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Crabby Dick’s
18831 Coastal Highway
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971-6153
(302) 645-9132

{Google Maps | Website}‎

Maryland is known for crabs.  To eat Maryland fresh cracked crab or crabcakes is to taste crab as it was intended to taste.  It’s known nationwide like Maine Lobster, Texas beef, & Berkshire pork (which originated from England, not the Berkshire Mountains – but work with me here!)  A few miles north, however lies a small state (the first, in fact) that tends to be overlooked for its pristine beaches, lively boardwalks, and towns like Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, and Bethany Beach, which contain a plethora of fresh seafood restaurants like Crabby Dick’s.

My in-laws told us we’d probably think it’s too touristy – and touristy it is.  You walk in to an enormous gift shop filled with crab inspired t-shirts, wall hangings, mugs, magnets, caps, and towels, etc – some with the Crabby Dick’s logo, some with the girl version (Anita Dick), and others that plainly ask, “Got Crabs…?”  The crab fan that I am I was tempted to buy one of everything, and may have followed through had my more sensible half not looked at me as if to say, “why do we need crab salt & pepper shakers?”  It was decided that some photos, plus a crabby meal would be enough.

Sitting down to eat in a restaurant like Crabby Dick’s you expect a decent meal – at least something freshly caught with mediocre sides, and some cold beer.  What we got, however was a fantastic meal – big, meaty, sweet, fresh crab legs dipped in the most perfect clarified butter, and washed down with ice cold Shock Top beer.  Even the starter Crab Balls – mini crab cakes, and Corn Balls – mini, creamy corn fritters blew me away.  And the oysters?  Don’t get me started.  Fresh, meaty, briny, plump, perfectly cold…I love oysters!  Plus, they start you out with a basket of Old Bay seasoned popcorn.  I love Old Bay too!!  There were six of us at the table, and each of us was happy…no, ecstatic over our meals.  One person ordered a combo pot of crab legs and shrimp, and couldn’t finish her shrimp, so guess who did…me!  And the shrimp were awesome – lightly dusted in Old Bay, perfectly sweet with a bit of a snap – the way shrimp should be.

We opted against dessert even though the gigantic brownie with whipped cream tower that the three cougars at the neighboring table had looked delicious, and they do serve key lime pie, we were all just stuffed to the gills.

It may be in my best interest on my next trip to Lewes to seek out a place more off the main drag, but I would go back to Crabby Dick’s in a heartbeat…and I’d buy the salt & pepper shakers too!

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Crabby Dick’s can also be enjoyed at:
30 Clinton Street
Fort Delaware
Delaware City, DE
302-832-5100

&
PORT TOBACCO MARINA
7536 Shirley Blvd
Port Tobacco, MD
301-392-0007

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Linger Cafe & Lounge
533 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217-1913
(347) 689-4813

{Google Maps | Website}

Jessica Pichardo runs from the backyard space of Linger Café & Lounge, her restaurant on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn where she’s chatting up a group of people to say hello to me.  She seems a bit frazzled – the polar opposite of the mood in the restaurant which is more laid back and calm.  But such is life when you run a café in a booming neighborhood; working six long days per week.  But she’s in great spirits, and is genuinely happy with her life since opening the doors of Linger almost one year ago. 

In fact, the actual anniversary is Monday, July 19th.  On Saturday the 17th though they’ll be throwing their one year anniversary bash complete with a live DJ & Break Dancing, art by Chris Mendoza and other local artists partnering up with kids art program for disadvantaged youth, and food & drink specials from 8:00 PM until midnight.  A portion of the evening’s proceeds will even be donated to local arts youth programs.

While this may appear ambitious for a local café, the food and fan base speak for themselves.  Jessica opens the restaurant six days a week starting with breakfast all the way through dinner, and beyond.  Ambition is the name of the game if you want to survive in this fickle market.  She even plays into our community’s obsession with outdoor activities with a film series beginning this month that will be held in the backyard through the summer, and will eventually move indoors.  Films will range from experimental, indie, foreign, horror classics, and cult classics.

