I am a recent contributor to GreenDelaware magazine, a brand new resource for all things green (and local) in the First State. You can find it for FREE at any number of Delaware coffee shops and bookstores.
This article is about 1861 Restaurant in Middletown, Delaware. I already featured them in a fun blog post, but this article is a bit more polished for print. (See, I can be serious when I need to be.)
Seasonal Flavor at 1861
Walking down the steps and into the dark wood doors of 1861 Restaurant on North Broad Street in Middletown is like stepping into another time and place. The walls are brick and decorated finely with wood and glass accents, classic light fixtures, and posh bar seating. The atmosphere is modern with a nod to the past.
Even the name “1861” hints at the past. Business partners Jasper Singh and Drew Chas opened the restaurant in September 2011 and named it after the date Middletown was established—February 12, 1861. Before the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal existed, Middletown was the mid-point between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, a natural rest stop for merchants and travelers looking to refuel at local taverns.
In keeping with the history of Middletown, Singh describes 1861 Restaurant as “regional, casual pub fare.” Regional is an understatement, because 1861 takes the idea of a local pub to a new level by putting local ingredients in the spotlight.
Singh and 1861’s executive chef, Brian Schroeder rely heavily on produce from Filasky’s, a farm located on Bunker Hill Road, only a few miles from 1861’s front door. According to Singh, “freshness is incomparable” when using local produce. “Filasky’s corn is the best around—so fresh and so good.” Singh likes the relationship he’s established with Johnny Filasky. “They grow what they like over there, and I can go there and talk to them about it. Johnny just dropped off some kale today,” Singh says.
Middletown needs local places like 1861. No longer just a stopping point between the ocean and the bay, the town’s population has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population hit 3,700 in 1990, but by 2010 that number exploded to 18,871.
“Delaware’s food scene is exciting right now,” Singh says. People are interested in “real food and fresh ingredients.” Singh, born in London but raised in New York, and Chef Schroeder work in tandem to create interesting menu items using local ingredients with a creative flair. Singh says, “[Chef Schroeder] is from around here. He has a local palette; I have a worldly palette.” Their complimentary palettes are the perfect combination when trying out new recipes and flavor profiles.
Singh describes the seasonal menu as “not pretentious.” A guest can order small plates like Pulled Pork Tacos or Tenderloin Sliders with Smoked Gouda and Chimichurri. A popular sandwich item is the Lamb Burger with Feta, Caramelized Onions, and Marinated Tomato. The pizza menu boasts a regional breakfast favorite—scrapple. Topped with scrapple, bacon, fried potatoes, caramelized onions and fried eggs, the Three Little Piggies pizza is a delicious take on breakfast for dinner. Fried Chicken and Waffles, Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, and Pan Seared Duck Breast with Blackberry Gastrique are just a few of the large plates on the menu.
The owners’ dedication to locality doesn’t stop with the seasonal menu, but extends to the community at large. 1861 partners with Christopher Pride, the owner of Fromage: A Cheese Boutique on West Main Street in Middletown, to offer wine and cheese tastings. In May, 1861 hosted the Mid-State Beer Festival, offering Delaware craft beers from Fordham Brewing Company, Dogfish Head, Twin Lakes Brewing Co., and 16 Mile Brewery.
With 1861 Restaurant right in the midst of the ever growing population of Middletown, no one needs to leave town limits to enjoy a night out featuring a warm atmosphere and locally-conscious cuisine. Singh says, “Don’t drive to Philly, come to 1861.”
423 North Broad Street
Middletown, DE 19701