The Restaurant Issue: 96 Favorites
In our tiny state, 96 restaurants may seem like a lot, so let’s put this in perspective: The Delaware Restaurant Association counts 1,900 members, everything from pizza joints to Zagat-listed classics. How do we choose 96? Editors considered the atmosphere, novelty, quality of cuisine, reputation, longevity, wine program, service and value at 200 top-tier restaurants (plus a few just over the state line), including past Best of Delaware winners. We didn’t include every neighborhood tavern—we’ll get to them in another issue—nor every neighborhood Italian place. (Find them at www.delawaretoday.com/Delaware-Today/February-2008/Dining-Guide-World-Class/.) Left standing: a diverse roster of places you simply must visit—if you haven’t already.
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Quintessentially Wilmington, Walter’s remains the place for a steak and beef done right. Don’t skimp on crab cakes or clams casino, but you’re visiting Walter’s for steak. Go for the 20-ounce Kansas City strip. On Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights, there’s a complimentary raw bar of juicy oysters, caviar and more. Never one to hop trends, Walter’s added hot-stone seared Kobe beef. It’s a perfect fit. 802 N. Union St., Wilmington, 652-6780
Crossing the Line
Far be it for us to stay home every weekend. These are just over the line and worth the extra 10 minutes of driving.
Bayard House Restaurant
Eastern Shore classics and Baltimore-style seafood favorites are the order of the day. The crab cakes are exquisite. 11 Bohemia Ave., Chesapeake City, Md., (410) 885-5040
Brandywine Prime Seafood and Chops
Owner Dan Butler did a fabulous job of renovating the old Chadds Ford Inn with exposed stone walls and warm woods. You’ll find a full range of steaks on the grill, veal chops and pork chops. 1617 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, Pa., (610) 388-8088
The first floor and deck offer tavern favorites that keep tiki bar patrons dancing to live music all night. Upstairs features fine dining on such classics as stuffed rockfish and beef on the grill. All areas offer great water views. 605 Second St., Chesapeake City, Md., (410) 885-2040
Visit one of the most romantic rooms in Chester County. This is why we love Jim Barnes and his team: duck breast with candied orange, leg confit, frisee-watercress salad, Port-poached black Mission figs and juniper-infused jus. The wine cellar houses 800 selections. 1390 Old Wilmington Pike, West Chester, Pa., (610) 399-1390
Fair Hill Inn
Chefs Phil Pyle and Brian Shaw grow their own produce and herbs, source artisan cheeses from around the world, and serve entrées such as roasted quail and braised boar. Note the house-made charcuterie and cured Italian meats. 3370 Singerly Road, Elkton, Md., (410) 398-4187
Seasonal and local is the mantra. Check the holiday antipasto of local pear and Fontina grilled cheese; local beets with sherry vinaigrette and crispy shallots; Medjoul dates with goat cheese and Tuscan salami and more. 696 N. Unionville Road, Kennett Square, Pa., (610) 444-5600
The wait for the lone table for eight at Bryan Sikora and Aimee Olexy’s 3-year-old BYOB is still a year. You’ll be treated to such dishes as beef tartare with poached quail eggs and capers, lasagna of potato and shaved porcini. 102 W. State St., Kennett Square, Pa., (610) 444-8255