From sushi and sashimi to edamame and Pad Thai, West meets lots of East at Potstickers.">

GO! Eat & Drink: A Stylish Asian Surprise

From sushi and sashimi to edamame and Pad Thai, West meets lots of East at Potstickers.



 

Potstickers Asian grill & Sushi Bar

1247 New Churchmans Road, Newark n 731-0188

Prices: Appetizers: $8-$10.50; soups and salads: $4.50-$9.75; entrees: $18 to $27 (grilled lamb chops)

Recommendations: Potsticker sampler, sesame chicken, the
spider roll (fried softshell crab), eel sushi, seared albacore sushi.

  

Every sushi lover knows the dilemma – you get the craving for something laced with wasabi, but your significant other, or the couple you’re meeting, can’t abide the stuff.

Forget trying to persuade a raw fish hater that sushi isn’t just raw fish—that some of the seafood is cooked, that some pieces are meatless. It’s no use extolling the virtues of lean protein and stunning presentation, how a good chef achieves balance among delicate flavors, and makes the morsels look as stark and cool as Danish furniture.

That conundrum is easier to negotiate these days, thanks to the rise of a new type of hybrid restaurant, one that marries the energy and excitement of the sushi bar with the bolder flavors of other Asian culinary traditions.

Pulling off this trick isn’t as easy as it might sound. For all their similarities, each Asian cuisine requires unique skills. Cooking passable imitations of each cuisine isn’t too difficult, but elevating them beyond the take-out level is a real challenge. Thai curries want careful blends of spices. Chinese stir-fries demand sure timing at the wok. And sushi is a world unto itself. Not so long ago an aspirant had to spend eight years as an apprentice—six of them learning to perfect the rice that gives the dish its name—before assuming the mantle of sushi chef.

Such pan-Asian restaurants have a long history in Wilmington. Pan Tai, the longtime Union Street fixture that dished up Thai and Vietnamese cuisines with equal aplomb, pioneered the concept back in the ’80s. Now, given the popularity of sushi with the public (and its high per-table tabs with restaurant owners), bi-cultural restaurants are more likely to build on a Japanese base.

Perhaps Delaware’s most familiar current example of this trend is Jasmine, the distinctive Concord Pike eatery whose sleek décor and stylish food belie its shopping-strip locale. By snazzing up the dining room, gussying up the presentation and serving cocktails in martini glasses instead of tiki mugs, Jasmine makes what might seem like familiar ethnic food seem special in an upscale-casual vein.

Evidently the concept is spreading, as illustrated by the late summer opening of Potstickers Asian Grill & Sushi Bar in Christiana, in the large shopping complex across from the hospital that’s anchored by The Home Depot.

I know that sounds unpromising, and granted, the surroundings could dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, especially while negotiating the acres-eating parking lot. Turn in near the chain Australian steak house, go left at the seafood chain where shellfish goes to die, drive around behind the Italian chain that treats you like family (perhaps relatives who won’t be invited to the next wedding), and there you are. Seeing so many restaurants where the national advertising budget dwarfs the local payroll doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in prospective customers.

Once you walk in, though, the advantage of installing a dining room in a big-box center instead of a smaller strip mall becomes obvious—more room for a designer to play with. Instead of foam tiles looming only 10 or 12 feet overhead, as in most shopping centers, at Potstickers the ductwork and other utilities remain exposed, yet disappear into the heights above bold red light fixtures that look like Japanese lanterns on steroids.

The rest of the décor picks up the creative tension implied by the vaguely Japanese aesthetic—wood contrasts with stone, geometric china plays off organically curved flatware, and high-backed, shell-shaped banquets interrupt the regimented atmosphere cast by the stern, blocky, rectangular tables and chairs.

A niftier trick is the way the décor pays homage to some of the traditions of old-fashioned Asian restaurants while simultaneously winking at them for a sophisticated audience. For example, while most corner Chinese eateries perch a smiling Buddha statue near the cash register, at Potstickers, a soaring stone wall across from the bar is studded with more than a dozen niches containing Buddhas in various materials and most imaginable poses. A sprawling Chinese mural backs the bar, adding to the luxe atmosphere.

