On Saturday the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine group was supposed to meet for a tour of the Old Dominion Brewery in Dover. Unfortunately, Tracey and I got caught in a traffic jam due to an accident that ended up actually shutting down the road we were on. Forced to turn around, and knowing we’d missed our tour we decided instead to take advantage of the situation and (finally) stop in at Cantwell’s Tavern in Odessa, Delaware.
Cantwell’s Tavern (Web, Facebook, Twitter) opened in December 2011 promising delicious farm-to-table food which included house made sausages, bacon, bread and sauces; as well as an upscale tap list. As soon as we heard about it we put it on our list of places to try, but sadly the couple of times we tried to dial it into our schedule something else popped up. But thanks to a well placed traffic jam (well, I probable shouldn’t say that; we really did want to go on the brewery tour) we were finally sitting in the barroom of this 19th century style tavern.
Cantwell’s resides in the historic Brick Hotel that was established in 1822. The barroom and dinning room have been given a look that suits this time period (having once lived in Historic New Castle I really love this type of décor), from simply dressed dinning room tables to a bar with old time swing-down ceiling gates. The barroom is accented in period pieces and populated with simple high-top wooden tables and stools along with a few booths in one corner.
We claimed a booth and eagerly scanned the tap selection. I was surprised to see Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum on the list and thought I’d get a sneak peak of it before I did a review on the bottle that’s in my fridge. But sadly the keg had already kicked, but Evolution’s Lot 6 had replaced it so I ordered one. Tracey didn’t find anything on the draft list that spoke to her, so she turned her attention to the ample bottle list and found one of her favorites, Allagash White.
Beer decided, we turned to the menu. We immediately realized that this was not going to be easy. The menu was full of excellent sounding choices keying on terms like “grass feed Angus beef” and “house made bacon and sausage”. I was pleased to see andouille sausage sprinkled through out the menu and the grilled BBQ wings definitely caught my eye.
In the end though it was the steamed mussels that won out. You can order them cooked three different ways and it was nice to see that each contain a signature base liquid; one used beer, the second wine, the third cider. Having never had a cider based mussel dish before, I selected the chipolte cider mussels. Tracey ordered a side dish of the deviled eggs, and Carolina pulled pork sandwich.
The eggs must have been good because Tracey finished them quickly. She thought the pulled pork was a little on the sweet side, but loved the flavor. I thought the sweetness was ok, and thought the pork was well done. The mussels were on point (to quote Mr Fiere), plump and perfectly cooked. The broth had a slight smokiness from the chipolte but didn’t mask the subtle flavors of the cider. The real kicker however was the tangy cheese that was sprinkled on the dish. It perfectly paired with the mussels to bring the dish to another level. And it all went perfect with my second beer choice, Allagash Four.
Finishing up, I ordered a Taylor’s Grog to end the meal. Taylor’s is a specialty beer brewed by the guys out at Twin Lakes Brewing. It’s sort of a marker beer because if you see it on tap, you know you’re in a bar that’s owned by the same group that owns McGlynn’s, The Deerpark, and of course Cantwell’s.
Cantwell’s beer list consists of twelve taps and as I mentioned before an extensive bottle list. The taps run north to south, with macros like Miller and Yuengling mixed in with local boys DFH (90 Minute IPA, Red and White) and Evolution(Lot #3, Lot #6). The rest of the taps are rounded out with breweries like Allagash, Stone, Troegs, Goose Island and Yards. The taps rotate, so check the website frequently.
If the rest of the menu is as solid, then Cantwell’s is indeed doing it right. As for the beer, no complaints here, a nice mixture of macro and micro that should guarantee that anyone who goes there should be able to find a beer they enjoy. Cantwell’s runs daily specials, so check out their website. They had mugs hanging which leads me to believe they have a mug club, but I didn’t ask. They also appear to be running some interesting events like the Stouts and Stogies dinner coming up. Three food courses and 1 cigar, each paired with a different stout; Yards Love Stout, Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout and Schlafly Reserve Bourbon Aged Imperial Stout (a recent tweet or facebook post suggests that this is the one that’s being paired with the cigar).
Believe me, it won’t take another traffic jam to get us back to Cantwell’s Tavern!