The Pines officially opened to the public on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, and has become a certified hit here in Rehoboth Beach. After an extensive year-and-a-half renovation, any and all vestiges of the old SOB's and Hobos are long gone, and it's even a challenge to figure out where they were. The old yoga studio upstairs is now a cozy lounge called The Top of the Pines, with a future event space attached. It even has its own catering kitchen.
Our pre-opening exclusive feast started off with one of The Pines' signature dishes – well, not really a “dish,” as such, it's served on a Himalayan salt block. My followers on Cape Gazette have seen several articles about these amazing serving platforms. In this presentation, paper-thin, citrus-cooked (a la ceviche) slices of tuna rest on the block topped with a cool and crunchy asparagus slaw. See the photo in the gallery. It was delicious. The salt blocks are an adventure in themselves, as food can be served on them cold or hot, and they can be completely sanitized under high heat. They impart a very slight salt taste to the food that enhances flavor – and that worked especially well with the tuna. A one-of-a-kind introduction to The Pines.
Citrus cooked tuna slices on a salt block1/6 cheese & fruit board2/6 The Pines3/6 The mussels appetizer with salumi4/6 Seared Dayboats with purple risotto5/6 Spaetzle mac & cheese with sopressata6/6
The second course was their Cataplana steamed mussels with salumi (Italian for pretty much any charcuterie-style meat – in this case they use a nicely spiced sopressata imported from … right next door at Frank & Louie's Italian Specialties! The combination of that and the broth with the cherry tomatoes and asparagus made for delicious sopping with their house-made crostini. We had to ask for extra bread in order to maintain the proper broth/bread ratio! Shortly thereafter we were treated to what will become one of their signature dishes: the seared Dayboat (the big ones) scallops. The scallops are perfectly cooked and presented, but I have to say that the star of that plate is the butterfly pea/beet “purple” risotto (see the photo – it's indeed purple). Green chili oil and tomato butter round out the taste. I have to say that this is one of the best specialty risottos I've ever experienced. The dish will be available with salsify (a root vegetable related to the parsnip) as a vegetarian option also. My veggie heads are gonna love this one!
If you follow me at Cape Gazette or on Facebook you know that I am also a fried chicken maniac, dishing up my secret recipe at charity dinners and at local restaurant “throwdowns.” I pride myself on my crispy and spicy crust and moist interior. The bar is high when I try fried chicken, and I'm here to tell you that The Pines' chicken is right up there with the best. The crust crackles with spice – get ready for a little kick! – and has a delightfully meaty overtone due to the special brine. It's served “family style” surrounding an island of compressed watermelon, broccolini and garlic with strawberries and sweet potato “salad” (think fries but covered in all sorts of goodies). A whole bird serves 2, and a table of 4 can order a 2-bird platter with enough side goodies to go around. It's worth every penny. See it in the gallery.
By the way, another family-style dish served up for 2 or for 4 is the grilled Tomahawk steak. A smaller one (40 oz!) will serve 2 happy carnivores, and the bigger one (upwards of 70oz!) satisfies 4 people. The family-style concept is fun, and they will rotate some of these dishes as they settle into a groove.
I do want to mention one of the sides that is quite good: the Spaetzle Mac & Cheese. The upshot? Crispy bits of sopressata add bright little exclamation marks to every bite. Spaetzle is a soft egg noodle that hails from Germany, Austria and surrounding areas.
We topped off this feast with a tasty cheese/fruit plate with plump grapes, 3 flavorful cheeses, some spiced nuts and … well, order it yourself. It's cool and refreshing, and I'm sure the cheeses will vary throughout the year.
The Pines is located at 56 Baltimore Avenue, directly across from Aqua Grill, which is now owned by the same guys who created The Pines. Reservations for The Pines are strongly suggested: 302-567-2726 or you can visit them on the web at ThePinesRB.com. Click here to follow them on Facebook.