REHOBOTH BEACH, DEL.
The pub culture of England gave birth to the gastropub, a step up on the food scale from the neighborhood pub. There, it means raising the bar from bangers and mash. Here, it means stepping up our game from the boring burger.
For Rehoboth Beach, the gastropub means The Pickled Pig Pub on Route 1. The offspring off The Pig & The Fish, The Pickled Pig is situated in the heart of the outlets between Rehoboth and Lewes. Like The P&F, The Pickled PIg has a rather eclectic food and beer menu. Unlike The P&F, The Pickled Pig has quite a bit of seating and is not wedged into a house along Rehoboth Avenue near the Boardwalk.
There are some repeat items on the menus. Both restaurants feature a cheeseboard allowing diners to choose from 15 goat’s or cow’s milk cheeses. Fish tacos appear, as do fish and chips and mussels. Prince Edward Island mussels are steamed in a Thai brown sauce, red fra diavolo or mustard-beer broth and served with a demi-baguette. The dozen or so mussels can swimming in brown whole grain mustard, Allagash beer and bacon. They were good. Not the best mussels I’ve ever had, but still good.
Yeah, the PB&J Burger.
Ordered medium-rare, the half-pound burger was topped with aged cheddar, bacon peanut butter and strawberry-jalepeño jam. I’ve seen variations of this burger at other restaurants but the bacon swung me into ordering on this evening.
It’s worth nothing that the bacon is hardly noticeable in the peanut butter, but the combination of rich, fatty beef and the creamy nut butter was surprisingly good. On the back end, providing a sweet kick not unlike Thai sweet chili sauce, was the strawberry-jalepeño jam. It was, and I don’t offer this statement lightly, one of the most complete hamburgers I’ve ever had, from texture to taste.
The Wife went with a pretzel turkey sandwich, which featured shaved turkey and cranberry cream cheese on a pretzel roll. While not a big fan of cranberry, she found it to provide a sweet balance to the salty homemade pretzel and the savory turkey.
If there was a standout on our table, it came a couple of seats down from our friend Julie. She ordered a side of bacon blue cheese mashed potatoes to go with her mussels. I’m not sure I have ever had a flavor combination quite like that before. Creamy, salty and starchy, these may be recreated at Al Dente HQ at a later date.
Enhancing the dinner was a selection of 15 draught beers, with a number from around the DelMarVA.
The Pickled Pig is part of a neat food culture in Rehoboth Beach that I am discovering little by little, year by year. It’s a little out of the way, but well worth the drive.
The Pickled Pig Pub is located at 18756 Coastal Hwy. in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Reservations are not accepted. Dinner and drinks for two was $53.90.