Unbridled gluttony at At the Rail, Moro reboots, and McKenzie goes bottoms-up for Oktober.

Restaurant Riff: At the Rail Wine Bar & Grille

“Brunch is the meal you eat when you’re too drunk to get up for breakfast.”
—Oscar Wilde

You gotta love brunch, especially when the best dishes are neither breakfasty nor lunchy. Sure, there’s usually some pancakes or cereal or something, but if you’re not going straight for the smoked salmon and prime rib while double-fisting mimosas…then you’re just not trying.

The Amis family knows this all too well, and we took our act to At the Rail the other week to celebrate our grandma’s 85 birthday.

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At the Rail, part of the beautiful White Clay Creek Country Club at Delaware Park, supposedly has a panoramic view of the golf course. But with an up-close view of this spread, who needs a bunch of manicured grass? Those pretty parfaits in back alternated layers of luxurious strawberry yogurt with granola, whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Now here’s what I’m talking about. Does anybody eat oysters for breakfast? Clams for lunch? But somehow a raw tray makes perfect sense at brunch. I wondered how many hangovers this icy tray of briny bivalves would cure this morning.

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More seafood: steamed shrimp coated in a rich, buttery lobster bisque sauce.

And since parfaits, sticky buns, and whipped cream-frosted waffles aren’t considered dessert (god I love brunch), there’s more dessert! Mini crème brulées, cheesecakes, and Boston cream pies comprised an impressive sweets table.

We may not have been too drunk to get up for breakfast (this time), but after several passes through At the Rail’s brunch buffet, we had certainly slowed down to a stagger. Our speech may have been slurred a bit, too. Thanks, At the Rail, for stuffing us silly last Sunday. You won this round.

New look: Michael DiBianca’s Moro has been a critical darling since it opened in 2002, and just this year was awarded the highest food scores for Delaware in Zagat’s annual ratings.

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Which makes now the perfect time to change everything up. This past week Moro unveiled a brand new look and concept. The new menu focuses on rustic, farm-to-table cuisine, including roasted local clams, slow-braised pork belly and pan-fried eggplant on the appetizer side. New entrées include pan-seared red snapper, veal Milanese, fennel-lemon and honey-roasted Lancaster chicken, and more. The best part is a new, moderate pricing level that puts starters in the $7-$14 range and mains in the mid-twenties.

Moro also underwent a visual overhaul: A centerpiece antipasati station is being built into a corner of the open kitchen, deep burgundy carpets are being installed, along with new window treatments, tabletops and light fixtures.

One new addition is part decorative, part menu item. DiBianca recently sourced jamón ibérico, a prized Spanish cured ham that’s rarely seen in the United States. Made from the black Iberian pig, jamón ibérico is cherished for its smooth texture and richness. DiBianca, ever the showman, has an ibérico “pointing” out from his antipasti station, beckoning guests as they enter the restaurant. He sells 1.5 ounces of the meat for $20.

Head to Moro as quickly as you can, because the exciting new elements have reportedly attracted some pretty huge crowds.

In other Moro news, the restaurant took home gold in the first Taste of Trolley Square Salsa Competition (teased here last week), barely edging out Toscana. To the left is a picture of Moro’s winning recipe, which utilized peaches as secret ingredient. Thanks to Wendy Scott at the Delaware Center for Horticulture for the tip and Paul Stambaugh for the photo.


Thursday, September 30-Sunday, October 3: Former home of the mythical Unicorn Ale (and current home of my very favorite sriracha-glazed chicken wings), McKenzie Brew House is kicking off its second annual McKenzie-Fest this weekend, replete with special festival beers, Oktoberfest music and authentic German fare.

To get the festivities started, brewers Ryan Michaels and Gerard Olson are hosting an Anti-Reinheitsgebot Oktoberfest Beer Dinner Thursday at the McKenzie Malvern location. Call them at (610) 296-2222 to reserve a $39 ticket. Celebratory beers include:

Pumpkinfest: Brewed with Pennsylvania Dutch pumpkins, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger

Oktoberfest: A malty, strong amber lager brewed with black pepper

La Faute: A dark, strong lager brewed with candied sugar

Oer Faute: La Faute, aged in a French red wine barrel in our house micro flora, providing added acidity, depth, and complexity

Krüg Bier: A hoppy, orange-colored German Ale made with lots of candied sugar and German Hops

Sunday, October 3: A collection of newbies will help usher in the latest Taste of Newark celebration, set to commence Sunday afternoon. Newcomers Mojo Main, Groucho’s Deli, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Mediterranean Grille, and Catherine Rooney’s will join the ranks of Caffé Gelato, Pinang, Ali Baba, Home Grown Café and many others on the Old College Lawn on UD’s campus.

For a full rundown, click here.

Organizers will also rekindle the “Iron Chef”-style Battle of the Chefs competition, where defending champion, Eric Aber of Home Grown Café, will attempt to fend off Peter Shade of Klondike Kate’s, Erin Finnegan of Kildare’s Irish Pub, Pamela Roman of Pamela’s Gourmet, Danny Profita of Caffé Gelato, and Joseph DiGregorio of Vita Nova Restaurant.

It all gets moving at noon. Tickets can be purchased for $40 at the Taste of Newark office (273 E, Main St.) and in the City’s Planning and Development Department (220 Elkton Road). On the day of the event there will be a limited number of tickets available for $50. For more information, call 368-2561, ext. 12.

Sunday, October 3: Meals on Wheels once again packed ’em in for its annual Wilmington fundraisers, the Evening With The Masters and Celebrity Chefs’ Brunch. Now it’s the beach’s turn. The eighth annual Celebrity Chefs’ Beach Brunch commences Sunday morning at 11 from Dewey landmark the Rusty Rudder.

A $95 ticket gains you access to food prepared by some of the beach area’s most acclaimed chefs. This year, the likes of Leo Medisch from Back Porch Café, Lion Gardner from Blue Moon, Jay Caputo from Espuma, Hari Cameron from Nage, and Jonathan Spivak from Salt Air will join many others to blow guests away with culinary works of art.

For a complete look at what to expect, click here. Call 656-3257 for more info and to order tickets.

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

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