by Tim Ebner
Memorial Day weekend marks the start to summer, and hopefully it means that you’re heading to the beach soon. In last year’s Edible DC has spent a lot of time in one beach town, Rehoboth, Delaware. In our fall Issue last year, we even mapped out several dining destinations in this food-rich beach resort.
But, there’s a new seafood restaurant in Rehoboth that demands your attention, and it comes from Sam Calagione, a guy more commonly known for beer. This March, Dogfish Head Brewery opened a restaurant adjacent to its brewpub called Chesapeake & Maine.
The menu was inspired by the summers Dogfish founder Sam Calagione spent in Maine, as well as his connection to Delaware shore, where he now lives. Everything on the menu is sourced from either the Chesapeake or New England region, including the dessert — the Smith Island Cake after all comes from Smith Island, Maryland.
For seafood lovers, this restaurant is required eating even if you’re just in town for a short weekend. Look no further than the ‘seacuterie’ platter, a playful take off a meat board, but instead of a carnivores delight, this plate has three seafood options: a lobster sausage, smoked bluefish pate, and crab cake scotch egg. The final of the three is the showstopper. Once you slice into the crispy crab cake, it oozes with a runny egg yolk that doubles as a dipping sauce for the plate.
Surprises bob up and down, across the menu. The ‘smoke in the water' oyster, which comes from a partnership with the Hooper’s Island Oyster Company, is a natural oyster with a distinctly smoky taste. To get there, the duo had to spend time raising oysters in beds of water with pounds of smoked sea salt added. It’s a fleshy, raw oyster that somehow leaves remnants of smoke on the tongue, leaving you to wonder if the restaurant invented a new breed of oyster.
Of course beer will draw you in at Chesapeake & Maine too. “Sea Quench Ale” is on-tap exclusively here. It’s an experimental beer from Dogfish that combines three traditional German styles: Kolsch, Berliner Weisse, and Gose. The bitterness of the Gose, along with the refreshing qualities of the Kolsch and Berliner Weisse make this the perfect beer pairing for downing a dozen or so oysters. But, another big surprise are the cocktail options. Most of the drinks use an infusion of beer. Try the mezcal margarita, spiked with Dogfish’s Namaste cordial, or the strawberry basil Collins that comes with a splash of Tweason’ale.
All this is to say that Chesapeake & Maine is a fantasy of seafood delights. If the Memorial Day Beach traffic has got you down, one visit to their dining room should do the trick. The food, as well as the decor comes straight from the sea — oyster shells double as chandeliers, a giant seafood bar greets you at the door, and loose rope hangs by the bar — in case you want to try and tie a sailor's knot while waiting for your meal.
Tim Ebner is a food and travel writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor for Edible DC. Follow him on Twitter for more dining tips @TimEbner.