REHOBOTH BEACH, DELAWARE
The restaurant haunted us last year. We tried to order takeout from their — wait for it — takeout menu, only to be told that they no longer did takeout. Sigh. Getting 13 people on the same page for takeout is difficult enough. Doing it twice is just cruel. We decided to visit this year and check whether their sit-down menu actually offered food.
The Pig + Fish started as a restaurant owned by a husband and wife team and has since grown into a pair of storefronts — The Pickled Pig is located on the Coastal Highway near the outlets in Rehoboth Beach — that are now owned by a different couple. Located where Christian Street spurs from Rehoboth Avenue, The Pig & Fish takes reservations on weeknights before 6 p.m. This is good for a group of nine adults, two children and two toddlers in need of high chairs. And, it is very kid friendly.
We arrived a little early and were seated in the back dining room. A converted house, the restaurant has two dining rooms in the back, joined by a hallway to the front of the house, where a large bar and smattering of tables reside.
The Pig + Fish have dual significance: a menu with a balance of barbecue and seafood, and a catchy slogan — eat like a pig, drink like a fish. It works, in part because of it collection of a dozen draught beers, as many bottles, and a short, but diverse, selection of wines. Four beers are always on tap, while a selection of 15 more rotate to fill out the beer menu.
Back to the eat like a pig part. The oversized document features entrees and sandwiches down the middle, while two boundary columns list appetizers, pizzas and cheese plates. The menu transcends mere pulled pork and fish and chips. The pork sandwich is served with Asian slaw and a Thai sweet chili barbecue sauce. The fish and chips featured fresh grouper deep-fried tempura-style. Even the hamburger had a gourmet touch.
My half-pound burger, ordered medium-rare, came with a generous helping of applewood-smoked bacon, gouda cheese, caramelized onions, and a horseradish-chive sauce. The burger was a little more than the roll could handle, quickly turning into a fork-and-knifer, but it was one of the finer restaurant hamburgers I have had in a long time. The meat was cooked perfectly and the flavors all balanced nicely. Nothing was there as filler. The fries were ordinary, but the coleslaw was homemade and quite good.
The Wife’s medium version of the burger was equally as good.
Holly, one of our vacation companions, had the crabcake and said that it was very good. She said that the two cakes were loaded with crab and lacked the overabundance of breadcrumb filler that overwhelms many restaurant versions of the dish. Brian, Al Dente’s Farmington, N.Y. bureau chief, said that his scallop pasta — a blend of pan-seared scallops and blue crab and cheese ravioli in a asparagus, spinach, sundried tomato and squash cream sauce — was one of the best pasta dishes he has ever eaten.
The appetizers were also well received. The applewood bacon crab dip overflowed from its bread bowl, loaded with crab, cheddar, and bacon. If there was an opportunity to lick the plate, I would have. The Wife split a cheese plate — two cheeses, one meat and crostata — with another friend, mixing a goat-milk gouda and cow-milk German cambozola with sopressata. They both approved.
A kid’s menu includes cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, a kid-sized steak and homemade macaroni and cheese.
The menu was complicated, but unlike Finbar’s, the kitchen was up to the task and able to move from hamburgers to crab cakes to steaks with ease. The wait staff was attentive, never letting a beer glass or water cup run dry. The applied 20 percent gratuity was well worth the attention our group demanded.
And the food…the food was well worth the wait encountered by walk-up patrons standing around the bar or outside as we exited.
The Pig + Fish is located at 236 Rehoboth Ave. in Rehoboth Beach, Del., near the M&T Bank at the Christian Street spur. Parking is on-street. Reservations are available on weeknights before 6 p.m.