wings were crispy, the sauce touted as their hottest was actually quite mild. On a high note (it's a roller coaster ride, so strap yourself in), the Calamari was delicious. Though it was fairly light in color, it was perfectly salted and delightfully crunchy. An unusual (but very tasty) sweet relish sauce accompanied.

We also ordered the Tavern Fries, a signature dish at the Brick, and they were perfect, as usual.

Sadly, there were a few stumbles when the entrees arrived. And full credit goes to our server for holding things together. One of my newest and most favorite Foodettes, a local radio personality, ordered the “Fish of the Moment” (love the name). At that moment it was Rockfish with Herb Couscous and Winter Squash. The fish was there in spirit, but it lacked in taste – perhaps it needed more spice. When Chef Mark Buchanan dropped by the table, she had the moxie (this lady is NOT short on moxie!) to tell him what she thought. I was again surprised at the lack of any reaction.

Another high note: The Surf ‘n' Turf Burger topped with Crabmeat, Old Bay and Cheddar was encased in a roll that was fresh and soft, subserviently cupping the juicy beef and its cheesy/crabby crown. Each bite contained the perfect ratio of ingredients. The fries were hot, dark and crispy in the boardwalk style. I had ordered that before, and it's just as good now as it ever was. Another one of my newly anointed Foodettes (a mucky-muck with Southern Delaware Tourism) ordered the Braised Short Ribs with squash and mashers subbed for baked potato and broccoli. Short ribs (actually, any kind of ribs) start out very tough. It's the nature of the meat. That's why they are cooked “low and slow” to make them succulent. My Foodette was disappointed that one of the two well-proportioned ribs was so tough as to be inedible. Apparently it simply had not been cooked long enough to make it tender as it should have been, especially for $21. She left it on the plate.

A high note: The Veal Chop stuffed with prosciutto and sharp provolone with fingelings and glazed carrots. It was perfect. If I had one gripe, I wish the chef had trimmed more of the fat off the meat. It was completely covered with the melted cheese, it was hard to tell how much fat your were putting into your mouth. This extra courtesy from the kitchen would not have affected the moistness of the meat, given the fact that it was covered in the creamy melted cheese. But it did make it annoying to eat.

Last, and sadly not least, the Shrimp and Polenta Ravioli. The Shrimp Blush Sauce was undercooked; so much so as to be floury. As a result, any taste that might have been was overshadowed by the flour. The ravioli themselves were very mild. Not bad, not good. Just … mild. That's the best I could get out of the person who ordered them.

I hate writing critical reviews, especially when it's about a place for which I had such high expectations. But I try hard to be fair while telling it like it is, though I know I've probably lost a friend because of this article. But our disappointment over the entrees was palpable. I believe the Brick can overcome these problems. These people are professionals. It's going to take some work, but I look forward to that day. It might require a change in chef. I don't know.

On a brighter side, Lynn and Ed Lester have been successful in making the circa 1836 hotel into a warm and welcoming spot with moderately priced comfort food. The restaurant is stylishly cordial and family friendly.

By the way, the lunch menu is basically the dinner menu with more sandwiches, and minus the “Big Plates.”  I have not been there for lunch since the chef changeover, but I will leave the lunch portion of my previous article for you to use as a guide. It is a popular daytime spot and I suspect you will not be disappointed. You can still get the soups and salads — but the lunchy value-added is their legendary Fried Green Tomatoes, presented with a crabmeat and goat cheese- studded salad and Earl Grey-infused honey. I hope it's still as good as ever.

Other recommended lunchables at the Brick include the overstuffed Reuben on rye with peppercorn beef, the Roasted Turkey on Sourdough (with sweet relish, yet), and the triple-tiered BLT on Texas Toast.

The bar is cozy, loaded with maple, glowing sconces and inviting hightops that just beg you to order one of their specialty martinis, none the least of which the Moosetini, the Dirty Girl Scout and the Hava Mahaffey. I'll let you explore those on your own.

The Brick Hotel is at 18 The Circle in Georgetown, Delaware, sandwiched between the Citizens Bank and W. Market Street. There's tons of parking in the back, and a covered driveway and lobby entrance on the left side of the building to keep you dry. The trappings are Colonial to a fault, with inviting fireplaces, overstuffed chairs and indoor trees that twinkle well into March. Two huge front porches span the length of the building and are preferred real estate for holidays, warm summer evenings and, of course, Sussex' traditional Return Day celebration.


I'm sure that at least some of the quality service can be attributed to the fact that the Lesters are on the premises pretty much all the time (except during our last visit, unfortunately). Everybody from Garth, the effervescently snarky maître d', to Brooklyn Jo (all 4.75 feet of her), to all our other servers — these people seem to be genuinely proud of the Brick and its menu. Somewhere there's a disconnect and I hope Lynn can resolve it.