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Jessica was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy day to answer some pressing questions I had about the restaurant, the one year anniversary, and the surrounding Boerum Hill neighborhood:

What is the concept behind Linger Café & Lounge?
I wanted a nice cross between very sexy parlor living room and modern with the intention of having people seek us out as a respite from the everyday.  You can come in any time of day and just stay for a little while or stay & LingerWe serve food all day; local wine & beer, and homemade baked goods.  It’s just sort of a neighborhood, cozy spot.

What does the cuisine center around?
It’s a mix, really.  We do anything from a really simple sandwich such as our homemade chicken pesto with local free-range chicken.  On the weekends we do a full brunch with poached eggs over shrimp saffron risotto, or French toast that we soak in cream overnight, and serve it with brown sugar, figs, & apples.  Our menu changes a lot.  We have a core offerings, but we like to play around with the rest of it based on what our customers like & don’t like.  It’s important to keep it interesting.

Are you open for weekday breakfast too?
We actually have found that serving breakfast all day works very well for us.  You’d be surprised how many people come in here ordering the Florentine Wrap or French toast at 5:00 in the afternoon.

And you also feature live music?
One of the major things that we’re looking into is making Linger into sort of a community gathering spot, and centering it around art & music.  Every month or so we rotate the art on our walls to feature local Brooklyn artists, and we also have live music a couple days a week usually during brunch.  We’re starting to also have music in the evenings now that the weather is getting warmer.  And it’s also supporting all Brooklyn talent.

Who is your customer?
We are lucky in that we are getting a really wide range of the market.  We have everyone from freelance professionals that live in the area; regulars who stop in for their morning coffee or people who count on us for their weekend brunch. We also have a lot of young couples with kids coming in.  They enjoy the backyard now that the weather is warmer.

What do you see happening in this part of Brooklyn right now and going forward?
 I see a lot of development – more & more people moving to the area.  It’s such a great central location.  We’re on the cusp of a lot of different neighborhoods (Boerum Hill/Fort Greene/Clinton Hill/Downtown Brooklyn/Park Slope) within walking distance.  It’s definitely an up and coming area especially with the Atlantic Yards project happening.  I expect a lot more hustle & bustle over the next few years.  I’m excited about being one of the pioneers in this neighborhood, and one of the things that’s important to me is staying true to that mom & pop, small business sort of mentality regardless of how developed the area may become.

What is your culinary background and inspiration for starting Linger?
As a little girl my grandmother would have me clean shrimp to help her get dinner on the table.  It was a real beautiful bonding experience.  I think food is one of the simplest ways that you can touch people and force them to stop for a second and enjoy something simple.  I’ve always been really comfortable in the kitchen.  I waited tables from the time I was 15 years old, so I’ve always been in the (restaurant) industry.  I always thought that I would open up a restaurant later on in life, but after getting laid off from the Banking industry in 2008 I decided to take the plunge sooner.  I hadn’t been very happy the last few years prior, so this was my chance to really do what I wanted.  It’s been a really satisfying labor of love.

What are some of your customers’ favorite dishes?
The pesto chicken sandwich is easily a favorite.  We use local chicken, homemade pesto, and fresh mozzarella.  Brunch is also big for us – we play around a lot with our poached egg dishes sometimes over a crayfish or shrimp risotto, or sometimes mushrooms cooked down with cream & herbs.  I’m actually making a homemade hash with fried eggs for tomorrow.

Where do you see all of this over the next few years?
We’re approaching our one year anniversary in July, and we’re at the point where we’re figuring out what works and what doesn’t, focusing on tightening up the menu, and getting a positive buzz out there.  I definitely want to be the to-go place for good food and a really relaxed environment.  We’re finding the space being used more & more for private parties which is nice because it supports a sort of familiar, cozy. If I can open up the space for a group of 30 people and really make something memorable for them, I think it’s a nice way ot leave an impression on the community.  More importantly – longer term I really want to see this be a sort of focal point for art & music in the neighborhood.  We’re working a lot with local music – we’re actually starting with The Classical Revolution and their New York City following.  They’re a large group known in San Francisco; classically trained musicians – it’s like a jam session of chamber music.  We were featured in Time Out New Yorka couple of weeks ago – there was a piece on us with The Classical Revolution.  Mostly I want to help people take some time out; smell the roses and enjoy an hour.  It makes all the difference in your quality of life.

