After an absence from Wilmington, Delaware of a good ten years (with only one short stop back in '99), checking out the latest restaurant scene was great fun.
First, I had heard good things about Deep Blue from someone who's dined there frequently, and I was happily surprised. The grilled octopus was tasty, and I enjoyed a pumpkin creme brulee. The main course, a black bass, was also well cooked and flavorful.
A few nights later I returned to an old favorite, Tavola Toscana (jam-packed with diners on a Tuesday evening at 7). A sister restaurant to Deep Blue, Toscana's offering of grilled octopus was less satisfying -- the fish was cut into pieces and grilled a little too long. However, one of my favorite dishes -- pumpkin ravioli in a sweet cream sauce -- was abundant, flavorful, and even functioned partly as a dessert.
Restaurant 821 on Market Street proved somewhat disappointing. I ordered Goat Cheese Truffles and received three small balls of cheese, one rolled in pepper, another in almonds, and a third plain. Nothing too difficult. However, the cheese was extremely fresh and the accompanying crostini rounds delicate and freshly flavorful.
The main course, of scallops, was a little disappointing.
All in all, a most superior experience occured at the Columbus Inn (much to my surprise). It was Sunday night and we dined in the first room with its old hardwood floor and fire going. The cold crisp salad with roquefort vinaigrette was exquisite, and the tuna over wasabi mashed potatoes (the latter wonderful) was perfect! I've never had such an excellent meal here, despite having dined over the years in this Wilmington mainstay -- the last time in 1992 and in the mid-70s.
While walking the streets of Wilmington, taking digital photos of old buildings, and researching Delaware history in the downtown library and Historical Society, I found Brew Ha-Ha's black forest ham and brie sandwich with a touch of honey mustard so delicious, I indulged on 3 consecutive days. The Hotel DuPont has recently opened a Brew Ha-Ha -- its setting bright and friendly -- and with cold days outside, their hot Chai was a perfect remedy!