Second Street and Savannah Road
Lewes, 645-7755. www.butteryrestaurant.com
The Buttery’s Maryland crab cakes are served with grilled asparagus, purple fingerling potatoes and remoulade.
Photograph by Keith Mosher www.kamproductions.com
They just don’t make them like they used to.
The phrase popped into my mind as I left The Buttery, coastal Delaware’s acclaimed white-linen restaurant.
The Lewes landmark, situated on the corner of Savannah Road and Second Street in the restored Trader Mansion, is a welcome throwback to the days when dining out meant intimate tables near fireplaces, servers in crisp black-and-white attire and conversation over flickering votives.
During summer, diners demand romantic al fresco dining on the porch, where they smile at sidewalk pedestrians, smug in the knowledge that they are sipping $10 seafood chowder while the pedestrians are licking ice cream cones.
The Buttery is a rarity in an industry that embraces contemporary, stark decor and nightclub-worthy sound systems that boom pop music. It is a special occasion restaurant that happens to be in a resort town. And it has the prices to match. On our visit, the most affordable entrÃ©e was the vegetable jambalaya for $22. The two-page wine list mostly hovers in the $35 to $55 range. White Zinfandel, at $22, is the least expensive.
Crab cakes, surrounded by remoulade and a vibrant heap of roasted vegetables, were tasty, yet sized modestly. Hearty male diners might be disappointed, considering neighboring restaurants serve crab cakes the size of softballs.
While it has become a puzzling source of pride for a crab cake to lack filler, these twins were only too willing to fall to pieces. It was more a crab crumble than a cake. Thankfully, the cakes broke down into nice lumps instead of threads.
The rockfish was moist, meaty and flaky, with a glossy shine that proudly proclaimed its freshness. But I had to first get beyond the unattractive orange hue of the tomato-and-toasted almond Romesco sauce that blanketed the fish. It tasted fine, but it wasn’t going to win a beauty contest.
The fish’s dusting of crunchy sea salt was initially disconcerting, then oddly addictive. I grew so accustomed to it that I reached for the salt shaker when I sampled the grilled aged New York strip with peppercorn cream sauce. Oozing rosy juices, the strip was as tender as filet mignon.
Longtime chef Gary Papp would be lynched if he took the seafood chowder and bleu cheese salad off the menu. The latter is a tumble of mixed greens, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and cucumbers with crumbled bleu cheese and splashed with a honey-mustard vinaigrette.
Though dedicated to the traditional, Papp also likes to jazz things up. Shrimp, wearing a zucchini cummerbund, preened atop caramelized fennel risotto. The oyster appetizer looked like any other fried version until I took a bite. Andouille sausage in the coating packed a pleasant heat.
Despite The Buttery’s fancy ambiance, service on our visit was casual—maybe too much so. Our server leaned against a chair back to take our order, as though she’d been on her feet too long. But she was attentive. Not one dish was wrong or prepared incorrectly.
Perhaps it’s true that there is some resting on laurels at The Buttery. At the same time, the restaurant has a corner on old-fashioned dining without old-fashioned stuffiness.
For those seeking a side of gentility with their grilled steak, this restaurant is worth the price.
A Gadget for Every Need
Left your risotto paddle at home? No prob. Pop over to Kitchen & Company for that and 3,000 other cool tools.
You’re at the beach when suddenly you realize that you need a shrimp de-veiner or a clam knife or maybe some escargot tongs. Where do you go?
The 12,000-square-foot Kitchen & Company on Del. 1 in Lewes may be the smallest store in the chain of seven, but it was the top earner for several weeks after opening last fall.
Its success is partly due to its location. “We do really well in communities that have great restaurants and where people are really into food,” says owner Eric Brinsfield. It also helps that upstate residents with beach homes are already familiar with the brand. There is a store in Stanton.
The Lewes store, however, has a unique offering. The 12,000-square-foot Cape Wine & Spirits, also owned by Brinsfield, is right next door. The idea to open a liquor store stemmed from his dissatisfaction with other establishments.
Both stores espouse a philosophy that embraces choice and affability. For instance, instead of promoting a lifestyle—think Williams Sonoma—Kitchen & Company promotes a task.
“We don’t pick the one cool can opener or cool spatula,” says Brinsfield. “We’ll have that cool one and an expensive French one and some more moderately priced ones as well, so there is something for everybody.”
You’ll find a commercial knife, an ergonomically correct knife and an old-fashioned knife with a wooden handle. The 130-foot gadget wall displays more than 3,000 tools.
Kitchen & Company also strives to cover a category. If you’re planning to eat oysters, you can buy the knife, an ice crusher and the platter to put the ice on.
Like its sister store, Cape Wine & Spirits offers a wide variety. There are wines that would make epicureans sneer and wines that would make them coo with delight.
“We approach it from the standpoint that we’re not going to judge your taste,” Brinsfield says. “We’re not snobby, yet we do have exclusive products.”
Good For You’s new shopping service, run by co-owner Andy Meddick, can make your vacation a little less stressful.
Photograph by Steven Billups
Shopping Made Easy
On the list of things to do during your beach vacation, grocery shopping ranks in the basement, especially if you’re trying to plan healthy meals.
Enter Andy Meddick and Tom McGlone, owners of the new Good For You Natural Market in Lewes. (Think a small, locally owned Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market.)
By visiting their www.good4uorganic.com, you can order groceries that will be ready for pick up or delivery when you start your vacation.
“It’s miserable when you come down to the beach and the first thing you have to do is go grocery shopping,” McGlone says. “You want to relax right away and get to the beach. I think this beach box program will help people focus on their vacation right away.”
With merchandise ranging from organic tomatoes to chemical-free meats to toilet tissue made from recycled paper, the beach box program is sure to make vacationing this summer easier for both the mind and body. —Emily Picillo
Is there a chocoholic on your list? Dave Bruner of Magnolia has just the thing: Bruner’s U Oughtta Be On Chocolates uses a new technique called chocolography to personalize hand-made chocolate bars, truffles, and lollipops with pictures, designs and messages. Images are printed with FDA-approved food coloring. Creations run from $1 to $49.95.
Here are a few things you oughtta do with chocolate:
Spark up your career with chocolate business cards.
Have a favorite pet’s picture printed on a chocolate bar. (But be advised: Chocolate isn’t good for dogs.)
Create personal and delectable trading cards for young athletes.
Announce a birth with chocolate lollipops.
Send a chocolate birthday card.
Buy a chocolate picture frame.
Send chocolate wedding photos to loved ones, create chocolate holiday ornaments or send an album cover to your favorite aspiring musician.
“People think chocolate is just for Easter or Valentine’s Day,” Bruner says, “but chocolate is for every day.” For more, visit www.Yoboc.com, or call 335-5234. —Emily Picillo