Linger Cafe & Lounge is open Tuesday-Thursday, 10AM – 10PM, Friday-Saturday, 10AM – 11PM, and Sunday from 10AM – 6PM.

Casimir Restaurant
103 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009
(212) 358-9683‎

{Google Maps | Website}

The East Village of New York City is often an enigma to me.  It’s far enough off the subway lines to be secluded enough to house a number of what we like to call “hidden gems” – more so than other out of the way locales like the Upper East Side.  Ten years ago the East Village was just turning from the gritty birthplace of punk rock to a hip, trendy neighborhood, and at the same time Casimir was opening its doors for the first time. 

As the resident French restaurant early on in the emerging East Village scene, owner/host Guillaume Blestel has carefully created a dining experience reminiscent of the off-the-beaten-path, family-run bistros that dot Paris’ back alleys.  Blestel, who also owns Zebulon, a café and performance space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, turned to executive chef Blair Hanelt to create a menu of classics and new dishes with a decidedly French feel.  You’ll remember why you loved French Onion Soup after tasting Casimir’s version, with each spoonful featuring a harmonizing soup to bread to cheese ratio.  Salads are also a great way to start your meal with refreshing offerings that range from the simple (Mixed Greens) to Gallic-inspired delights such as the new DaBarry (fennel, radicchio, mesclun, asparagus, green beans and truffle oil dressing), or favorites like the Rambuteau (sautéed chicken liver and sweet shallots over greens), Escartefigue (marinated goat cheese, eggplant caviar, red pepper confit) and Carpaccio (raw beef tenderloin with parmesan, virgin olive oil and arugula).  You can make a meal out of the restaurant’s Paysan Bites, including Casimir Country Pate, Escargots Provencal and Smoked Herring or Grilled Garlic Sausage, both served with warm potato salad.

Tonight my wife & I opted for some traditional dishes.  She started with the Escartefigue salad with marinated goat cheese, eggplant caviar, and red pepper confit for $9, then moved on to the Pan Seared Grouper With A Tomato Saffron Broth, Zucchini, Carrots & Asparagus for $18.  The Grouper was actually a substitute for Striped Bass.  An inferior substitute?  Hardly.  The grouper was flaky and delicious, and perfectly cooked.  “I love the broth,” she declared.

Steak Tartare

I started with a glass of white Cote Du Rhone which if you’ve never tried it, tastes light & citrusy, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc but with more bite.  Much richer.  Fantastic!  I started with a traditional Nicoise Salad with tuna – a special on tonight’s menu, and special indeed.  Entrees at Casimir all look delicious on paper, except to my wife.  The thought of Steak Tartare made her ill, but when the waitress recommended it to me, I couldn’t resist.  It was served with fries and greens for $18.  It was perfectly uncooked – slightly spicy, fresh, and creamy.  The wife even tried a bite – and liked it!

Other entrees include Filet Mignon (with black pepper cognac sauce), Steak Frites and Steamed Mussels in white wine.  A decadent Terrine de Foie Gras (with croutons and frisee) is a great take on a French delicacy.  There’s also Murray, a brand new chicken dish (organic free-range honey glazed Moroccan spiced chicken with apricot–olive relish and couscous), Duck Confit (with garlic roasted potatoes and frisee) and “La Frioule, Casimir’s rich fish bouillabaisse.  Penne de Jardin (with seasonal vegetables and truffle oil) and Vegetable Couscous (with baby vegetables and harissa) are great options for those seeking meat-free dining. 

