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Jun 26, 2013 12:47 PM

Bryan Sikora's La Fia to open in Wilmington this week

The concept is a market, plus bakery, plus bistro--location is across the street from the Queen theater. As I have tickets for a show at the Queen in August, I figured I'd book dinner at this place beforehand. They are already accepting reservations on Open Table, although I think the restaurant part of the establishment will open only in mid-July.

If anyone gets over there before I do, please post! My last experience with his cooking was at the (pre-divorce) Talula's Table, which really was quite stupendous, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he will do here.

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    1. He did some nice things recently at a.Kitchen as well. If he keeps up that quality then Wilmington will be blessed with some good food.

      1. I read that in the paper a couple of days ago and wondered about the location. What are the chances Sikora can maintain a decent level of business there?

        8 Replies
        1. re: CindyJ

          It is a valid question, for sure. The one thing I would say is that if there are any chefs who could drag people with money into downtown Wilmington for dinner, he has to be on the list. He definitely needs to do a lot of outreach to the well-off population of New Castle County (most of whom are afraid of downtown Wilmington...sigh), and also to the people coming to see shows at the Queen.

          Orillas Tapas did a good business when they were in a similar location on Market St. I am not so sure how well they do now that they're up the street in a very cursed space--I've been there a couple of times since and it's always half empty at best.

            1. re: ellenfoto

              Oh no! I knew that space was the kiss of death. They did so well at 4th & Market.

          1. re: CindyJ

            What are the chances he can stay there for a few years?

            1. re: sal_acid

              Him or the business?

              I can't see going there myself at night...

              1. re: bluehensfan

                > I can't see going there myself at night...

                Why not, if I may ask?

                1. re: travelmad478

                  I'm not all that keen on going downtown to Wilmington after the sun sets. Well, maybe Trolley Square is OK...

                  1. re: bluehensfan

                    Oh, it's not so scary. I work downtown, I go to shows downtown, and I eat dinner downtown too. Haven't died yet in 15 years here.

          2. We're having dinner there tonight. will post on how it goes, very excited!

            1. We ate at La Fia last night before a show at the Queen. Pleasingly, the restaurant appeared to be full by 7 PM, which is a good sign for downtown Wilmington, so let's hope business stays buoyant.

              The food was good but definitely not to the level of the meals we had at Talula's, unfortunately. We didn't get any of the main courses, but stuck to the smaller plates. We started with the "butcher & baker" board (meant for sharing) which had 5-6 little piles of various cured meats, plus gherkins and quite a number of toasted breads. All were good but none were super imaginative or really knockouts. I then had the scallop appetizer over summer succotash, which was three mid-size seared scallops over about half a cup of vegetables. This dish was OK but not great. I felt the scallops had been cooked a bit too long, the dish was quite salty, and the corn used for the succotash didn't seem terribly fresh. It wasn't unpleasant, but I wouldn't order it again. I also ordered a side dish of what "vegetable bread pudding" which turned out to be two small pieces of savory, garlic-infused French toast topped with a small handful of nicely cooked haricots verts. This was pretty tasty. It is a small dish, so don't think you're getting something that the table can share. Mr. tm478 had the cavatelli with fennel sausage appetizer, which was actually pretty sizeable and would have served me well as a main course. This was, like everything else, good but not memorable. I finished up with the homemade peach ice cream with fruit--a golf-ball sized scoop, more sorbet-ish than creamy, with very nice fresh strawberries, blueberries, and peaches. For me this was a good size for a dessert, but I think a larger person would have been a little disappointed. There were other desserts that looked very good to me (ricotta and blueberry cake sounded great) but I didn't have room for them.

              The wine list is probably the best part of the menu, and the little market next door had some very good-looking cheeses that I would have liked to try. Oddly, there was no cheese plate listed for after-dinner ordering--it was only there as a starter. The beer list is short and rather unimaginative, which was a disappointment. There are pizza joints in this town with more interesting beer options!

              Service was OK: "Wilmington" quality high-end service, if you know what I mean. I shouldn't have to ask for another glass of wine and also ask to get my water refilled when I'm paying that much money...but in other respects it was prompt and friendly.

              In all I am pleased to have this restaurant in existence as an option, but I wasn't wowed by it. I hope the kitchen can do a little better on ingredients and creativity, because I know that this chef has the ability to do that. There certainly seems to be enough demand, at least when the Queen and the Grand have popular acts playing.

              9 Replies
              1. re: travelmad478

                Hmmm. I wasn't wowed by my meals at a.Kitchen in Philly but looked forward to La Fia's opening. I wonder if this is as good as it gets or just opening jitters. Thanks for posting...i think!

                1. re: bluehensfan

                  Yeah, I will definitely give it another shot since they've only been open for a month. I have no idea who was actually in the kitchen on Wednesday, of course--you'd hope it was Sikora, but if it wasn't, he needs to get in there.

                  I never ate at any of his places in Philly so can't compare to those, but my meals at Talula's Table were really top-notch. Of course that was one table with a fixed menu, so theoretically it would be easier to wow people in a situation like that.

                  1. re: travelmad478

                    I guess we will see what happens at La Fia. Although it will probably survive either way since there are a lot of mediocre places in town that do perfectly well, I was hoping that this would be the "aha" moment that Wilmington deserves.

                    Admittedly, what worries me is that, while Sikora's cooking at Talulah's was fantastic, I wonder how much of that could be due to his ex because our meals at a.Kitchen were decent but by no means great or even all that inventive. And Talulah's Garden and the new eatery in Philly seem to be cranking out some really good food these days so you wonder if he is really a creative genius or just used to be married to one.

                    1. re: bluehensfan

                      My guess is that he used to be married to a person who was a really good manager and could hire and retain excellent, detail-oriented staff both in the kitchen and in the front of the house. We were having a whole conversation about this last night, and saying how important it was to a restaurant's success. You can have one person who's creative, but if no one's keeping a very close eye on everything that's going on (front and back), you get slip-ups in execution. I feel like that's what's happening.

                      I will have to get up to Talulah's Garden. The early reviews I read were not too great but my impression is that things have improved.

                      Meanwhile we had a dinner last night at William & Merry in Hockessin that was superior in every way to La Fia!

                      1. re: travelmad478

                        Dinner at William & Merry WAS wonderful last night. Thanks for introducing us to another "neighborhood gem."

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          I look forward to our next dining adventure! If you want to book Birchrunville, December is looking good for me :-)

                  1. re: scoopG

                    We had three appetizers, a side dish, a dessert, two beers, and two glasses of wine. Total before tip was $90. So not cheap.