Spotlight On Wheelhouse!
Our friends right across the bay at Wheelhouse in Lewes, Delaware have been on our list to visit for some time now, and we were so thrilled to get the chance to take a midweek ferry ride over to join them for lunch.
Mike Dangerfield, the Director of Operations for the restaurant group, set us up with General Manager Keely Weber, who’s the GM for both Wheelhouse and Bushels. Sales Manager Scott McIntyre and Social Media & Design Alchemist Courtney Rosenberg joined us for the adventure. We rode the ferry over with Courtney, and Scott drove out from Philly to meet us.
We checked out a few of the dishes they have to offer, as well as what you can expect when you visit. I mean, just LOOK at these photos!
“The idea behind the Wheelhouse is more of a Caribbean feel,” Keely says.
“It’s reggae, with island music, and a Caribbean flare on American food. We have jerk chicken skewers, and a jerk shrimp salad, for example,” she says.
“We do a bunch of fun tacos, like Key West Grouper, Spicy Ahi Tuna, and we also do a Barbacoa Beef taco and Ancho Chili Pulled Pork taco.”
While their seafood is amazing, one of the things they are known for is the mac and cheese.
“A lot of people love them because they’re huge,” she shares. “We have Lobster, Pulled Pork ‘n’ Bacon, and then a Crab mac and cheese.
As for the fresh fish, they bring in different catches every day. When we visited, their special was wahoo, and they also recently featured flounder.
“It has a nice feel, and a chill spot. The whole idea behind it is a place where you can relax and have a drink by the water,” she says.
“You can’t beat being on the canal. The views are awesome,” Scott says.
Keely nods. “What do you do at 5 o’clock when you get off work? You want a beer, you want to sit by the water, eat some oysters at happy hour.”
“You just said my favorite things in the world,” Courtney says.
If you’re looking for something fun to add to your experience, Wheelhouse hosts multiple recurring events each week, including Mingo and trivia night.
Mingo, as we learned during our chat with Keely, is Music Bingo.
“I love working it, it’s fun, everyone gets into it,” she says. “It’s actually gotten really big since it started. It started with a few tables in our bar. Now our entire bar area, dining room, and outside areas are taken over by Mingo. There are five rounds, and we do giveaway prizes from the different reps.”
During these nights, everyone is drinking and enjoying the fun, even the DJ!
“We started Mingo in October, mostly for the locals in the offseason,” she says. “But it got so popular that we decided to keep it on for the summer. When we started doing Mingo at Bushels, it was a big hit.”
“We do that on Thursdays, and on Mondays, we do trivia. Then, on Friday and Saturday, we have live local music, so that’s always great,” Keely says.
Guests can expect some future tap takeovers as well.
At that moment in the conversation, our first dish, the Beer Braised Pulled Pork Burrito comes out.
“Oh my god,” Scott says.
“Is that a baby?” Courtney asks, eyes wide.
The burrito is massive. Make sure you prepare for the experience ahead of time, or have someone on hand to help share it with you.
It’s topped with house-made queso cheese sauce, which matches so well with the tortilla, meat, dirty rice, and black beans. Of course, you can’t go wrong pairing this dish with Tan Limes, with a zesty finish that helps balance out the savory flavors of the pork.
We couldn’t say anything other than exclamations of awe for several seconds.
Then the next dishes started to arrive at the table.
“Ok, that’s beautiful,” Courtney says as the Voodoo Calamari and Togarashi Seared Tuna are brought out.
For the Togarashi Seared Tuna, the Yellowfin tuna is seared lightly on both sides, creating a perfect inner layer. It sits on top of cucumber slices, and is paired with wasabi aioli, and dashes of wasabi mayo and sriracha. The tuna has a distinct pepper flavor thanks to the cracked pepper on top, making it an invigorating fit for a pint of Cape May IPA to complement some of those spices and the flavor of the fish itself.
The Voodoo Calamari is cut in-house, and features a glaze-y sweet chili voodoo sauce that is, quite frankly, out of this world, along with parmesan cheese and jalapeño. If you want an even more elevated experience while you savor these, we recommend trying both Cape May IPA and Tan Limes, which will each give a different experience, with Tan Limes playing well off the jalapeños, and Cape May IPA bringing out the nuances of sweet chili sauce.
“It’s got a little bit of sting, but there’s also sweetness to it,” Keely says of the voodoo sauce.
As you take a bite, the sauce goes down almost like honey, with just a touch of kick perfect for the dish.
They have a regular Calamari dish as well, if you’re looking for something traditional, and the care taken to cut in-house definitely shows in the quality of this dish.
Finally, rounding out our meal was the Key West Grouper Tacos, lightly fried and topped with a key lime aioli. While Tan Limes is an obvious choice for this one, we munched on these with a can of Crushin’ It, which provides some added citrus and orange notes that really bring the flavor of the aioli and blend of flavors to life.
The tacos were perfectly saturated, and the grouper melts in your mouth as you bite in, creating a heavenly experience on your tastebuds.
“They all look great,” Scott says, admiring the plating for each dish as Courtney rounded them up to take pictures.
Right now, the Wheelhouse team includes 10 bartenders, over 30 servers, a host, over a dozen bussers and runners, and nearly forty kitchen staff members, along with the four managers.
Although we didn’t have any room for the desserts, Keely mentioned that her mom does the baking for all of their desserts, and we can’t wait to try some when we go back.
As for drinks you can enjoy, Wheelhouse features, they have a number of awesome rum cocktails, an array of crushes, and, of course, Cape May brews on tap!
“Our owner will drink an Orange Crush, and refill it with the Crushin’ It,” Keely shares.
They offer a number of different Crush flavors, including Blueberry Lemon, Grapefruit, Blood Orange, Cherry Limeade, and more.
We can already imagine some of the ways you can combine one of these Crushes with our Crushin’ It flavors!
As we were finishing up, and still attempting to tackle the burrito, Mike stopped by, as he made his round visiting.
He eyed our plates with approval. “The Key West Tacos are one of my favorites,” he says.
Wheelhouse is still relatively new compared to their sister restaurants. Mike tells us that they took over the current building in 2018.
As the Director of Operations, Mike splits his time between the three, helping out with whatever needs to be done.
We gushed about all of the dishes, lamenting the fact that we physically could not find any more space in our stomachs to fit the remaining piece of the burrito.
While Bushels and Zogg’s, Wheelhouse’s sister restaurants, offer some of the same experiences, they’re each different in their own way, so we recommend folks check out those as well for the full experience!
Those two spots also feature our beers on draft and in cans, and play local live music.
We just might be working with Wheelhouse for something in the very near future, so make sure you keep an eye out on our events page and in our newsletter in the coming weeks.
Who knows, you might even spot a few brew crew members as well! If you get a chance to check out Wheelhouse, make sure to tag us on social media at @capemaybrewco. We’d love to see more of their food and drink options that we haven’t tried yet!