Ulysses Gastropub has found a way to set itself apart from the growing food scene in Wilmington, Delaware. With 25 rotating taps and a “modern farm to table” experience from Chef James Sparks, Ulysses Gastropub is a unique foodie and craft beer lover destination. Elevated comfort-food and tap-takeovers are just a few of the things that keep their customers coming back again and again to this predominantly scratch kitchen.

Ulysses Gastropub is one of the first gastropubs in the area and was based off the book Ulysses by Jame Joyce and the Joyce burger is on the menu.Opened 8 years ago by restaurateurs, Stephen and Michael Lucey, the establishment is part of a line of successful northern Delaware hotspots (Dead President’s Pub was sold in 2009 and Six Paupers is thriving in Hockessin) from the Lucey brothers. Four years ago they asked Chef Sparks, a 22 year veteran of the industry, to take the lead.

Chef James Sparks Ulysses Gastropub

Chef James Sparks of Ulysses Gastropub in Wilmington, Delaware

“My [culinary] career began at the Philadelphia Restaurant School (now Walnut Hill), but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue it. After school, I worked under really great, classically French-trained chefs for 10 years, combining my knowledge from school and the hands on experience.”

From then on, Chef Sparks also took the time to learn other techniques and cuisines. He is especially fond of the West Coast culinary scene from San Francisco to San Diego and its heavy focus on seafood and light, lean menus.

“I got monkfish from you last week and it was beautiful. Generally, I buy seafood from Rastelli’s once a week and then always the strips, always the turkey burgers, short ribs and filet tenderloin tails…”

Ulysses Gastropub Turkey Burger

Chef Sparks marks the Turkey Burger on the grill t

“I’ve been a Rastelli customer for 10-12 years, even back in my days at Riverview Inn and Telford Inn. When we make a product change, we make sure our servers let people know that its new and ask how they like it. The turkey burger is a house favorite and we get great feedback from our customer.”

Chef Tip: Because turkey is so lean, you don’t want to put it on the grill and leave it. We put it on the grill to mark it and then finish on the flat top to retain the moisture. these don’t need the binding that others have used.

Chef Favorites: “There’s nothing like cooking a great steak – the sear, the sizzle and the smoke that comes off of it. I also like cooking seafood from tuna tartar to pescatore.”