Kelly’s Tavern

Delaware – 19964 Miles Driven.  

Delaware is a state famed for its crab cakes; I chose to eat mine at Kelly’s Tavern.  It turns out they make a mean turtle soup too.

The small fishing village of Port Penn where Kelly’s is located didn’t seem to be particularly lively the day I paid a visit, and save for a friendly group of locals eating their lunches at the bar, Kelly’s didn’t seem to be either.  The group included welders Bob, his son Morgan, and Lance, and Shelva who is known locally as the cake lady though I can’t recall why.

The locals

Bob has been eating and drinking at Kelly’s for years and though he agreed with me that Kelly’s crab cakes are very good, he insisted I try their turtle soup too.  Before I could protest he’d ordered me a bowl of it.  I’d tried what I was told was turtle soup once before in New Orleans and wasn’t impressed.  The soup, traditionally served with a shot of extra sherry to be added according to personal preference, certainly looked meatier than what I’d eaten in New Orleans, and manager Betsy assured me it definitely did have plenty of real turtle in it.  No one was surprised more than I was to find that I actually enjoyed it, it was an extremely rich and tasty bowl of soup.  The large chunks of turtle looked and tasted a lot like beef, well that’s what I kept telling myself anyway.

The best turtle soup I’ve ever eaten

I was grateful to Betsy for waiting until after I’d finished my soup before detailing how it’s made.  The grim sounding task of preparing snapper turtle falls to Arthur, Kelly’s owner, who early each morning makes the soup and the crab cakes.  The ½ lb. crab cakes are served as an open sandwich, presented in a soft and buttery Kaiser roll.  Kelly’s uses crab from the neighbouring state of Maryland because the meat is sweeter than crab caught in Delaware’s waters.  It wasn’t made with the prized lump you’d may be expect, but the crab cake was still delicious.  Betsy wouldn’t disclose Arthur’s secret recipe, but I suspect the ingredients were minimal and most importantly there was a lot of crab.

Bob insisted I try the local(ish) Yuengling beer to wash down my slightly unorthodox choice of lunch.  I wasn’t a fan; actually I probably would have preferred another cup of turtle soup.

Kelly’s Tavern is located at; 101 Market St, Port Penn, DE 19731.  Telephone; +1 (302) 834-9221.


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