A Quiet Surprise

The Executive in Milford may be the best restaurant between Wilmington and the beaches. Gilmore's in West Chester puts a unique twist on French cuisine--and there's free bubbly.



The Executive

556 S. Dupont Blvd.
Milford

422-7530

www.executiverestaurant.net

Prices

Appetizers $6-$12
Light entrées $8-$10
Entrées $16-$29

Recommended dishes:

Cream of crab soup, Executive salad,
crab cakes, anything from the wine list

The grilled mako is served with fingerling
potatoes and vegetables.

Photograph by Keith Mosher
www.kamproductions.com

Shakespeare had it all wrong. A rose by any name might smell just wonderful, but how many women would want a dozen of them for Valentine’s Day if they were called, oh, faithless flowers?

Nowadays, a name is too important to be left to chance. It’s the first step in a successful marketing program. Which might explain why Milford’s newest upscale restaurant is called The Executive.

Zipping past it on U.S. 113, nothing but the restaurant’s sign would bring the word “executive” to mind. Out here, on the Sussex County side of the Mispillion River, just past Milford’s newest strip malls, the roadside architecture starts to murmur “outskirts.”

In fact, the building The Executive occupies isn’t glitzy enough to look like a retail operation. It’s a low-slung, unimpressive structure with wide panels of brick-colored siding, without the big, bright signs that mark most modern eateries. The restaurant doesn’t even fill the building, which it shares with a couple of professional offices. The name, it would seem, aims to give the operation a little more dignity, a little more class than might be apparent to the casual onlooker.

It’s a good notion, but a poor choice of words, at least in terms of luring travelers in off what is, after all, a major route into town. In this generic setting, “executive” is too generic a word. It doesn’t stick out amid the sprawl. Sure enough, when I Google it, I can’t find another Executive Restaurant anywhere in the country—only at places like cricket clubs in Australia and tennis clubs in England.

Luckily, the locals didn’t need a snappy name for a lure. They quickly discovered that the nondescript building disguised a surprisingly classy, upscale operation with a well-executed menu. The night we checked out The Executive, it played host to at least two office parties, as well as a small crowd for a Frank Sinatra impersonator, and the place was nearly full from our 6 p.m. arrival. If anything, the crowd was growing when we left during the second set.

Though it was a busy night during the holiday season, the atmosphere at The Executive was serene. The hostess had everything calmly under control. Though most of the wait staff was young, everyone seemed well trained. Except for a forgotten order for a second glass of wine late in the meal, we never felt neglected.

We were still getting accustomed to the unexpectedly swank atmosphere when we got the wine list, which just might be the Executive’s best feature, not for its length, but for its value and selection. A full two dozen are offered by the glass. That’s an especially large number considering the relatively modest length and reasonable prices of the overall list. Almost every bottle is under $30.


The hexagonal piano bar features a baby
grand piano that stands on a raised
platform beneath a glass-roofed atrium.
Photograph by Keith Mosher
www.kamproductions.com

It’s not a broad selection by any means, so it wisely concentrates on a limited number of varietals from America and Australia. The only Europeans are the Chianti and three Pinot Grigios. With four Shirazes, three Pinot Grigios, four Cabernets and five Pinot Noirs, you can conduct your own comparisons. Find out how two different Cabs taste with steak, or the Pinot Grigios with the seafood. Best of all, all but a handful of wines sell in a tight, affordable budget range: $18 to $24 a bottle, $6 or $7 a glass. Among the exceptions was the Fiddlehead Pinot Noir. At $57 a bottle, it’s the most expensive on the list, outside of the Veuve Cliquot.

Most impressive, some of these selections are quite good for the money. Archetype Shiraz, for example, is impressively deep-bodied and spicy for $7 a glass, $24 for a bottle. These wines aren’t underpriced. They’re simply good examples of the decent quality that can be found in the $10-$12 retail range these days.

For the finishing touch on this impressive wine list, even the descriptions for each bottle—occasionally gushy, but almost always accurate and helpful—give the impression that somebody here knows something about wine.

To that point, on service, atmosphere and the spectacular wine list, The Executive plays more like The Excellence. The kitchen doesn’t quite live up to that. Few could. Though much of what we tasted was good enough, the best dishes were those that stretched beyond the main menu’s rather humdrum mix of classics (French onion soup, veal Oscar, chicken Marsala) and new standards (coconut shrimp, seared tuna).

The standout of our meal was a pork chop in a soy-kissed pineapple honey glaze. The chop is grown wide, sliced thick and, on our visit, benefited from reaching the table hot and juicy. If every dish were that good, The Executive might rank as the best restaurant between Wilmington and the beach.

The main-menu preparations rarely have the same spark. Crab cakes are big and sweet, but lack a signature touch that might make them special. So do the filet mignon and New York strip, neither of which gets so much as a sauce on the side. An appetizer of crab-stuffed mushrooms has the same problem: good ingredients, good execution but the nagging feeling that something’s missing.