If you have had different experiences, please tell us about them below.

There is often live entertainment in the bar, and the Sunday Breakfast Buffet is the place to see and be seen. I strongly suggest reservations in-season. Check out the menus by clicking here. Always call in the off season (302) 856-1836. (B. (Sundays), L., D., Bar). Price range: Moderate +.

The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

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  1. Avatar Sam Reklaw says:

    We went for the Valentines Night menu. We were a party of 6. No one was pleased with their food. 2 had the 6 oz filet. Very small for the $23 price tag. One was sent back due to being overdone. Not much flavor and didn’t even look like filet mignon. Should have been rare. The flounder stuffed with crab was dried out and smelled fishy. The rock fish was also dry and flavorless. I’ve also never seen asparagus with such a “hairy” top on it, very unappealing. I don’t usually like to go to Restaurants with a holiday menu. They usually aren’t that good. I really went for the good company. I wiil listen to myself next time.

  2. Avatar Ronnie l says:

    Last week we went to the Brick again ,this time bring dear friends from out of town. What an utter disappointment . Service was so so . Food a big disappointment . My chicken cordon blue was crusted falling apart , I think it had cheese ?… Broccoli under cooked . Our friend had tough grizzly brisket . Maybe all was pre cooked. & heated . So disappointed .desserts were the best part. To top it off we received the check for 4 which included the tip printed out at 23o/o . When questioning this policy the maitre ‘d left it for our waitress to explain . As it was a fix prix meal with 1/2 price wine bottle the automatically had the tip put on the check . Never heard of this before. Only 4 people & a printed tab. With no warning . They just lost another customer . The place is charming , the food disarming!!!! So disappointed . Spoke with other Lewes friends who also say over the past year it has gone down hill. What a shame . It was our social go to place

    • Avatar Lynn says:

      Regrettably, I don’t check this website enough, as most of our (very frequent) reviews do come to us via other sites, and fortunately 9 x out of 10 are praises for all that we offer. I do regret your disappointment with this visit and quality food and service are at the top of my list in terms of continuing the success of my restaurant. I can speak to the auto gratuity that is added to our customer’s checks for special events, special offers, and discounted offers. ALWAYS

    • Avatar Lynn says:

      So sorry – my response went into cyberspace before I was finished. As I was saying, when gratuity is added automatically, it also states on the customer’s ticket that the “gratuity can be raised or lowered at the customer’s discretion”. I am sorry you did not see that, as it is most certainly expected that our customer’s would tip the server based on the service you received. I also know that my manager is on the floor nightly, and speaks to (just about) every one of the patrons in the restaurant. While I do not recall her sharing any dissatisfaction similar to yours (and for sure it’s been quite a while ago), I would simply encourage you to ALWAYS let the server or management know when your food and/or service is less than you expected. The constructive criticisms of our guests It’s what keeps us in business. We pride ourselves on quality, consistent food at The Brick. I do hope you’ll give us another try!!

  3. Avatar Ron says:

    Their food is very good. We have been a few times. The portions to price ratio is very bad especially in Georgetown. It may be something you can get away with at the beach. The pretzel rolls and crab dip app are out of this world. The kitchen is still very slow. From these comments it’s been years of the same ordeal. We went there just last month and it wasn’t packed, yet it took the kitchen 2 hours. We were there for 3 hours! Our server was good. The manager was terrible. Two people never got their meals until everyone was done eating. She barely apologized and made them pay. Usually you’d expect a meal on the house or a free dessert. It’s quite sad because the building blocks are there.

  4. Avatar JLG says:

    They must know who you are… We frequent The Brick quite a bit. The food is quite good. In our group we have a large range of tastes and our order is always diverse and sampled. Again, I repeat we have always enjoyed our food. However, we have never had good service. We keep coming back because of the location and the food and the vicinity to all the members of our group, we meet for everyones birthday and some other days in between… But, If you have someplace to be, find another place to eat. If they could get their service together, this place would be gold. We have been here for brunch, lunch and many dinners and drinks.

    • Avatar Lynn Lester says:

      Despite the concerns with service you have expressed here, I am so appreciative of your ongoing patronage of The Brick. So that I can properly address them, I would really welcome the opportunity to understand whether the service you are referring to is (1) the timeliness of food coming out of the kitchen and/or (2) the attention you received from your servers . We, of course, want every guest’s visit to rank among the top in terms of both food quality and service, and quite frankly, over the past several months, we have put a lot of energy and training into both. While it is easy for me as the owner to have my own perceptions of our success (or lack thereof), the customers’ perceptions are obviously those most important! Thanks for taking the time to share!!