The net effect of all this splendor is a dining room swank enough to coax patrons into splurging on specialty martinis and cosmopolitans (there’s also a rudimentary list of wines by the glass and a better-than-basic choice of beers). It justifies entree prices that pull the average check up to about $40 a person.

Of course, none of this would work if the kitchen couldn’t deliver the goods. Luckily—maybe it’s all the Buddhas—it rises to the challenge.

Start with the restaurant’s namesake. Naming a restaurant after a particular dish, especially one as prosaic as pot stickers, shouldn’t set high expectations. Nonetheless, the kitchen clears the bar with ease. The dumplings, some steamed, some fried, come in four fillings: shrimp, pork, chicken and vegetable. Each was first-rate—thin wrappers given a quick cooking, filled with spanking-fresh ingredients and distinctive enough seasoning to make each stand apart from the others. You can eliminate the need to choose among them by ordering an eight-piece sampler, which arrives with pickled vegetables and a mesclun-based garden salad in a ginger-tinged dressing.

Other appetizers run the Pacific Rim spectrum, from tempura and edamame to spring rolls and satay. The entrees are more segregated, split into two main categories: sushi and sashimi from Japan and stir-fried favorites from China. These are supplemented with a few Thai and Vietnamese specialties, along with some dishes best categorized as contemporary American cooking with Asian influences.

Even the dishes that wouldn’t seem out of place on a take-out menu are elevated by artistic presentations. Duck is prepared two ways: as breast meat seared in the French manner, then served with a whiskey-spiked Hoisin sauce, and as shredded leg meat stir-fried with mixed vegetables. Both are conventional treatments. What’s unusual is the juxtaposition and the composition of the plate, one half painted with Hoisin sauce beneath the tender breast meat, the other piled with shredded meat and sautéed green vegetables.

The Western influence went beyond the presentation. Though Chinese restaurants often cook duck too briefly to render the layer of fat beneath the skin, leaving the skin limp and chewy, there was no such problem here.

A mound of crispy sesame chicken, served in a striking rectangular cross between a bowl and a dish, consisted of bite-size, batter-fried chunks of meat in a lightly citrus-flavored sweet-and-sour sauce—basically a sprightly variation on orange chicken. It, too, was paired with a second Chinese menu staple, dry-sautéed green beans. Well, it’s a staple for those who troll the vegetarian section of Chinese menus, and the Potstickers version, though a bit under-seasoned, was better than most.

Sushi lovers might have the most grounds for complaint—not over the quality but the somewhat limited selection. My own taste in the stuff is anything but hip. I prefer traditional standbys like eel and tuna to the overstuffed, heavily sauced combination rolls so popular these days. I was disappointed but not surprised to find many of my stodgy favorites—mackerel, octopus, flying fish roe—failed to make the roster, but the eel and seared albacore helped cushion the blow. The choice of creative rolls is likewise brief, but the spider roll—named after the fried soft shell crab whose legs poke out either end—made a tight, tasty bundle, crisp and fresh.

Pad Thai was the only dish we tasted that lacked the spark of something special. The classic Thai noodle salad was OK—the shrimp were especially tender—but more vegetables and fewer noodles would have given it a better balance of body and crunch, and the sauce needed a piquant kick.

The parade of striking plates continued at dessert, highlighted by twin pyramids of smooth chocolate mousse between trickles of raspberry sauce. All this was brought to us by a cheerful rookie who was still learning to recognize various types of seafood on the sushi platter and, for that matter, the difference between still and sparkling bottled water. I hope she survives the amount of attention Potstickers should get when word spreads.

In the chain-choked environment of Christiana’s I-95-Route 1 interchange, any decent one-of-a-kind restaurant will stand out from the crowd. Potstickers is better than that—bright, imaginative food in a space that works for anything from after-work dinner to weekend date.

