Green Man / Jake's / Tiki Bar / Espuma
There are friends, there is an inner circle of best friends, and then there is Lola. The Town Crawler’s cater-cousin Lola (a lawyer, not a showgirl, though she is partial to feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there) breezed into Rehoboth Beach for a few days earlier this month.
Such a regular visitor from the big city is she that Mr. Town Crawler and I call our guest room “Lola’s Room” and her toothbrush lives full time right alongside ours in the bathroom we all share. We both love it when Lola’s here and the rule about food (and everything else) is simple: “Whatever Lola Wants”.
Life with Lola and me is a bit like the movie Beaches, but better: There’s no fighting over men, and we drink a whole lot more alcohol than Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey put together. And, as a bonus, neither Lola nor I are dying. But the theme remains the same: We are close. Close close. Speed through the rain to get to one another in a crisis close. 4-am phone call close.
We have traveled off the coast of Venezuela together. We have had $50 cosmopolitans at terribly chichi bars in Manhattan together. Conversely, we have had $2 tequila together – not an experience that TTC can, in good conscience, recommend. We’ve been to amazing theater together, stayed in landmark hotels, celebrated holidays, rushed to catch flights together – Lola insisting we hurry up, TTC insisting we have plenty of time. We’ve worked together. We’ve lived together. Over the years we’ve said the following to one another: My dog died. My cat died. I’m pregnant. I’m not pregnant. I’m getting married. I’m getting divorced. I’m buying the house. I’m selling the house. My mom died. I’m going to law school. I’m moving across the country. I’m moving back. I love him/her. I don’t know if I love him/her. I don’t love him/her. (I’m leaving out a lengthy list of references to conversations about SEX here – that ol’ Foodie keeps insisting this is a G-rated site. Too bad, because Lola and I have stories to tell!)
Through all of this, we have spent much time here in Rehoboth Beach doing whatever Lola wants, and when Lola comes to town she wants to eat, to drink, to go to the beach, and to talk, talk, talk. We talk about our lives, we talk about our work, we talk about what it all means: truth, goodness, the nature of the universe, the condition of being human. All of that talking requires some serious eating and drinking. The food and drink is a grand and necessary accompaniment to our talks. It is our ritual.
Some eating spots are standards. Lola is partial to Arena’s for the crab melt, especially late at night when she gets into town. It’s so handy that they serve their full menu until closing at 1 am. Then it’s off to Lori’s for her turkey sandwich (they deliver to the beach, you know – you just have to come up to the boardwalk to meet them). Then to the Blue Moon where Lola likes to socialize with TTC’s friend Rooster (he doubles as Lola’s massage therapist over at Bad Hair Day).
After a late night at the Moon, a typical day with Lola starts with a leisurely breakfast on the porch at Green Man over on Wilmington Avenue. We strongly suggest that you get there early (they open at 8) so you don’t have to wait for a table. Their menu is filled with terrifically fresh and healthy items. Lola is partial to the oatmeal – homemade, rich, thick, with a delicious consistency – and your choice of toppings. TTC favors the Crème Brule French Toast (obscene, really, and not so much on the healthy side). It is unlike any French toast TTC has ever seen or tasted [pictured, left]. To. Die. For. (Think about splitting it with a friend.)
The Vanilla Tea Latte is a Town Crawler favorite, and we both enjoy the smoothies. Try the Strawberry Seduction. Locals know that Green Man has the best smoothie in town.
After breakfast, Lola and I saunter over to the beach, stopping to pick up plenty of lemonade from Jake’s along the way (the fresh squeezed lemonade, that is). Be specific when you order: They have two kinds of lemonade, and you want the fresh squeezed and only the fresh squeezed. It’s $5 a glass and worth every penny. Not too sweet, not too sour, Lola and I always have plenty [pictured, right]. All that talking leaves us parched.
Around dinnertime, Lola and I leave the beach and stop at the Tiki Bar at the Atlantic Sands Hotel. It sits directly on the boardwalk, at ocean level, and is the perfect space to transition from beach day to night out. The Tiki Bar is very mellow, with a vast menu of drinks and snacks. (TTC is excited to try the frozen drinks later in the summer, especially one called the Mud Slide.)
Lola always has a perfect Absolut Ruby Red Vodka and tonic. David is a refreshingly honest and unpretentious young waiter there, and I understand his drag name is CeeCee. David/Cee Cee will take good care of you while you watch the sun drift below the horizon.
One night during Lola’s stay, the two of us headed over to Stingray for a light dinner. The sushi bar is a sight to behold [pictured, below right]. An otherwise lovely evening on their porch was marred by the nasty mosquitoes. Next time we will sit inside. (We must have been especially tempting to the bloodsuckers after all our sweet Tiki Bar drinks.) We shared an enormous helping of edamame with a zesty soy ginger sauce, and firecracker rolls (fresh salmon on top of a salmon and avocado roll with a hot and spicy sauce).
The night before Lola left the island (as I call in-town Rehoboth), we ventured out with Mr. Town Crawler to Espuma, where Lola had never been. It was the waning days of the local strawberry season, and strawberry everything was being featured. I jumped right in and started off with a strawberry bellini. Delicious. It’s a credit to chef and owner Jay Caputo [pictured, left] that they always come up with creative and inventive ways to use whatever is fresh from local harvests – though I’m not sure strawberries were meant to be paired with basil, as they were in one dish at Espuma.
We had a nice meal. Highlights included a tasty cucumber soup with cumin and fresh mussels, accompanied by a minty green salad kissed with strawberries and a sweet-ish vinaigrette. Mr. T.C.’s pork cheek dish was the most tender he’d ever sampled. And if there’s one thing Mr. T.C. knows, it’s pork. (Ahem.)
Lola had a delightful salmon dinner; though canned beets ruled out perfection. We also noticed that the service was a bit…overly crisp. They try very hard at Espuma – and that’s commendable, but perhaps they don’t need to try quite so hard to let us know they are trying. That said, it’s a great restaurant – one of the finest in town and perfect for special occasions.
The next morning, Lola had to return to the grind of the city. I tucked some Beach Plum jam I bought for her at the Farmers’ Market into her bag as she left. Then, truly, I cried. I’m sad every time she leaves. I can’t wait for her next visit. We already have a sushi outing planned in order to continue our sampling. We’ll also sample some of the new restaurants in town (Cypress? Cosmopolitan?), and continue our quest for the perfect seaside cocktail.
And of course, there will be Green Man breakfasts, lunches at Lori’s, lemonade from Jake’s and late nights at Arena’s, along with hours staring at the sea, pondering the meaning of life with a best friend. And, of course, “Whatever Lola Wants.”