Simple, But Not So Plain
Rigby’s Bar and Grill went out on a limb, then came back again. The result: a reasonably priced menu of bistro fare that can be very good.
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Steak frites, Berkshire porchetta, steamed mussels
There’s something weirdly incongruous about gourmet cheesesteaks. It’s a fun concept for this area, and some kitchens pull it off in neat ways. Sampan in Philly, for instance, does short rib cheesesteaks on Asian bao buns. Our own Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant makes sinful cheesesteak egg rolls.
But why go messing with a cheesesteak? It’s like hearing a symphony orchestra cover The Clash; it sounds classier, maybe more expensive, but it’s just not as good as the real deal.
Rigby’s Bar and Grill in Rehoboth Beach had a gourmet cheesesteak on its menu earlier this spring. As of late May, it hadn’t appeared on the summer menu, and as a result, the menu was much improved.
Rigby’s became Rigby’s last year when first-time restaurateurs John Black and John Glenstrup purchased popular GLBT-friendly Partners Bistro. Partners was famous for comfort food such as fried chicken and prime rib.
Black and Glenstrup brought to the table a more upscale menu, so Rigby’s is, by their definition, a “neighborhood place,” but one that offers such dishes as prosciutto-wrapped monkfish and short rib risotto.
Though the name is changed, Rigby’s still serves a mostly gay clientele. The new name is a bit of a misnomer, however, more bistro than bar and grill. Genre stalwarts such as steak frites, French onion soup and charcuterie prove the point. And those dishes were very good. Happily, the summer menu is loaded with similarly simple and delicious food.
I emphasize delicious. I hadn’t loved the “gourmet” cheesesteak of my first visit. Having swapped top round and Whiz with chunks of filet and manchego foam, it added frizzled black trumpet mushrooms and caramelized cipollini onions. Those are nice building blocks—and the culinary wit was most commendable—but the result was a mess. Meat juice seeped into the brioche, turning it into mush, and the cheese foam fizzed away into nothing.
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