Update: Food & Wine visits Biden haunts; Tonic shines; Augustine Inn’s ghostly night; Sugar Factory may finally come to Dover Downs


Food and Wine magazine dispatched freelance writer Betsy Andrews to northern Delaware to take a look at some of the favorite restaurants of Joe and Jill Biden.

blankAndrews visited and/or mentioned the Charcoal Pit (Biden’s Happy Days teen hangout), Toscana in Trolley Square, and La Fia and Bardea, two foodie favorites in downtown Wilmington. Walt’s chicken also made the list. Ciro on the Rivefront was mentioned and Claymont Steak Shop earned high praise

Check out the link above for all mentions.

Andrews was no fan of Capriotti’s, which over the years sent its sandwiches down I-95 to Biden events. The turkey was dry, she reported.

Andrews may be on to something. A sandwich ordered recently from a local Capriotti’s was on the dry side with less than generous amounts of turkey and Russian dressing. As always, the roll was just fine.

The list of restaurants Biden has visited over the years is much longer and it’s likely that Jill and Joe popped into many mid and upper-range Italian spots.

Augustine Inn goes upscale

Augustine Inn is getting some positive buzz in southern New Castle County.

While the website lists its location as the Middletown area, it is actually near Fort Penn across the river from the Salem nuclear plant.

Long known as a biker bar, the historic building that dates from the 1700s is now the Augustine Inn Seafood and Chophouse.

The restaurant has quietly amassed a following in the affluent MOT area.

Offerings range from a fried chicken sandwich to a surf and turf offering that will do some damage to your credit card balance. It’s on our to-do list.

By the way, The Augustine Inn is holding a paranormal night that will include a meal and a tour of a building that should have its share of ghostly mysteries.

Following a late October dinner, another event is slated for a period with a Ghosbusters-sized level of paranormal activity on Tuesday (election night).

Tonic shines

Tonic Seafood and Steaks is a hardy survivor of the downtown Wilmington dining scene that has stepped up its game. The restaurant housed under a parking ramp near the Hotel DuPont started out as Deep Blue, but as the cliche goes “pivoted” to a steak and seafood focus.

Prices have risen but so have the quality of the steaks. The filet and Kansas City strip steaks were excellent. The strip might have been the best steak with compound butter (apologies to cardiologists) was perhaps the best I have enjoyed in Delaware.

A big serving of the top-notch tuna tartare appetizer would make for a nice meal.

The level of service more than matched the quality of the food.

Signs point to The Sugar Factory coming to Dover Downs

You might remember that The Sugar Factory was slated to go into Dover Downs complex this year, based on press releases dating back to last year.

Then came Covid-19. Now signs point to a 2021 opening of the restaurant-candy shop known for drawing celebrities like the Kardashians and Drake.

The Sugar Factory likes locations at or near casinos or tourist spots examples being the Hard Rock in Atlantic City and the Gaslamp District in San Diego.

Signs now point to a 2021 opening at a bar site at Dover Downs. The casino says more news will be forthcoming.

The Sugar Factory is a good fit for Dover Downs since it offers a big menu that includes breakfast, brunch, dinner, over the top sundaes, and specialty drinks. It should also attract a younger crowd, thanks in part to its presence on Instagram and the above-mentioned celeb sightings.

A look at the Atlantic City menu can lead to sticker shock from offerings like $14 milkshakes However, locations in casinos similar to Dover Downs have more down-to-earth pricing.

A new name for Dover Downs?

On a related note, it will be interesting to see if Dover Downs is rebranded. Rhode Island owner Twin River acquired the brand from Caesars, with a release hinting at casinos getting new names.

As noted earlier on this website, Twin River is in the process of acquiring the aging Bally’s casino in Atlantic City at a bargain-basement price as it works to build a nationwide presence.

Gaming giants often retain well-known brands like Atlantic City’s Borgata, now owned by MGM. While Dover Downs is fairly well known in the region, it might benefit from a nationwide rebranding. – Doug and Sharon Rainey.

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