And that’s true even if you don’t eat sushi. 

DT

 

 

Cheers to 10 Years

 

 

On a Thursday in September, partners Kevin Finn, Kevin Davies and Mark Edelson got together in Newark to brew beer. It was the trio’s first collaborative effort, which is surprising considering they own Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant.

Typically, Finn handles marketing and operations, Davies oversees the restaurant and Edelson brews the beer. Before heading into the brewery, Finn joked, “We hope our friendship will survive it.”

They also hoped the beer—Iron Hill’s first attempt at a Belgian dark brew known as Trappist ale—would turn out as planned. For this is a very special beer for a very special occasion: The bottled ale marks Iron Hill’s 10th anniversary.

Apparently, both the friendship and the beer have survived, and Fe10 will be released on November 14, the date that Iron Hill opened in Newark. (“Fe” is the symbol for iron, and the “10” indicates both the anniversary and the ale’s respectable 10 percent alcohol content.)

A robust beer is appropriate for a business that has come on strong over the past decade. Last month Iron Hill opened its sixth restaurant, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Two more restaurants are planned for 2007.

Finn largely credits the staff, many of whom have been with Iron Hill since the start, as the secret to the chain’s success. There have been 17 marriages among Iron Hill staff, and Iron Hill romances have produced 15 children.

The customers have been as loyal as the employees. Finn says 93 percent are repeat visitors. “Newark has the highest number of repeat customers, followed by West Chester,” he says. At West Chester, regulars come at least once a week or more.

Apparently, customers can’t get enough of items that have been on the menu from the start. In 10 years, Iron Hill has sold 124,167 Tex-Mex egg rolls, 493,190 “brewski burgers” and 33,386 wood-oven Garcia pizzas. The latter, which features exotic mushrooms, was named for Jerry Garcia, whose willingness to experiment with all types of drugs—including ’shrooms—is legendary, Finn explains.

In 10 years, Iron Hill has produced 967 batches of beer, which equals about 240,000 bottles. Its creations have received a total of 19 medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

The partners show no signs of stopping their healthy expansion. They are currently talking to developers in Philadelphia and looking at sites in Lancaster.                      —Pam George

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View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
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Cost: free

Where:
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Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with Admission

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Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
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View map »


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More information

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Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
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2301 Kentmere Parkway
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View map »


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More information

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Cost: Free

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2nd Floor, Carvel Building
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View map »


Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
Website »

More information

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Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
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View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities at the Delaware Museum of Natural History's newest special exhibit. Undertake...

Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: see description

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View map »


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

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
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View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

Between 1917 and 1944, the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) hosted annual exhibitions for its members. Famous painters and Sunday painters were able to exhibit their work in enormous open shows...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
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Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host bariatric support groups on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Medical Staff...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
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Whether you’re renovating an outdated bathroom or designing your dream kitchen, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery can help. Their state-of-the-art showrooms are...

Where:
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
2000 Maryland Ave.
Wilmington, DE  19805
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Telephone: 302-656-4421
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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet each Thursday for a total of five weeks – four...

Cost: Childbirth class, $50. Refresher class, $25.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2540
Contact Name: Nanticoke’s Maternal Child Health Clinical Educato

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Join Hagley for a night at the movies featuring classic films we all know and love. Specialty themed cocktails and food available for purchase at the event. Wear your favorite science fiction shirt...

Cost: $2 per person

Where:
Hagley Museum and Library Soda House
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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[Un]Ravel, a show of photographs by Joshua Meier, will be on view in the Mezzanine Gallery from February 3-24, 2017. An opening reception to meet the artist will be held on Friday, Feb....

Cost: Free

Where:
Mezzanine Gallery
820 N. French Street
2nd Floor, Carvel Building
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: Delaware Division of the Arts
Telephone: 302-577-8278
Contact Name: Roxanne Stanulis
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February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-9111
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Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities at the Delaware Museum of Natural History's newest special exhibit. Undertake...

Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Between 1917 and 1944, the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) hosted annual exhibitions for its members. Famous painters and Sunday painters were able to exhibit their work in enormous open shows...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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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
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host bariatric support groups on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Medical Staff...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
Website »

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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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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

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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JOHNNY WINTER ALL STAR BAND The Johnny Winter Band has been wowing audiences everywhere with incredible music played by Johnny's band and guest artists. Join Paul Nelson and The JW Band in a...

Cost: $20 ADV + $22 DOS + FEES

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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Now in its 8th year, the PAWS for People Conference/Annual Meeting is designed for those who love their pets, are pet enthusiasts or who want to learn more about the world of Pet Therapy. This...

Cost: $45 through 2/14; $50 after that date; $5 discount for PAWS members.

Where:
Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: PAWS for People
Telephone: 302-351-5622
Contact Name: Clarice Ritchie
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February 3 – 25 Group Show featuring still life paintings in oil by Rosemary Castiglioni; gestural animal paintings by Gay Freeborn; and plein air landscapes from Zion National Park,...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities at the Delaware Museum of Natural History's newest special exhibit. Undertake...

Cost: Adults: $9 Children (3-17): $7 Seniors (60+): $8 Under 3: FREE Members: FREE

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Website »

More information

Uncover the facts, fictions, and fossils of Dinosaur Revolution as you LIVE LARGE in reptilian role-play activities. Undertake three Mesozoic Missions spanning 150 million years and mimic dinosaur...

Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Newark, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-9111
Website »

More information

The Wilmington & Western Railroad's Hockessin Art Festival is a fundraising effort to benefit the railroad. Over 25 artists will be displaying and selling limited-edition...

Cost: $3 for art show admission; $5 for train fare (children under 2 are free)

Where:
Hockessin Memorial Hall
606 Yorklyn Road
Hockessin, DE  19707
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Sponsor: Wilmington & Western Railroad
Telephone: 302-998-1930
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Are you interested in learning more about what volunteer opportunities the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation has to offer? Consider attending our Volunteer Open House at our shipyard in Wilmington, DE from...

Cost:

Where:
Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
1124 E 7th St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Between 1917 and 1944, the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) hosted annual exhibitions for its members. Famous painters and Sunday painters were able to exhibit their work in enormous open shows...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

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DCM Guests will experience, engage in, and take home different STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathmatics) activities run by Science Ambassadors from the Charter School of Wilmington...

Cost: $8.75

Where:
Delaware Children's Museum
550 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 302-425-4890
Contact Name: Joe Valenti
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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
View map »


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

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Build a hydraulic-powered machine while learning about pressure, water, and power. Families work together to solve science mysteries and engineering challenges. Activities are included in regular...

Cost: Adults: $14, Children 6-14: $5, Children 5 and under and Hagley Members: FREE

Where:
Hagley Museum and Library
200 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host bariatric support groups on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Medical Staff...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 302-536-5395
Contact Name: Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery
Website »

More information

An evening of entertainment and hope at the 2017 Wilmington Heart Ball. Each year, community members, medical professionals and corporate leaders come together to celebrate the lifesaving work of...

Cost:

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
815 Justison St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Join us for an unforgettable evening of entertainment and hope at the 2017 Wilmington Heart Ball.  Each year, community members, medical professionals and corporate leaders come together to...

Cost: $175

Where:
Chase Center on the Riverfront
815 Justison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: American Heart Association
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We are a mixture of some of the best and hardest working musicians in the Philadelphia area specializing in a mashup concept, fusing the music of The Allman Brothers Band and The Grateful Dead....

Cost: $10 + FEES

Where:
World Cafe Live- Wilmington
500 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE
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Mo Lowda & The Humble is a three piece Indie-rock group from Philadelphia, PA. The band has created a unique musical style combining various genre's ranging from garage rock to jazz fusion;...

Cost: $10 + FEES

Where:
World Cafe Live- Wilmington
500 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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