Ratings110 BBGood things come to those who wait. And yes, we waited ... and waited ... through the summer of 2013 as Joe and Megan Churchman meticulously restored the old South Pacific flower shop on Rehoboth Avenue, adding a huge professional kitchen to serve their fine-dining venue, Bramble & Brine. (Click here to make reservations through Open Table!) It was a massive undertaking, but it's done, and fortunate early adopters (none the least of which myself) are already reaping the rewards. Whippin' up vittles is not new to Joe Churchman. Joe cooked not only at Eden, JAM Bistro, Planet X and Venus on the Half Shell, but he also honed much of his Abruzzese culinary style at none other than Le Virtù in Philadelphia. He was also the opening chef at the now long-gone Luca in Millsboro.

Megan is the proprietor of the tiny but elegant BB outside fm right nicecrenhRFPoor Little Rich Girl store in Rehoboth Mews, and much of her taste is reflected in the restaurant'sBB 2 wine rose candleRF decor. Whimsical antiques and food-related tchotchkes are scattered throughout, and it's a rare table that isn't illuminated by a sparkling chandelier. The high-backed dining chairs suggest a dinner party in someone's home, and with the restaurant divided roughly into three separate dining areas, a comfortable sense of private conviviality makes Bramble & Brine a cozy experience.

I usually don't write about a restaurant so soon after they open, but because it's so late in the season, and because this is certainly not Churchman's first rodeo -- and because we have all waited so patiently for this to come about, I figured I'd just jump in and let the (homemade) chips fall where they may. It's not often that a restaurant of this caliber opens right smack on Rehoboth Avenue. And this one does not disappoint.

The menu is short and simple. Joe's decided dexterity with duck is legendary, and Bramble &BB 2 pump puree speckRF Brine's menu contains several shoutouts to the delectible bird. But let's remain calm and take things in order.

Without actually using the words, Joe remains true to his training by adopting the traditional "Antipasti," "Primi Piatti," "Secondi Piatti" and "Piatto Principale"- style menu layout. Bramble & Brine is, after all, not an Italian restaurant, but you can see Churchman's Le Virtù chops shining through with the anglicized "beginnings," "salads," "soup," "pasta" and "mains." Before we dive into particulars, I must warn you that, like most better restaurants nowadays here at the beach, Churchman regularly rotates menu items BB 2 ribeye crown starterRFdepending on what's growing, swimming, flying and grazing around Sussex County at any particular time of year. So don't email me next May if something with pumpkin isn't on the menu.

"Beginnings" starts off with a Savory Pumpkin and Sunchoke Paté [pictured, right]. (Note that a sunchoke is not an artichoke. It's a tuber of the sunflower plant and resembles ginger in appearance.) Crispy speck (think bacon jerky with a delightfully salty edge) adorns parmesan and thyme crostini. A little molecular gastronomy is evident in the addition of balsamic "caviar." The crostini-to-paté ratio was a little off, but our server was happy to bring more so we could shovel up every last bit of that delicious dip. I suspect that more parmesan crisps will accompany that dish in the future.

The Ribeye Crown [pictured, left] is one of the most lavish appetizers I've seen in a longBB 2 butcher plate w cannoli and puffRF time. Perfectly medium-rare sliced ribeye rests on a bed of roasted red onions and sweet corn sautée. A red wine reduction and honey vinaigrette drizzle is simply delicious. The carnivorous among us will love this one.

Things go from lavish to playful with the Butcher Plate [pictured, right]. Yes, that is a cannoli you see there on the left of the plank, and it is stuffed with a pleasantly mild foie gras mousse. Center stage is a square BB 3 cheese plateRFof chopped liver perched on a little crouton. The kicker, however, is what the chef calls "pork puffs." And yes, they are homemade chicharrones dusted with a mouthwatering combination of spices. They are simply delicious, and I think they should be an appetizer plate on their own, served with some sort of Sriracha aioli for dipping. Hint, hint. Joey, are you listening?

On the lighter side, the Cheese Board [pictured, left] is one of the most generous I've seen for the moderate $13 tariff. A brightly aromatic camembert shares a wooden plank with a hulking chunk of Stilton blue and a creamy, crumbly cheddar from Jasper Cellars. Candied walnuts and honeycombBB 2 Chstnut smoked ricotta sal w beetsRF round out this dish that's perfect for sharing.

