Middletown residents have long been hungry for a chef-driven restaurant in one of the state’s fastest-growing areas. The owners of Metro Pub & Grill are hoping to satiate that longing with a kitchen headed by executive chef Patrick D’Amico.
D’Amico brings impressive credentials to the restaurant, which opened in December in Peachtree Station. A Culinary Institute of America grad, he was formerly a chef de cuisine at Harry’s Savoy Grill and an executive sous chef at Hotel du Pont.
From left: executive chef Patrick D’Amico, chef de
He is now creating his own vision with stylized gastropub cuisine. Think American casual food with innovative twists.
The sleek dining room has all the modern-day accouterments of a trendy bistro—brick walls, wood floors and a moody black ceiling with exposed ductwork. Nicely spaced tables are set around the bar. There is also a slightly elevated area with luxe banquettes.
The drinks menu is au courant, too, with specialty cocktails such as the Middletown Boxcar with bourbon, cranberry purée, orange bitters and soda water, and The Whistle with gin, pear nectar and thyme syrup. There are also craft beers, including selections from nearby Blue Earl Brewing Company, Mispillion River Brewing and Dogfish Head. The wine list ranges from Cabs to Sauvignon Blancs.
Todd Meredith serves a flight of beers and a snack
We started our meal with America’s favorite picnic food—deviled eggs. These four orbs were topped with swirls of creamy golden-yellow yolks. There was no adornment, no added flashiness except a dusting of paprika. And we were fine with their perfect simplicity.
The golf ball-size shrimp fritters were wonderfully crunchy on the outside and plump with seafood inside. A piquant rémoulade added pizazz to the dish.
Our one disappointment of the evening was the foie gras frites. The dish was cold when it arrived at the table, and the foie gras gravy had congealed into unsightly, greasy globs amid the limp fries.
There were no miscues with the entrées, however. The two grilled, inches-thick hunks of beef coulotte steak had a slightly salty, charred edge with juicy, medium-rare pink meat. They sat enticingly on a puddle of creamed celery root surrounded by a crisp mélange of roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots and zucchini.
Steamed Mediterranean mussels
Pork belly with parsnip purée
The grilled swordfish was a gorgeous slab of fillet, nestled next to a mound of bright winter succotash with a frilly veil of frisée salad. A swath of orange-tomato vin blanc gave the dish a sweet flavor note.
The Metro burger was as plump as a pub patty should be. The meat was set on a soft brioche, slathered with yellow mustard, and stacked with American cheese, onions, pickles and a slice of tomato. A pile of fries, unlike our earlier dish, arrived hot and crispy.
Pastry chef Nicole Martine is also making a mark in Metro’s kitchen. The iced chocolate pound cake is as decadent and delicious as it sounds, especially draped with chocolate ganache and beautifully plated with dots of blackberry sauce, fresh blackberries, puffed chocolate rice and a cloud of whipped cream.
“Pat’s coffee break” is a grown-up take on the familiar workday interlude. Vanilla bean doughnut holes infused with orange zest and espresso granules were paired with coffee gelato and an Irish cream sauce for an indulgent treat. Three scoops of chocolate gelato from Caffé Gelato in Newark were also a fine ending.
Metro is the first endeavor by the RM Hospitality Group, which includes general manager Adam Cofield. The restaurant’s name pays homage to the railroad line that came through town, connecting it to other parts of Delaware, he says.
The restaurant group is planning to open a yet-to-be-named banquet facility, attached to Metro, in April. It will host sit-down events for 50 to 70 guests or cocktails parties for 90.
Another RM restaurant is set to open at the end of summer in an old bank at the corner of Main and Broad streets in Middletown. The concept will be upscale Italian, Cofield says.
It may have taken awhile, but Middletown is finally on its way to becoming a land of plenty.
17 Wood St., Middletown, 376-3876, www.metropubandgrill.com | PRICES: Appetizers $5–$11.50, entrées $15.75–$36, desserts $7. | RECOMMENDED DISHES: Shrimp fritters, grilled beef coulotte steak, grilled swordfish.