  5. Avatar Tom says:

    Was really looking forward to eating here but left disappointed. On a Thursday night we arrived at 6:20 and left at 8:15, not by choice. I ordered a simple martini and waited 15 minutes, was walking out when I saw them bringing it. Salads took 25 minutes. The entrees arrived after an hour and 20 minutes into the experience. They had brought complimentary chips and salsa to apologize for the wait. Food was pretty good when it came, but after all that time we weren’t all that hungry. My companion’s stuffed chicken was excellent; my pork tenderloin was overcooked and didn’t come with the potato listed on the menu. Lynn says above that she is regularly there but we didn’t see her that night. I realize fine dining takes time but this was a bit ridiculous.

  6. Avatar Bob McBride says:

    We dined there last Friday night for the first time. The crab cakes were great, not one shell found! The brownie sundae was awesome. The server was very personable, but not very attenative. I could tell this was not typical, as the other wait staff were hustling.

  7. Avatar The Rehoboth Foodie says:

    I usually don’t respond to comments (there are so many!), but I have to say that, knowing Lynn Lester, she will make these problems right in a very short time. This lady knows her stuff, and she can certainly turn the kitchen around.
    I plan to return to The Brick (or at least send some of my loyal Foodettes and Foodies-at-Arms) very soon. Nothing would please me more than to write an article as complimentary as the first I wrote early last year.

  8. Avatar Lynn Lester says:

    No one is more disappointed in this than I am, as the owner. And there can be no excuses for sure, but have to say the concerns really did come as a surprise to me. As noted, I am onsite just about all the time and don’t miss visiting many tables every given night to determine the satisfaction of our guests. Obviously, we were off our mark this night. The Brick has just this week launched our new Spring Menu, and I look forward to continued very happy, satisfied customers!

  9. Avatar wayne shannon says:

    Took my father and brother there for an Saturday night dinner before Fathers Day and had a very unpleasant evening. Having worked my way through college in the restaurant business I am very tolerant of mishaps in restaurants and rarely complain but this was over and beyond poor service. I would have written sooner but have been out of the country since dining there and the European service I received and a remark last night by a friend while dining out me to action.
    WE had a reservation but were not told we would be dining on the roof since the Main restaurant was booked for a wedding, ok, but then it was cold and we did not have jackets, it took 20 minutes after being seated to even get someones attention. Long story short, they have to bring the food up from main floor on elevator, took forever, food was cold, we were not all served at the same time, disappointing overcooked fried oysters ect.
    The final insult was the owner had an attitude,was argumentative

  10. Avatar sam reklaw says:

    I took family from out of town and the food overall was pretty good. I did feel that the Mac & cheese that was made for two children (small portions) was overpriced @ $10 a plate. We got the cream of crab soup, that I have had on many occasions before and enjoyed it. One of the bowls had three pieces of shell & we only got through half of it. We asked our server to show it to the kitchen beccause it was not acceptable. We were not offered anything else or even an apology. The Management (a Gentleman) told us they would NOT take it off the bill because, I guess it was acceptable to them that shells were in it, due to the fact that it was fresh crab. I would think that $9 would not be worth a dissatisfied customer that will probably not return. Our bill was $136 but I guess that didn’t matter. Well I did bring this matter to someone’s attention and it was not taken care of to my satisfaction.

  11. Avatar Lynn says:

    Dear Diona: I am sorry that I obviously missed visiting with you Tuesday night during your dinner with us, as I try to check in with every one of our guests — it is one of the methods I use to monitor guest satisfaction, food quality and consistency, in addition to nightly followup with servers regarding their guests’ experience with us. No one reported any unhappy guests, but I will certainly follow up again with my staff. Whether it is at The Brick or any other restaurant, I simply encourage you NOT to leave dissatisfied to the point of a posting like this without having first made management aware, and giving them the opportunity to address your concerns. We obviously can’t “fix” things after the fact. We are excited to be putting in a new Spring Menu within the next month. Despite this experience, I am hopeful you will give us yet another try and when you do, please let me know as I’d like the chance to meet you and to ensure you a very positive dining experience with us.

  12. Avatar Diona says:

    I don’t know when you reviewed The Brick, but we dined there tonight, and were very disappointed. I won’t go back. I’d been there three times before and it was never great, but when I saw your rave review, I thought they must have really improved. Nope. Beer/Cheddar Bisque tasted like a bad cheese sauce. I had a few spoons and left the rest. My friend had the Maple chicken — dry dark meat — and if this was a quarter, I don’t know how small the chicken must have been. I had salmon, which was okay, but the risotto with is was gummy and awful. Veggies limp and tasteless. My glass of wine was the best things about the meal. You might want to check in and see if it is still up to your standards. I would doubt it!

  13. Avatar Cathy says:

    Best steak in Sussex County; waitstaff, bartend!ers, owner, great!

  14. Avatar john bimber says:

    hey i wanted to see if i could get those pics. emailed to me?ou can or can’t let me know if you have any promblems. thank you again for coming in

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