On another visit I started with the Chestnut Smoked Ricotta Salad [pictured, right] adorned with thinly sliced beets, cukes, micro basil and a bread and butter pickle dressing that I would have happily ordered in a wine glass and sipped through one of those squiggley straws. Shirking my duties as a food writer, I had to order this one twice. I promise I will try the other two salads and add an update. But that dressing!

Both entries in the "pasta" section are equally worth trying. The first is the Shrimp Tagliatelle [pictured, left]. I include this course in the same category as the Ribeye Crown app, as either BB 2 shrimp tagliatelle fava beansRFcould qualify as a main course (though I don't know why you would ever want to do that...). Perfectly spiced and grilled shrimp march in lockstep atop a swirl of tagliatelle (wider than linguini, but not as wide as pappardelle) stirred with chunky favas, cherry tomatoes and red pearls. Red pepper flakes sparkle both visually and on the tongue. This one's a winner. We can only hope that it stays on the menu!

The second pasta is the Duck Ragu [pictured right]. A perfectly saucy shredded duck breast mixture crowns a curly bed of fazzoletti (the flat squares are also known as "handkerchief pasta" or "pasta in the rough," because it's not formed into shapes). Anything other than thinBB 2 Duck Ragu fazzoleti and parmRF shavings of parmesan and Italian parsley would be gilding the lily. Chef Joe may be young, but he has the wisdom to leave well-enough alone. Do not miss this dish. Nuff said?

"Mains" are simple, straightforward and no-nonsense. One of the stars of that show (wouldn't you know it?) is the Roasted Duck Breast [pictured, left]. Tender slices of the fortunate bird are rubbed with coriander, orange, lavender and thyme. They alternate with a crispy-on-the-outside-creamy-on-the-inside potato BB 2 Duckbreastwlavorng thymcorianderRFlatke. Long-stemmed heirloom carrots stand tall, proud and caramelized in a carrot puree. The whole production basks in a lake of bracingly sweet/sour agrodolce. Like duck? You'll love this. Try as I might, I have nothing bad to say about it.

The Grilled Ribeye platter [pictured, right] is almost a 100% success. The salt-aged steak is perfect and must be eaten medium rare to take full advantage of the marbling. I thought IBB 3 ribeyeRF was cutting into a filet. Sauteed spinach was a nicely acidic foil for the meat, but the tallegio twice-baked potato is a disappointment. Rather than a potato skin refilled with cheesy potato filling and perhaps lightly browned under a Salamander, the potato was halved, mostly intact and somewhat dry except for a narrow channel that contained what might have been tallegio cheese. But there is so little of it that I couldn't taste anything. It might as well have been a baked potato cut in half.BB 2 pork chop w hominyRF

 

UPDATE! Well, this article isn't even a week old and I already have an update. The twice-baked potato I whined about in the previous couple of sentences has been fixed. Apparently on the night I visited (they had only been open for a couple of days -- see why I usually don't review so soon?) one of the cooks was preparing the dish incorrectly. The correct preparation now promises to be perfect. We'll keep you posted! Now back to business:

 

One of the nicest food photos I've taken is that of the Bone-In Berkshire Pork Chop [pictured, left]. I would love to take credit, but credit must go to the dish itself. It is visually stunning, with the brown sugar and spice-brined chop lounging comfortably on an autumnal bed of sautéed hominy. A madeira reduction is drizzled about and the chop was crowned with a crispy herb salad. The meat is properly medium in the center, but seared on the outside like pork should be. Hominy, yet. Who wooda thought!?!

This is Delaware. Chickens are everywhere, and one of the places you want to encounter one is at Bramble and Brine. The Spring Chicken platter [pictured, right] is simple andBB 3 spring chixRF honest. The skin is properly tight, crispy and studded with spices and a hint of pepper. The accompaniments kick this one up to feast status: cornbread gnocchi, green bean almondine and roasted beets. A BBQ & thyme vinaigrette works delightfully with a homemade ketchup that whispers of clove and allspice. Not sure they are actually in there, but I definitely heard it whisper. Of course it could have been that second Kettle & tonic with lime.

I don't usually spend much time on desserts, but I have to mention one major standout: The Mexican Hot Chocolate and Churro combo [pictured, left]. They might taste like churros (all BB 2 mex choc w cinn churrosRFcinnamony and sweet), but they are cleverly disguised as little funnel cakes! There is certainly enough to share, and the dark, chocolatey taste will stay with you. I guess this is another must-get.

