When it comes to celebrations, a night on the town is a tradition. “Everyone wants to mark an occasion with good food and wine,” says Marian Parrott, owner of Sedona in Bethany Beach.
That’s easy to do at the beach, also known as the Culinary Coast. Here are six options to consider.
In 1989, 1776 was a Colonial-themed establishment with a $17.76 prix fixe menu. After changing hands in 1992, the Midway Shopping Center restaurant turned its focus to steak. Although the concept changed, the name stuck, and it remained intact after Tom Holmes and partners purchased 1776 in 2007.
Diets come and go, but steak remains a fine-dining indulgence, Holmes says. A top seller is the barrel-cut rib-eye, which looks like a filet mignon but eats like a strip steak. Pair it with a Caesar salad, creamed spinach or sautéed mushrooms.
4590 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach; 645-9355
This downtown Rehoboth steakhouse pays tribute to the Delmarva peninsula. The menu includes fire-grilled New York strip and oven-roasted filet mignon, along with crab cakes, day boat scallops and succotash with edamame.
The restaurant hosts a variety of celebrations. Increasingly, they revolve around home settlements, says owner Megan Kee, who also owns La Fable and Dalmata in Rehoboth and Bramble & Brine at The Buttery in Lewes.
Then there are the proposals. When one of Kee’s friends dined at Houston-White, she received a cake with an engagement ring dangling from the sugar decoration.
Celebrants get a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and savvy friends purchase gift cards for anniversaries to come. “They want them to relive the experience, and I find that very touching,” Kee says.
315 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 227-8511
Located in a former pizzeria, Sedona was the dream of Jonathan Spivak, a first-time restaurateur when he opened it in 1993. He passed the torch to longtime general manager Marian Parrott in 2008.
While every guest is treated like a VIP, Parrott pulls out the stops for special occasions. Sedona will print a personalized menu with a birthday or anniversary greeting. If it’s your birthday, you receive a complimentary dessert.
Reconsider bringing children along. The restaurant does not have high chairs, booster seats or a kids’ menu (and most little ones eschew duck breast with goat cheese mashed potatoes or a rack of lamb with a balsamic cherry demiglace). The focus on mature diners is one reason why Sedona reigns supreme for special occasions.
26 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Bethany Beach; 539-1200
On any given night in the season, Laura Rubino is at risk of developing writer’s cramp. The general manager prepares handwritten cards for the many diners marking special occasions at the Fenwick Island restaurant. (On Open Table, indicate a celebration when making the reservation.) Often, discerning friends call ahead to pay for a portion of a meal or pick up the tab, says Carlie Carey, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Scot.
The family also owns a nearby farm by the same name, lending authenticity to its farm-to-table cuisine.
101 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island; 537-4790