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Dec 18, 2011 05:12 PM

Farm to Table Restaurant in Odessa, DE [Cantwell's Tavern]

New farm to table restaurant opened this week in Odessa in the Historic Brick Hotel. The proprietor also owns and operates the three McGlynns Pubs in DE and the historic Deer Park in Newark, DE

Stopped by for a late bunch on my way to cut down our Christmas tree. Location has a small bar with some seating on the first floor. All other parts of the dining are original rooms with one to eight tables in each.

Configuration may be an issue. Kitchen on the first floor to the rear of the original building. All food and drink is carried up the main stairway which can place the server and customer in a precarious situation.

For the brunch, there was a Bloody Mary fixin's and syrup bar in the tavern area. Second configuration problem. Food and drink is served to the table upstairs, but customer needs to take their drink/food back down to the tavern to complete your Bloddy Mary or apply syrup to the pancakes or french toast. I like the idea, but it can be more trouble than it is worth for those not on the first floor.

Special Sunday Brunch menu and a nice, but not overbearing menu the rest of the week. Loads of domestic, craft and foreign beers and wines available.

Entrees for party of 8 next to us came out in three definitive shifts. First time at a place, we take it easy, so I just went with a simple burger, my wife and granddaughter went with a Big Breakfast which consisted of two pancakes, two eggs, sausage, bacon and potatoes. It came out in two shifts and without the potatoes. There seemed to be a lot of staff on hand, so there shouldn't be a shortage of someone to check and expedite food coming out. They need to work on it.

Waitstaff varied. Our waitress was attentive and on the ball, yet spent more time apologizing to all her tables for little things that were beyond her control. Another waitress did not seem up on her product. Brought a table a couple "samples" of local draft, but wasn't sure what she had actually brought when asked by the customer what it was.

Delivered product was good, but just warm. With the time and distance the food needs to travel, it would probably be a plus if they incorporated dish covers in the service.

And last, but not least, the bathrooms are in the basement with a handicapped facility on the first floor. The open restrooms accommodate two persons. The building is ADA compliant with a ramped entrance off the side street and a small elevator.

As noted, new restaurant with new staff. It takes a while for kitchen, waitstaff and management to mesh, they'll get there. First Saturday evening they accommodated 120 reservations, so the people know they are there.

Prices are, IMO, reasonable.

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  1. Thanks for the review - good to know as there isn't much else nearby without going into Middletown.

    1. We've been waiting for Cantwell's to open, since they have an interesting beer list that Mr. travelmad478 wants to try, but we figured we'd hold off on going until after they have worked out the opening-month kinks. Sounds like we have been right to delay our first visit! Thanks for the review.

      1. Very nice review. Sounds like a nice place to try early next year.

        1. We made it to Cantwell's last week and were quite pleased. I wish this place were not so far away--basically this is the restaurant I want to see open in Hockessin. The beer list is indeed very fine, and the food is very nice as well. We really wanted to order a lot more things than we could possibly have eaten, but in the event we had:

          - an order of the homemade pickles. Excellent, and I would have bought more to to take home if they sold them in sealed jars. Maybe on the pricey side at $5 for a small jar of pickles, but hey, they were very good.
          - flat bread with Vermont cheddar and fennel salami with apples. Just OK. I always find cheddar to be too oily for a preparation like this. The salami was fine, but nothing more.
          - turkey pot pie. Very nice indeed, although technically it was more like turkey stew served with a giant cheddar biscuit. Both filling and biscuit were delicious--no short-changing on the turkey, some nice baby carrots in there, and a biscuit so tasty that I ate every scrap of it even though I should have stopped after the top half, just because it was gigantic.
          - steamed mussels with chipotle cider broth. Although Mr. travelmad478 liked this, I thought the broth was way too sweet. Mussels and apple juice are not a good combination, IMO. Also on the menu are some other broth options, like beer/mustard, that I think would be more successful.
          - chocolate pecan pie. I thought this was great (at least, the one bite I had). Mr. tm478 said it wasn't as good as his North Carolina grandmother's version, but I found that to be a quibble. My Bronx grandmother never made anything that good ;-) They serve Woodside ice cream--always nice to see, although considering we live 3 miles from the dairy, we have a freezer full of it at home anyway!

          Service was super friendly, and still professional. We were there at about 6:30 PM on a Sunday night and the place was mostly full, which is a good sign. We were sitting in one of the rooms on the ground floor, right by the kitchen door, so we didn't have the same issues with "travel time" that Irishmafia had. Our food arrived in the proper sequence and with just-right timing, so they appear to have worked out the kinks there.

          We really wanted to try the pretzels and the charcuterie board, but with only two of us dining, it was a bridge too far. We'll definitely go back to try more menu items. In fact we are booked for the next beer dinner, on April 9. The menu for the last one looked great, although immense--I'm not sure how I can possibly eat all that!

          1. Just another update of our experiences at Cantwell's, where we had dinner again last night--we've been there about 5x so far and really like it. Still wishing it were not so far away, but in truth it's just a 35-minute drive from our house in Hockessin, so it's not like it's on the moon. We arrived for a 6 PM reservation and the place was pretty much packed. There was a line waiting to check in with the hostess. I'm really glad to see the place doing so well.

            They now have a sizeable patio open out back, which is where we sat last night. It's a very nice space (although I wish smoking were prohibited there, as it is inside). The weather was absolutely perfect for sitting outside yesterday, and we had a really nice time out there, listening to very relaxing live music (a singer-keyboardist, playing at a volume that was perfect for both hearing the music and still having conversation with your dining companions).

            The service is really very good at this point--lots of servers working collaboratively, orders taken promptly, food and drinks brought out in a good time frame, no sitting around wondering "where's my server," and very friendly. I had a Peach Festival special entree of a pork chop served with sauteed peaches and green beans. The sauteed peaches in particular were outstanding, probably because they were sauteed in enough butter to make a tray of croissants, but I don't care--it was delicious! I am not a person who generally likes "sweet" in a main course, but I do love peaches, and with pork they work.

            We were too full for dessert, which always happens to me, and it's always a shame, because the dessert list looks so nice.

            The beer list is still phenomenal and rates up there with Two Stones Pub (Newark) as Delaware's best.