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Rehoboth report

Gregory A | | Sep 6, 2010 08:24 PM

My bride and I (along with our 4- and 1-year-old daughters) just returned from our twice-yearly three-day-weekend at Rehoboth Beach with another couple and their almost-4-year-old daughter. Here's our humble report on a couple of local places.

The Back Porch: A number of folks steered us here. The menu had us enthused, but the execution and the attitude left us cold. You're greeted with a sign on the door that tells you the rules, including which credit cards they don't accept (no American Express), and the menu warns that the chef does not allow substitutions. They take this to its extreme. A request for some plain pasta for the little girls? No, came the response -- despite the fact that pasta was offered in several dishes on the menu. But we could order a side order of a timbale of rice for five bucks. Some prosciutto? No again, despite its presence on several dishes on the menu. (I began to think that everything was pre-packaged in a boil-in bag. Their flexibility was about the same as you'd find on an airplane's food service.) The server was completely unapologetic about that inflexibility (or the fact that they had no highchairs -- obviously, they were doing their most to be child-inhospitable.

Service like this drives me nuts. But the execution of the food we were served matched the service. The duck confit and duck breast was grey, and the breast had no sear on it, leaving the "rare" breast almost impossible to cut even with a steak knife. Prosciutto-wrapped pork loin had no flavor but the salt from the ham, and the pork was overcooked and dry. The starters -- burrata with a cured meat and pickled grapes, and a prosciutto-and-greens salad -- were the most interesting, yet even they had a "thrown together" quality to them. Especially at the Back Porch's price point, I can't imagine spending my money or time there again.

Rehoboth was redeemed the next night by Salt Air. Not only were they incredibly kid-friendly (coloring, highchairs, even books to read to antsy youngsters), but they succeeded with humility where The Back Porch only aspired with arrogance. The local pork chop was amazing -- from a rare breed raised locally with incredible flavor and marbling, to the side dishes of creamy grits, sugar and salt-cured cucumbers, wild mushrooms, succotash, and beets with charred red onions. The only false note was a too-sweet Sangria with stonefruit. THIS is a place we'll gladly spend our time and money at, and praise to as many people as we can (even at risk of having difficulty getting a table when we're back).

Back Porch Cafe
59 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

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