Ernest & Scott Taproom is a Gastropub in Wilmington, Delaware

The Great Gastropub: Bistro-style cuisine and a unique beer menu help make Ernest & Scott Taproom something to write home about.



At a Glance

Ernest & Scott Taproom
902 N. Market St., Wilmington, 384-8113, ernestandscott.com

Recommended dishes:
shrimp and lobster risotto, chopped brisket burger, Cuban-style pork tenderloin

Prices:
Appetizers $6.50-$14.50, entrées $17-$24

 

In Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Owen Wilson hops into a magical cab, emerges in 1920s Paris, and pals around with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the movie, the pair come across like a literary Laurel and Hardy. Hemingway, brusque and macho, is a primordial picture of masculinity. He refers to things he likes as “noble and true.” Fitzgerald meanwhile is portrayed as polite, fey and sophisticated—and frequently overwhelmed by his nutty wife, Zelda.

Ernest & Scott Taproom, named for the American literary giants (one of whom, Fitzgerald, spent a few years living in Delaware), doesn’t bonk you over the head with such dichotomies. But the Market Street “beer-garden,” which debuted in January, harbors a few interesting contrasts of its own.

Owner Scott Morrison pours a brew.  Photograph by Jared CastaldiOwner Scott Morrison and his team overhauled the former Public House into a mishmash of old and new. Regal purple and gold drapes separate the bar from the dining area, and lend chic, while a towering sculpture in the main dining area hugs mammoth oak beer barrels, with the old Delaware Trust griffin logo blazed into the heads and staves. (The griffins, naturally, have hop cones for tails.) Outside, a light-up scoreboard-style sign lures Wilmingtonians inside toward the sparkling LED archways.

Fine, so Flashing Lights v. Coopery doesn’t have quite the same zing as Fitzgerald v. Hemingway. But what about Beer v. Food? Or Wilmington v. Rehoboth?

Helping to sort it all out is Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione, who consulted with Morrison on the E&S concept. The globetrotting Calagione had not only his cachet and celebrity to loan, but an arsenal of world-changing beer artistry.

The results of the collaboration are clear: E&S has taken the next big leap in Delaware’s gastropub revolution. Its weapon is a strong rotation of cask- and bottle-conditioned beers. The unfiltered and unpasteurized brews are known as “real ales” to beer nuts because they contain live, natural yeast, which over time helps to develop deep, rich flavors in beers. Served room-temperature and without extraneous gases to get in the way, conditioned beers are literally alive with fermented essence.

From one cask dripped DFH’s 75 Minute IPA, brimming with dulcet maple flavor and the bite of bitter hops. Cask offerings rotate four at a time, and brewers represented on my visits included Yards and Evolution. An even longer list of bottle-conditioned  beers exists. (Same concept, different vessel.)

The E&S bar is stocked additionally with bottles and kegs of strictly American craft beers, and its tenders are happy to line up four-pour samplers for the indecisive.

E&S boasts a strong rotation of cask- and bottle-conditioned beers, known as “real ales” to aficionados. Photograph by Jared CastaldiClearly E&S invested heavily in its beer program, so it’s fair to wonder whether the food can keep pace. Like Chelsea Tavern, Morrison’s cross-street venture, E&S subscribes to comfy, bistro-style cuisine, with a shake or two of uptown flare. His chef is Kevin Torpey, whose previous posts include Harvest Grill. He’s upped his game at E&S, subbing headstrong flavors in place of Harvest’s low-cal minimalism. Though at times, it seemed like the kitchen couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be big and bold like Hemingway, or elegant and poetic like Fitzgerald. Often, the dishes with the most flavor arrived in less-than-stellar condition.

Flounder Francese, for instance, could’ve used a bit more primping at the expediting station. The tender filets soaked up loads of zest from a citrus-butter sauce, but the plate’s many disparate parts—unruly mounds of polenta, crispy cauliflower florets, and splatters of sauce—comprised a mess of a plate. Far more egregious were the dozen or so pin bones I had to pull from my teeth.

Still, the E&S kitchen produced way more hits than misses. A far more focused (and Fitzgeraldy) dish was the house-smoked salmon starter: the fish, flaky and subtle, reposed around spinach greens, fried capers and crispy leeks inside a flaky puff pastry shell. Shrimp and lobster risotto united around a luscious, buttery lobster broth, plump shrimp and lobster claws, and an unmistakable burst of saffron that perfumed and enlivened every morsel. Rich and savory beef brisket made a luxurious filling for empenadas, and an even better foil for a garlicky green salsa that popped with delicious tartness.

Beer barrels are emblazoned with the old Delaware Trust griffin logo. Photograph by Jared CastaldiYet Torpey saved his best for the Cuban-style pork tenderloin, tender and majestic over a bouquet of crispy bacon, saffron rice, black beans and tomatillos. Its succulence was just barely overshadowed by the fried mini-doughnuts with chocolate stout sauce, and the chopped brisket burger with razor-sharp provolone.

I didn’t expect the side of steak with my steak, but that’s what made short rib and bistro steak frites such a puzzler. In one corner of the plate, tender hunks of braised beef short rib; in the other corner, sliced sirloin. Between was piles of fries and salad greens. The resulting plash of Béarnaise, demi-glace, salad dressing and meat juice that pooled on the plate was less than savory. The short rib, tender in the middle, was dried out at its surface. The bistro steak, drizzled with a heavenly rosemary-kicked Béarnaise, was cold.

Maybe a little unevenness is appropriate for a place named after two guys who shared a turbulent relationship. And most of all, beer-lovers should rejoice in the E&S beer garden. The craft beer tide hasn’t just shifted—it’s risen above our noses, and with Ernest & Scott, Morrison (and Calagione) has upped Delaware’s acumen. It’s an endeavor one could only describe as, well, noble and true.

As the real Ernest said: “I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure.”

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you,” Scott might say back.

2012 Savor Ernest

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January 2017

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Cost: $15 - $30

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110 Orchard Rd.
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OperaDelaware Studio
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Wilmington, DE  19801
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Newark, DE  19711
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
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Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 302-295-1164
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

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Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
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Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

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World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

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Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
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Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

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Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
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Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
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Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
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Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
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The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

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Cost: 15

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500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

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