The southwest front corner of the restored cottage is home to a bar of white marble. Adjacent to that is a solid chunk of what appears to be cypress spanning the entire length of the front window. Seating at the window is prime real estate. That candle-strewn chandeliered bar + counter corner is presided over by none other than barkeep-in-residence Rob Bagley. Locals will recognize Rob as the son of localBB 3 Rob at barRF baker extraordinaire Nancy Stout. In her words, he’s her “number one son.” (By the way, the magic that Nancy works with specialty cakes at Rehoboth’s Giant bakery is the stuff of legend. Go early and ask for her by name. She'll take care of you!)

There are lots of little touches at Bramble and Brine that I will not reveal. I have to leave something to surprise you! (Hint: DO order coffee after your meal. Trust me.)

Bramble & Brine is at 315 Rehoboth Avenue, on the north side of the 4th block, just a few doors west of the Hotel BB 2 shot into back w stglassRFRehoboth. Hours are still a bit up in the air, but word around the place is that a 6:00 opening will soon be replaced with a 4:30 - 6 happy hour with dinner thereafter. They don't yet have a website with a menu and all that, but you can click here to visit the Facebook page.

I strongly suggest you call first during this formative time. (302) 227-7702 (locals -- recognize that number?). Tuesdays will probably be the off-season dark day. But again, y'never know, so call. Reservations are not only accepted, but they are encouraged, and can be made through OpenTable.com directly from the latest update of the definitive travel app, Rehoboth In My Pocket. BB 3 kitchenRF(D., Bar). Price range: Expensive -.BB 2 yelo cake brrycoulis cr anglaise wlnut gelatoRF

 

