The old Columbus Inn was a long-time favorite restaurant for us and many in greater Wilmington. It closed a few years ago, but reopened recently, so my wife and I decided to try the "new" Columbus Inn. The inside of the old Inn fit the outside – an older building – and was characterized by dark woods and a generally warm, colonial appearance. The atmosphere in the new Columbus Inn is very different – modern, but just as comfortable and quiet.
My wife, who's a small eater, ordered the soup-of-the-day, which happened to be Kennett Square mushroom, and the Filet Mignon Carpaccio (appetizer). I got the Crispy Calamari "snack" and the Crab Cake "Cobb".
The service was quite attentive, starting with warm, homemade bread that that did not have a crust hard as a brick (!) like some restaurant's we've been to lately. Delivery time for the main meal items was long, so if you're restricted on time, limit your choices to appetizers and snacks.
The mushroom soup was extremely good, but was the type where the mushrooms have been ground to a fine powder, so there are no pieces of mushroom in it, which both of us prefer. I didn't try the Carpaccio, but my wife said it was quite good and very different from anything she'd ever had. And unlike many "appetizers" at restaurants these days, it was quite small – a true appetizer.
Not so my calamari. To the restaurant's credit, the dish is not under "Appetizers"; it's under "Snacks". Most visitors would consider them the same, as did I, and the server didn't warn me that they're not. The restaurant's Snacks are mini-meals, and I had to doggie-bag about half of it. It was also not that good. Taste was fine, but the meat was very rubbery. I get calamari in almost every restaurant that offers it and have found only two that have discovered the secret of how to make squid non-rubbery: Macaroni Grill (the best) and Sullivan's (great taste, but excessively spicy).
My Crab Cake "Cobb" was the most interesting entrée I've had in a long time. A bed of lettuce ran end-to-end through the middle of the oval dish. On one side of the lettuce were two sizable crab cakes with a smattering of "broken" tartar sauce (have no idea what "broken" means). On the other side was a collection of things: a couple of small pieces of lobster, a large shrimp, Greek olives, cherry tomatoes, slices of avocado, a hard-boiled egg split in half, and real bacon bits. The centerpiece of the dish was, of course, the crab cakes. While they were pure crab – no filler – they were overcooked, dry, and seemed a bit over salted. To mitigate the dryness, I asked for additional tartar sauce, which didn't help much. I ate only one of the cakes and brought the other one home where I can apply ample tartar sauce and perhaps other oils to it to make it less dry.
We finished the meal with a shared crème brulée. It was very good.
Cost wise, this restaurant is definitely upper end. While I had a full meal, my wife had only soup, appetizer, half the crème brulée, and chamomile tea. The bill came to $73.
Although my rating shows 4 stars, I'd really rate it "4 minus", were that available.
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