Special Event
Robert Lhulier
Robert Lhulier
Deep Blue Bar and Grill | Wilmington, DE
Robert Lhulier

Tuesday, March 18, 7:00 P.M.
Members $85, guests $110

We don't know about you, but when we hear the words "lobster cassoulet" we immediately take a lively interest. Robert Lhulier's Italian-American family celebrates Christmas Eve with an all-fish menu, and Lhulier's cassoulet is a favorite at the table. He adopted the basic concept of this traditional Gascon dish and added a few twists—and the result is a rich and warming stew that not only thrills his family but also has diners at Deep Blue Bar and Grill lining up out the door.

The restaurant, restaurateur Dan Butler's third venture in the Wilmington area, made a big splash when it opened in 1998. And its popularity never abated. Weekends, patrons squeeze in elbow to elbow for a taste of dishes like Lhulier's seared ahi tuna, dry-rubbed with Chinese five-spice powder, ginger, and nutmeg, which was Philadelphia Magazine's winning entrée of the year.

Yes, things are going swimmingly for Lhulier, a CIA grad (with a degree in art history from the University of Delaware) who signed on with Deep Blue soon after he finished cooking school. Before school, he'd worked front-of-the-house jobs—as waiter, captain, manager, sommelier—in a number of well-heeled establishments, first at Wilmington's Hotel duPont, then at The Columbus Inn and at Griglia Toscana, a Butler property. Lhulier later ran the dining room at The Ebbitt Room, one of Cape May's best restaurants, and while there, made his first visit to the Beard House, with Ebbitt's chef, who cooked at the Foundation in 1995. Soon after, Lhulier realized that it was the kitchen, and not the dining room, that gave him the most satisfaction, so he enrolled in culinary school. A stage in France, at the Café de Paris in Biarritz, sealed the deal. He came back to the States eager to graduate and re-start his career, this time behind the stoves.

Judging by the good press, it was a wise decision. Philadelphia Magazine's Teresa Capuzzo wrote, "One exclamation of delight rolls over another as we devour the sautéed filet of John Dory, a rich, soothing dish, served with mashed potatoes studded with big pieces of rock shrimp." Susan Hagen of Philadelphia's City Paper called the food "divine," especially Lhulier's appetizer of French asparagus with wild mushrooms and arugula. And The News Journal's Eric Ruth found a real "treat" in the tiny tuna and salmon cakes, "meaty, and blessed with a deep, smoky flavor," which were about "near perfect." Ditto on the pan-roasted Arctic char with caramelized Vidalia onions and a buttery Cabernet sauce—"a swirl of interesting textures and flavors"—and a favorite of Delaware Today's Mark R. Nardone.

Tapenade with Almond and Blue Cheese

Lobster-Walnut Spring Roll

Smoked-Salmon Rillettes

Crab and Chestnut Flan

    Veuve Clicquot Brut NV

Sashimi with Ahi, Shaved Fennel, Grilled Scallion, Melon, Avocado, and Miso-Yuzu Sauce

Chef's Creek Oyster with Shaved Horseradish and Cucumber Brunoise

Venison Carpaccio with Cape Gooseberry Vinaigrette, Toasted Almonds, and Oven-Dried Capers

    Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2000

Maryland Wild Striped Bass with Sweet Pea-Watercress Emulsion, Morels, and Vanilla-Braised Corn

    Corsin Pouilly-Fuissé 2001

Seared Australian Lamb Loin with Braised Baby Turnips, Parsnip-Potato Purée, and Bacon-Artichoke Emulsion

    Grasso Nebbiolo 2001

Coach Farm Goat Cheese and Winter Truffle Tartelette with Walnuts, Leeks, White Truffle Honey, and Apple-Shallot Relish

    Domaine Barmes-Buecher Rosenberg Pinot Gris 1999

Thai Rice Pudding with Lemongrass, Caramelized Pineapple, and Peach Gelato

    Bouchaine Vineyards Tsarina 1997


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