Comments 

 
+1 # Bonnie Cullen 2013-10-15 08:12
Bramble & Brine deserves this high praise of The Foodie . I love the atmosphere and felt like I was at home . I had the pork chop and still dream about how good it was . All the dishes look like art . I can tell it will be one of our favorite stops in Rehoboth .
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
+1 # patrick corbett 2013-10-16 19:08
we too lucked out and grabbed a table there opening night.
rehoboth FINE DINING has taken a step up the culinary ladder. we have enjoyed joe's kitchen magic at most of his stops but this is his crowning glory. the big difference this time around is his supporting cast...notably megan & howard. megan is a delight and she REALLY knows her wine. l wisely took her suggestion and had a magnificent bottle of wine. howard is the maitre'd who not only introduced himself with a handshake but checked on our table twice as did megan. l felt as if l was having dinner at a good friends house...the ultimate compliment !!!!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
+1 # T&T 2013-10-16 19:30
My wife and I have been following the B&B news on this website and dropped in on Sunday night after reading that they were open. In fact, we spied the Foodie at the front counter by the bar enjoying the RibEye Steak. So I ordered that and my wife had the duck ragout. Both were perfect.
The foodie is right-on about this place, and it's nice to see this talented chef finally in his own habitat. Both the English maitre'D and megan C. were delightful.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
+1 # Pam Glick 2013-10-22 20:49
My absolute favorite, hands down, restaurant. It's completely charming, elegant, and comfortable. Megan somehow found time to chat, even though the place was crowded (on a Tuesday night off-season!), and was truly delightful, as was our server Susan. Every bite of my shrimp/pasta dish was wonderful, and my husband's pork chop was huge, cooked perfectly and tasted better than any he's ever had. Our friends also enjoyed everything they ate, and we can't wait to go back and do it again! The Foodie pegged this one just right!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
0 # Beth Pile 2013-11-05 17:46
I had the pleasure of dining at this restaurant last weekend, being treated for my birthday by friends who had dined there earlier. What a perfect evening from the moment we arrived! We were warmly greeted and led to a table with balloons celebrating the special occasion. I loved the ambience, which had just the right balance of being quiet enough to talk but still had energy. As for the food, wow!!! My tastebuds danced with delight over the creations we dined on, including the prime rib crown, roasted tomato soup, butcher's plate, rabbit, halibut, ribeye platter, deconstructed apple pie, and Mexican hot chocolate with churro. All three of us agreed we would order each of these yummy items again. Not only was each of the dishes delicious, they were presented with such artistry. Megan added to the experience with making a wonderful wine recommendation. Bravo and thanks to all at Bramble and Brine who have created my new favorite DE restaurant!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
+3 # CSBE 2013-11-23 07:12
Awesome experience. The atmosphere, the classic cocktail menu, the friendly and attentive staff, and the creative and perfectly executed menu... the whole package - simply excellent! No question this place will succeed. The place was packed on a Friday night, to the point that some walk-ins were even turned away… and even while that busy the service was seamless. Impressive especially since they just opened a month or so ago. Loved their old-fashioned with house infused bourbon, the potato-leek soup was silky smooth with a nice fried leek garnish, the rib-eye cap (aka deckle steak) appetizer was insanely good, the duck breast has a delicious spice rub that was very unique, and the rabbit loin was super tender and quite tasty. And the mexican chocolate dessert was great too! Can't go wrong here… a great addition to the Rehoboth dining scene.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
+1 # Fay Jacobs 2013-12-23 15:22
Romantic, classy and divine food. We loved our visit and cannot wait for a return visit. With so many establishments featuring fine dining in a contemporary atmosphere, I loved the old world ambiance of Bramble & Brine.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
+1 # Bob Cartwright 2014-01-11 08:53
A five star dining experience. Two thumbs up. They hit the mark dead on. No doubt a Rehoboth Crown Jewel in dining has just been unveiled!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
+1 # Loretta 2014-02-06 17:00
We have eaten here twice and found it exceptional. If you don't normally order dessert, please make an exception when you dine here-you won't regret it.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
0 # tom schwab 2014-02-25 15:38
Wonderful dining experience Friday 21,2014. Very romantic decor. Duck and scallop entrees done with perfection. Chef's entree's complimentary combinations suburb! Service was fantastic (multiple people involved). Dessert inspired. (Do not skip). Very highly recommend! They do take reservations.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
0 # Dennis Crowley 2014-04-01 06:27
I had the good fortune of dining at Bramble and Brine last night with a friend. I have to agree with the Foodie's assessment of this restaurant. What a wonderful experience. The atmosphere is pleasant and comfortable. The staff is welcoming and very knowledgeable about the menu's offerings. The food tantalized both in visual presentation and in taste. My rib-eye steak portion was generous and, while I shouldn't have, it tasted so wonderful that I ate the whole thing. It is a tad pricey, but the food is well worth the fare. My one criticism is that I found the prices for alcoholic beverages rather expensive. 12 year Glenfiddich was $16 a glass for a rather average pour.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
0 # S. Davis 2014-04-01 09:29
We recently ate at Bramble and Brine at the recommendation of many friends who loved it. I had to say that the although the food had good flavor, our meals were both cold. The table next to ours complained that their food was cold. Also, I thought the portions were quite small for the amount of money that was charged. It is a small place, so the noise level was high. The owner did give us a free dessert because of our cold fold complaint. The service was very good. We are not sure that we will go back there anytime soon. Was a little disappointed.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 
 
-1 # Bourne Garner 2014-04-14 13:08
Two of us dined at Bramble and Brine on Sat. Apr.12. It was very busy and the tables are crowded together. The martini was good but served in what seemed to be a saucer champagne or dessert stem. My first course was the baked atrichoke which was way over-done and mushy. I ordered the "saddle of rabbit" wrapped with procuito served with polenta and brussel sprouts. The "rabbit" was the shape and size of a hotdog and was over-done, dry and tasteless. My companion fared a little better with the roasted chicken that was OK but not outstanding as expected. The evening was planned with great expecations that were not nearly met. I will not suggest that anyone eat there until improvement is reached.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
 

Add comment

Keep your comments specific. Negative comments posted a day or two after a restaurant opens, or non-specific outbursts like "Bad food!" and "Don't eat there!" with no further explanation will not be accepted. We reserve the right to edit for any reason.
All submissions become the property of RehobothFoodie.com.
By the way, it's pretty obvious when a comment is posted by an owner, a disgruntled former employee, or somebody closely related to a restaurant. Some we may still post, some not.
Thanks for being a part of RehobothFoodie.com.
DON'T FORGET TO COPY THE CASE-SENSITIVE ANTI-SPAM LETTERS/NUMBERS AT THE BOTTOM BEFORE SENDING!


Security code
Refresh

Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner

Please support our advertisers who help to make this website possible--and tell them you saw them on RehobothFoodie.com!
In order to maintain our objectivity, RehobothFoodie.com does not accept ads from restaurants.

All photographs/images are ©RehobothFoodie.com unless otherwise indicated
and may not be copied or reproduced without permission.