For dessert we ordered the Assiette de Fromage (with apples, grapes and nuts) for $12, and Espresso with Pistacio Ice Cream $4.  Both are outstanding, and I highly recommend either.  Other desserts include Profiteroles and Vanilla Crème Brulee, and  Iles Flottantes, literally ‘Floating Islands,’ an offering of creamy custard topped with poached meringue—the perfect way to end a meal.

Casimir’s eclectic collection of French red, white and rose wines, as well as champagne, beer, and spirits including Pastis, Cognacs, Single-Malt Scotch and Grappa, serve as great accompaniments to any meal.  The restaurant also features a creative cocktail list including Le Zebulon (rum, ginger, lime, nutmeg), Le Casablanca (Malibu, OJ, 7UP) and Le Pollux (Stoli Vanilla, Cointreau, Pineapple) and the new Hippolyte (gin, Cointreau, ginger, lime)

Casimir also serves lunch daily, and a weekend brunch.  The $9.95 Brunch Special features entrees such as Brioche French Toast (served with fresh fruit, syrup and sweetened cream), Croque Monsieur or Madame (served with mixed greens) and Tunisian Eggs (3 eggs baked in terra cotta with spicy tomato and feta).  Their a la carte brunch menu features favorites from their dinner menu suitable for afternoon eating, such as Black Boudin Sausage (with apples and mashed potatoes), Hamburger New Orleans (with tartar sauce and bacon) and the popular La Velodrome salad with arugula, parmesan and roasted garlic croutons.

Casimir is open for dinner from 5:30 pm to 12:00 am Sunday through Thursday and from 5:30 pm to 1:00 am Friday and Saturday.  Weekend brunch runs from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.  American Express and cash are accepted.  For more information, visit www.casimirrestaurant.com and become a fan on Facebook.

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Carmen’s Seafood Restaurant
343 43rd Street (& Bay)
Sea Isle City, NJ 08243
(609) 263-3471‎
{
Google Maps}

Call me crazy, but when I go away for a weekend at the beach I want the total treatment.  This should include warm sunny days, swimming in the ocean, afternoon naps, sandwiches on the beach, beer and summer cocktails, BBQ, and of course fresh seafood. 

For this past Memorial Day Weekend the wife and I went with some friends to a house in Ocean City, NJ on the famed Jersey Shore.  Everything about the weekend delivered as expected, but only one aspect went beyone my expectations.  That was Carmen’s Seafood Restaurant.  We’re all in our late 20’s and 30’s – the crowds at the clubs are not for us.  We chose to spend our Saturday night having a late dinner of shellfish, and other good beach town stuff.

Toasting Oysters

Carmen’s is BYOB – bring your own beer (or wine). The menu is ample with plenty of shellfish and regular fish options, fried, grilled, and steamed, raw selections, and other non-seafood options. I started with an order of raw oysters which I split with two friends.  They were big, cold, briny, and meaty.  There was a slight chewiness to them – yes, I chew my oysters.  Look, if you’re one of those people who likes to slather on the cocktail sauce, and swallow without even tasting the slimy little sucker, that’s your prerogative.  I do not advocate such behavior.  I like to taste my food.

Anyway, for an entree I ordered the whole crabs.  My wife, who is normally picky and orders fried shrimp got the peel-and-eat shrimp instead…on my suggestion…because fried shrimp is a snack along with fried clam strips, and you get them at the beach snack bar.

The crabs were big & meaty.  My wife had a little trouble peeling her shrimp – lack of experience, probably.  I tasted them, and they were pretty good.  My meal came with cole slaw and a potato, but I barely touched them.  I was in the zone – the crabs and beer zone, that is. 

Carmen’s is BYOB, so we brought a case of Bud Light Golden Wheat – which, if you’ve never tried it is actually really good beer…ok, pretty good beer.  I like it.

There wasn’t really anything about Carmen’s that I didn’t enjoy.  The service was great, the view is spectacular, the food is fresh and delicious, the decor is fun, & the atmosphere is relaxed.  It’s hard to ask for much more from a summer seafood restaurant.

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