It’s not easy to open a new restaurant in an iconic space like The Green Room in the Hotel du Pont.
But neither the naysayers nor a pandemic could stop chef-partner Tyler Akin, who opened Le Cavalier there Sept. 1.
While there have been some grumblings from Wilmington’s Old Guard, most diners have welcomed the neo-brasserie.
“We are really grateful for the response we’ve received from the community to Le Cavalier’s opening,” said Dave Pollin, cofounder and president of The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG). “The restaurant has been busy every night since we’ve opened and we’re mostly full on the weekends.”
As a result, “Le Cav” is adding brunch on Sunday, Oct. 4.
“Our goal was to introduce brunch within a month after opening,” said Akin, who cultivated his culinary career in Philadelphia. “We are so happy to be right on target. Now we can introduce Le Cav to folks who might not be available in the evenings, and we can expand our team.”
The Tower Hill graduate’s brunch menu continues the concept of marrying French fare with influences from former French colonies. For instance, you can have a croque-madam, a Lyonnaise salad or Tunisian shakshuka (eggs in a sauce of tomatoes with spices).
Shakshuka is popular in Mediterranean cultures, and Akin worked at Zahav, which takes a modern look at Israeli cuisine.
Sweet options at Le Cav include Dutch Baby, a puffy pancake with blackberry, brown butter crème Chantilly and calvados-caramel pecans. Belgian waffles come with flambeed banana and Nutella ganache.
Since we’re in Delaware, expect a jumbo lump crab omelet. Traditionists can also opt for the familiar egg dishes.
As is the case at dinner, guests can dine on the outdoor patio, which sports wicker café chairs and heaters. Online ordering is available for both meals.
“Takeout has been a helpful add-on — something that wasn’t part of the original plan,” Akin said. “It’s been great to see people try a dish one night, love it and order it to-go the next night.”
Thus far, best-selling dishes include gnocchi Parisienne with crab and caviar, Caesar salad, lobster tail, veal shoulder, branzino, swordfish and “enough pomme purée to feed a small army,” he said of the cream whipped potatoes.
“We are grateful for the support Wilmington has shown Le Cav,” he said. “While no restaurants are setting records right now, we’re grateful to have a business that is sustainable for the hotel, our community and our team.”
Make reservations, Pollin advised. “We are accepting walk-ins but recommend booking ahead when possible. When the capacity restriction is lifted — currently at 60% — we expect that the ornate historical space will have even more buzz than it already does.”
For information, reservations and online ordering, go to lecavalierde.com or call 302-594-3154. Le Cav is at 42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, DE 19810.