REHOBOTH’S OLDEST, YOUNG BUSINESS
Yes, there was a Houston-White Co. Well, there IS a Houston-White Co. and it’s a brand new, and classically designed, steakhouse on Rehoboth Avenue. But in fact, the name of the restaurant is shared with a more than 100-year old Delaware lumber mill company, technically still in business, now as the restaurant bearing its name.
As owner Megan Kee explains it, the restaurant is using her family’s century-old business license, originally written in calligraphy and having one of the lowest business license numbers in the state.
So this new steakhouse is firmly rooted in Delaware and offering a legendary steakhouse experience. And it’s really, really beautifully designed and offering exquisite dining.
The restaurant interior is forest green walls with wood trim, reminiscent of the great New York City steakhouses of my youth. The fixtures have a nautical flair, having come from an ocean liner, and the combination is stunning. It’s also intriguing that as you dine you can see into the kitchen, appointed with equipment that is as decorative as it is useful.
With a friendly welcome to all patrons and a professional waitstaff, this decidedly white-tablecloth restaurant promises—and delivers—a marvelous meal.
We began dinner by splitting a Caesar salad featuring white anchovies and a generous portion of cheese. We couldn’t believe the portions in front of us was a split until we saw a waiter pass by with a mountainous full portion.
We also sampled the short rib stroganoff, with Pennsylvania Dutch noodles and tender beef drenched in the slight sweetness of Harvey’s Bristol Cream and complemented by a variety of fresh mushrooms in the cream sauce. Delicious.
Of course, we couldn’t wait to taste a steak house entrée and chose the Prime Bone-in Filet, prepared to a perfect medium rare (warm red center) and, forgive the cliché but it was melt-in-your-mouth flawless. We had the potato skins served with horseradish cream sauce as an accompaniment—the skins were thin, crispy slices, not your usual bar-food one-eighth of a potato slab, and they were served with a creamy horseradish sauce perfect on the potatoes or the steak.
And while beef’s the steak house calling card, we heard that the cast-iron pan-fried chicken, based on an old family recipe, should be sampled as well. The Southern, shake-in-a-bag-to-coat, then lightly fried chicken harkens back to traditional Maryland-Delaware fare. The delicious entrée comes with sweet and spicy baked beans and delightfully moist cornbread.
As for beverages, our entrees were paired with two excellent red wines. I had the Decoy Cabernet, which was hearty and a great complement to the filet, while my spouse sampled the Torrebrunna Sangiovese from Tuscany—a popular wine of the region, with a tart cherry taste. Really delicious.
By this time, of course, there were doggy bags involved, as we proclaimed not to be able to have one more bite. But alas, Megan told us about the berry cheesecake. Now this New Yorker knows her cheesecake. After one forkful of the sweet, rich dessert, I proclaimed it totally authentic. Only then did I find out that the chef had a great deal of experience at one of New York’s premier cheesecake havens. Try it!
With strains of “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca softly filtering through the restaurant, plus the fine meal and lovely ambiance, it was a classic steakhouse experience. And yes, that goes for the prices as well. It’s high end and appropriately so.
This kind of classic cuisine and traditional atmosphere are the hallmarks of Megan Kee’s restaurants, Fable on Baltimore Avenue for authentic French dining and now Houston-White Co. for a faithful take on a timeless steakhouse.
With the summer crowds on their way, right now might be the perfect time to get a sneak peek at Rehoboth’s newest culinary offering with the oldest company name in town.▼