Transitions in the Kitchen

A local author goes behind the stove, plus new digs and new menus abound.

Welcome to Home Skillet, where the only thing we’ll change this year is the grease trap. Here’s your week in dining news and events:

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Thursday, January 14: One of the more quietly buzzworthy places in Wilmington over the past year has been Fresh Thymes Café. The breakfast-and-lunch spot near the Forty Acres neighborhood is bent on fresh, local and organic food and has a strong veggie-friendly presence. It seems to have really picked up steam, customer-wise. It’s generally pretty packed during weekday lunchtime. Must be the killer quinoa salad.

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On Thursday, Fresh Thymes will remain open til 8:30 to host a special dinner with local author Zina DiTonno. DiTonno’s latest work, “God it’s Good! Food We Were Meant to Eat” is a look at natural and whole foods recipes. She’ll share a few with eager diners Thursday, including green apple and avocado soup, Mediterranean style tilapia with sweet potato, thyme and wilted greens, and raw cacao fondue.

Cost for the event, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is $40 per person. Call Fresh Thymes at 656-2026 to reserve your spot.


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New digs: Surely by now Wilmington foodies have heard the news: the former shining star of Market Street, Restaurant 821, will be reborn as Chelsea, an upscale gastropub.

Chef Sean McNeice, formerly of Cherry Tree Hospitality Group, along with restaurateurs Joe Van Horn and Scott Morrison leased the property from the Buccini/Pollin group and hope to open by March.

Big news keeps happening at Wilmington’s Market Street. Stay tuned.


New idea: Okura, one of the more highly-esteemed and traditional Japanese restaurants in the First State, is changing things up a bit—a little infusion of fusion.

On top of the restaurant’s traditional sushi rolls and dishes, the kitchen, led by chef Kailon Yeung, has added a variety of sushi and appetizers with inventive, upscale twists.

Take the Tuna Tower, which combines layers of chopped tuna, octopus and other goodies, seasoned with fresh cilantro and stacked along with some fried wontons. Or white fish with caviar and mango salsa. Or crispy tempura eel with cream cheese, crab meat and eel sauce.

“The kitchen is also inspired by unique flavors, so we like to infuse Thai and Vietnamese flair to our traditional Japanese food,” Yeung told me. “You’ll see that with our different types of curries or fish sauces.”

Yeung says the artful new items are meant to catch the eye, as well as excite the tastebuds. Okura’s loyal regulars, he says, are on board. “They keep coming back,” he says with a laugh.

Look for more on Okura’s new menu in Delaware Today soon.


New digs II: For those of us who aren’t exactly frothing over the “new” Domino’s Pizza recipe (and if you’ve got four minutes to spare, check out this compelling “documentary” about Domino’s “turnaround.” Sorry about all the “scare quotes.”) a new pizza option has emerged: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.

The South Florida-based chain opened last week in the Market Square Shopping Center (near Brandywine Town Center on Concord Pike), touting crispy, ever-so-slightly upscale pies like sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella (pictured), an arugula pizza, and a few other menu options. Check ’em out here. I’ll hit them up this weekend and report back.


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