It’s been awhile since I was actually in Sea Colony for Spring Break, but my mom and I treated ourselves to some great meals while we were in town, so I’m still posting reviews about them. One area that we’re hardly ever in is Lewes because of how bad the parking is over the summer and how far away it is from Sea Colony. However, we were so impressed with our dinner at Espuma and Chef Caputo that we decided to make the trek over to Lewes to try one of his other restaurants, Rose & Crown. This British pub-style restaurant is completely different than the warm, Spanish-inspired Espuma, but I was no less excited to give it a go because I am a food lover of all types of cuisine.
Since we went out on a Friday night, the restaurant was a lot busier than Espuma was, but still much emptier than any given day during the hot summer season. When we first walked in and were seated, our incredibly bubbly waitress greeted us right away and took our drink orders. I opted for the Pomegranate Spice while my mom decided to go for the English Harvest. After about fifteen minutes of waiting, our drinks finally showed up; however, we both preferred our cocktails at Espuma.
My cocktail was a mix of spiced rum, pomegranate, warm spices, and ginger ale. It was okay, but didn’t pack the flavor punch I was hoping for when I looked at the ingredients list. My mom had picked her drink because it consisted of Smirnoff pear, frangelico, apple cider, and a cinnamon rim, and she’s a sucker for anything that resembles an appletini. She also thought hers was just okay though and preferred the twist on the appletini that she received at Espuma over this one. Since neither of us were thrilled with our first drinks, we both eventually switched over to wine and were more pleased with those picks.
The time we spent waiting for the drinks to show up gave me a lot of time to take in the interior of the restaurant. Although my cocktail didn’t live up to the one at Chef Caputo’s other restaurant, I did prefer the look of Rose & Crown. With red brick walls and warm wooden tables decorated with glasses filled with rose petals and water, this ambiance appealed to me more than Espuma and seemed a lot more inviting. I completely enjoyed the fine dining element of Espuma, but I am much more of a fan of fine dining food with a more inventive atmosphere, something that I think a lot of new restaurants are striving for in Philly now.
After trying out our drinks, we decided to start our meal off with several appetizers. The two we unanimously decided on were the Hefeweizen Hummus and the Parmesan & Garlic Chips. Thankfully, our food came out faster than our drinks did and while I’m still trying to understand why a British restaurant would have hummus on the menu, I was very pleased with our choices. The hummus was flavorful, but light, and came with a whole mix of colorful veggies, including the tart pickled red onions that contrasted the flavors of the silky, creamy hummus well. The chips were also a good pick because they were hand-cut, fresh, and enhanced by the Parmesan and garlic that was sprinkled throughout the basket. Both of these choices were a nice way to be introduced to the food here and made up a bit for our lackluster cocktails.
While these appetizers were both well executed and filling, there was one more that we ordered. If there is one appetizer that I can easily devour all by myself, it is deviled eggs, so when I saw Crab Deviled Eggs on the menu here, I ordered them without a second’s hesitation. Although I was really excited to try them, this was one great idea that fell victim to over planning. There were just too many distinct, powerful flavors on the dish for this to be a cohesive plate. One of the worst elements was the orange, which, unfortunately, was enough to ruin the entirety of the dish for me. The pulverized orange was so overpowering that the rest didn’t get to shine. In addition to the orange, the eggs also included crab, smoked salmon, cucumber, and parsley, which all seemed to be fighting on my palate to be a star of the dish. I think a really good deviled egg is perfect when it’s simple, so this last appetizer was a disappointing miss for me and something I would never order again.
At this point, I felt like I was on a roller coaster at Rose & Crown since the food and drinks ranged from being awful to satisfying, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered the Duck Confit Shepherds Pie. A well-known fact in my family, and probably among my blog readers at this point, is that if something has duck in it, I will order it. While I could give up chicken for the rest of my life and probably be okay, I love the juicy, strong flavors of duck that I think chicken lacks. So, of course, when I saw a favorite of mine redone with duck confit, I was wholeheartedly sold on ordering it.
As I dug in I was pleasantly surprised. This was no life changing dish, but the duck was tender, the veggies were cooked through, and Parmesan cheese that topped the mashed potatoes added some additional subtle and cheesy saltiness to my first bites, and made the crust a bit crunchier than normal. It was well executed, simple, and seemed to strive to uphold the basic tenets of British cooking. While I wasn’t blown away, I was happy with my choice and wouldn’t mind eating it a second time, and given some of my earlier disappointments, I would say that equaled a win in my book that night.
The other entree that we opted for was the “Bangers” & Mash, another classic dish that most people experience at least once in their lives. This meal came with spicy Italian sausage, potato puree, pickled onions, grain mustard, and an herb salad. Having tried the pickled onions at both Espuma and with our hummus here, my mom was pretty excited to be trying them a third time. I think that out of everything she ate while we were in Sea Colony, her favorite thing was pickled onions. She’s now going to attempt to make them on her own, and I enjoyed really their tangy quality as well. For a dish like bangers and mash, the tart quality of the pickled onions is really essential, because it takes this flavorful, yet one-note dish to a more complex, enhanced level. The grain mustard functions in much the same way, and this highlights how important a great secondary element can be to a fantastic dish. My mom was really thrilled with her final choice of the night, and it’s something that I think every British food enthusiast would be fulfilled by.
While there were some great missteps along the way, I was happy that I ended the evening on a delicious, sweet note. I tried the Butterscotch Pudding, and it was probably my favorite choice of the night. The pudding was light and smooth, but there was also a graham cracker crust which ran throughout and placed some buttery flavors into this pudding while also adding some great texture to it. I also really appreciated the bit of chocolate drizzled on top because it added some great undertones to the pudding. It would be the perfect dessert for the summertime when it’s hot and you want something sweet to lift you up a little bit. I was thrilled with choosing this dessert because it made me a little more content with a relatively lackluster meal.
My dinner at Rose & Crown was completely different than I was expecting, and I was a bit disappointed with it. Some places where this restaurant is at its strongest are with its friendly wait staff, well-thought-out interior, focused wine list, and dessert, but there are some really poor choices going on with some of the cocktails and appetizers, and the main courses aren’t ones that will stick with you. I think with a just a few changes within the menu, this fairly forgettable meal could become a much more focused, pleasing option for diners around Lewes throughout the entire year. I may stop by again one day, but as it is now, Rose & Crown is a place that I will leave for hordes of tourists who will eat at any restaurant within walking distance from their beach house.