Chef David Michael takes a break from the kitchen
to visit with owners Tina and Eric Rambo.
Photograph by Keith Mosher
www.kamproductions.com

High-quality ingredients take a dish only so far. To be great, a kitchen must show some personality. The “lite fare” menu has the right idea—grilled chicken panini, wraps of chicken or shrimp—but the only sign of such spirit on the entrée menu is salmon with apples and orange marmalade glaze.

Choose carefully and you can assemble a perfectly modern meal, including a house salad of mixed greens, walnuts, strawberries and blue cheese in a gentle champagne vinaigrette, as well as cream of crab soup served in a bread bowl. The salad is mixed enough so ingredients mingle in every bite. The soup is carefully made with good ingredients, rich enough to be dessert, and a nice counterpart to the light, tasty roll that served as its container.

A couple of other dishes were near-misses. A plate of four broiled scallops, wrapped in bacon and artfully served, was dabbed with a tangy barbecue sauce that was better suited for grilled meat than for broiled mollusk. Something lighter and brighter would have been perfect.

On a few dishes, in a few ways, The Executive shows evidence of humbler roots. Though I enjoyed the seafood medley, it was a gourmet version of the old mixed seafood platter—crab cake, shrimp, scallops and a fish fillet, all broiled and served in their own juices. It’s a lot better than it might sound—everything is exceptionally fresh—but it left me longing for something more distinctive. Another example: The fingerling potatoes that came with entrées were more like thumbs. The vegetable medley was rough-chopped to a size fit for the farm.

Yet almost everything lived up to The Executive’s standards. The lone exception will disappoint those with a sweet tooth: the pie. It might have been homemade, but it was indistinguishable from what you might get at a good roadside diner. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what The Executive sounds like it should be—and sure enough, when I look it up, there’s an Executive Diner in upstate New York. I don’t have to make the drive to know it doesn’t compare to The Executive in Milford.



Ich Bin Ein Baker
Achtung, baby. This German does bread right.

The Frankfurt Bakery had been open only a few days when requests began pouring in. Four weeks later, owner Andreas Janke had a steady stream of customers he could barely keep up with. “It was three times the demand I was expecting,” he says. “I’m working 14-hour days.”

Folks in Dover are clamoring for Janke’s fresh breads and pastries. Thanks to German efficiency—or just some amazing family recipes—Janke had a hit on his hands.

Bread is a staple in a country that boasts around 6,000 varieties of the stuff. At Frankfurt Bakery (429 S. New St., Dover, 741-0180), Janke has it pared down to around 15. Customers love his hearty breakfast bread, which is baked with dates, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon and walnuts. Another essential is the Bavarian rye. “It’s the first item I sell every day,” Janke says. And you won’t find the Alpine Swiss in a supermarket. It’s blended with golden raisins and white chocolate. “Everything is from scratch,” says Janke, who grew up near Frankfurt. “Most of the time, my bread is still warm.”

Frankfurt has a custom sandwich bar that allows customers to pair Janke’s bread with lunchmeats and cheeses. The pastry menu is expected to expand. Just don’t go in asking for a slice of German chocolate cake—it’s not German. “Are you kidding?” Janke says. “You can’t even get coconut in most parts of Germany.” —Matt Amis

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February 2016

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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
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Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
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Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

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The Station Gallery
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Cost: Call for information.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611x2446
Contact Name: Nanticoke's Diabetes Education Department
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
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Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

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East Coast Garden Center
30336 Cordrey Rd
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Join us every Tuesday for this fun and educational enrichment activity. Students will learn to draw pictures from a variety of themes, including woodland animals, creatures by the sea, creepy...

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More information

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


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

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Cost: Free

Where:
Kimmel Center - Commonwealth Plaza
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA  19102
View map »


Sponsor: Kimmel Center
Website »

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

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Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


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

More information

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Cost: $50

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Rd.
Seaford, DE  19973
View map »


Telephone: 302-629-6611 ext. 2540
Contact Name: Maternal Child Health Clinical Educator
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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

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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Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


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

More information

This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

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Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
View map »


Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
First State Heritage Park
The Old State House
25 The Green
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: First State Heritage Park
Telephone: 739-9194
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Art, the fourth element of hip-hop, comes alive for enthusiasts of both art and hip-hop. Let your inner creativity and love for hip-hop hit the canvas. "All I Need" is...

Cost: $40

Where:
Humpty's Dumplings
277 N Keswick Ave
Glenside, PA  19038
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Sponsor: Creative Paint Nites
Telephone: 267-312-8339
Contact Name: Charisse R McGill
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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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Christiana Care at the New Castle Farmers Market Location: New Castle Farmers Market, 110 N. Dupont Hwy., New Castle, Market Stage Area Time: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Routine screenings for...

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Features activities and crafts that help visitors learn about local and national political roles in environmental conservation. Visitors can learn about the battle that politicians fought for a...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth will co-present "Tab Hunter Confidential" and "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" as part of its annual Another Take...

Cost: $8

Where:
Metropolitan Community Church
19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

More information

A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

More information

Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

More information

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