The Dining Guide: Perfect 10s
Whether you seek classic steaks, small plates or sea urchin, we know where to go—and it’s not always where you may think.
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You squirm. You giggle. You grimace. Then you wonder: Just what does that taste like? Restaurants across the state tempt curious diners with exotic ingredients. Some are ethnic delicacies. Some are local oddities. All have devoted fans. So go ahead. Order the weirdest thing on the menu. We double-dog dare you. Your bravery may be rewarded.
Ichiban Japanese Restaurant
737 N. Dupont Hwy., Dover, 677-0067
A delicacy in Japan, uni is a sushi made from the reproductive organs of sea urchins. Expect a strong ocean scent, dusky, fishy flavor and creamy texture. Ichiban owner Byall Lee serves it simply, with a bit of rice.
Back Porch Café
59 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3674
Sweetbreads are neither sweet nor bread. They are the thymus gland of a calf. Those served at Back Porch Café have such a devoted following, there’s a fan club. Chef Leo Medisch soaks and rinses them in water, par boils them, then sautés the slices in butter. The classic French preparation results in a delicacy that’s crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, with a buttery, nutty flavor. They’re served with warm pancetta and an aromatic veal sauce.
312 High St., Seaford, 629-3700
Owner Karen Pedemonte wears certain ingredients—frog legs, sweetbreads, calf’s liver—as a badge of honor. Among them is that best known of French delicacies: escargot. Though beginners may be sluggish when it comes to snails, regulars love them with garlic. Though a mollusk, escargots don’t taste at all like shellfish. They’re earthy and spongy, so they soak up the butter and brandy they’re sautéed in.
Frog House Restaurant
116 Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach, 539-4500
You won’t find much in the way of exotic offerings among the burgers, steaks and pasta at Dave McGee’s Frog House, save one appetizer: crispy breaded frog legs. Tender and mild, they do, in fact, taste a bit like chicken.
2800 Lancaster Ave., Wilmington, 777-5117
Mariachi does Mexican in a most authentic and delicious way. Try a taco of meats such as roasted cabeza (from a cow’s head), tripa (from a cow’s stomach) or lengua (beef tongue). All are served simply, with raw onion, cilantro and kicking hot sauce. The tender beef is worth the cold sweat.
801 S. College Ave., Newark, 737-4800
Dine on Australia’s national animal two ways. The Roo Burger and the kangaroo loin showcase the super lean meat. Both are prepared simply, with the loin getting a dusting of spices before it’s seared, then finished with a red wine demi-glace.
Masamoto Sushi and Asian Grill
Suite 6, 1810 Wilmington Pike, Glen Mills, Pa., (610) 358-5538
Impeccably fresh fish and awesome execution quickly made Masamoto a primo destination for sushi. The proof is Johnny Cai’s omakase (chef’s choice) menu, where suddenly trendy monkfish liver and silky, mild scallops make regular appearances, depending on the market.
7288 Lancaster Pike, No. 2B, Hockessin, 239-5590
Try the quesadilla de huitlacoche quesadilla: a corn tortilla filled with cheese, sautéed onions and smoky-flavored huitlacoche. Better known as corn smut, huitlacoche is a mushroom-like fungus that grows on corn kernels. The flavor is oh-so-slightly tart up front, earthy in the finish. Blended with the cheese, it is simply delicious.
Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant
110 S. Dupont Blvd., Smyrna, 653-1457
On Tuesdays throughout winter, the Wagon Wheel serves local muskrat cooked with stewed tomatoes, potatoes and other fixin’s. “We sell out every time we’ve ever done it,” says manager Richard Jacobs. “And they suck the bones dry when they order it.” Never tried marsh rabbit? The flavor is similar to beef.
Woodside Farms Creamery
1310 Little Baltimore Road, Hockessin, 239-9847
70 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-4606
Woodside Farms produces gallons of cream-of-mushroom ice cream for the annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival. Like all Woodside products, it’s made with local ingredients. Crave a bit more protein? Udder Delight in Rehoboth offers Woodside-made ice cream in bacon and barbecue flavors. Yes, those are actual frozen bits of bacon.
Page 4: Hidden Places for Great Beef