The slogans say it best: (1) Crafted Foods to Go, and (2) Relax. We take the worry off your plate. In fact, that pretty much sums it up.
The slogans are cute, but that last one is what brings people into Nage Pantry (formerly Root Gourmet) to see what it’s all about. It just seems natural to capitalize on the popular “Nage” brand when they first opened this place, but for some reason they didn’t. Root Gourmet suffered some fits & starts as it tried to figure out what it wanted to be when it grew up. After a couple of years, it did: As of late spring 2015, it is now Nage Pantry. And hopefully it can faithfully and consistently live up to that name.
The equation is simple. You take a look at their menu, call in your order, pick it up, take it home, transfer it to your plates, pots and pans, hide every last bit of the packaging, and tell everybody you made it yourself. Easy, huh? Of course, you can also order from the chalkboard menus, select something that looks good and plop yourself down for a nice lunch with some soup and perhaps a cup of tea.
I have planned a new review of the revamped space, but I have left the old article below for your reference. But remember: They have reinvented the spot, so things will be different when you go in there. Our first order from the old Root was pork loin. They slathered it with a softly savory mushroom garlic gravy. Another entree is the charred flank steak with a perfectly spiced chimichurri sauce. People also like the cilantro-garlic mojo shrimp skewers and the herb and goat cheese stuffed portabellos. Do not that, like Root’s sister, Nage (next door), and most other restaurants in Rehoboth, that the menu and selections change often. Do don’t get too attached to any one thing.
Sadly, I have also received emails about inconsistency in service and food quality. It has taken them a while (and some personnel changes), but it appears that they are taking giant steps toward resolving this issue and getting back to the sort of thing we enjoyed when they first opened. GM Rich Garrahan seems to be in-house and on the ball every day. One of the issues is (or was) the amount of food they displayed in the cold cases. After a while it started to look … well, a little worse for wear. I suggested that they perhaps display less of the items so it would always look fresh. I suspect that seasoned restaurateur and owner Josh Grapski didn’t quite appreciate my suggestions, but interestingly, they have begun to do that. And now the items in the cold case look they way Rich and Josh obviously want them to.
One of the values-added at Root Gourmet is their fresh bread. We mourn the loss of Keith Irwin, the original baker (I called him the “Bread Whisperer,” and he is now whispering at his Old World Breads in Lewes). But with adversity comes opportunity: Those duties at Root Gourmet have been taken over by the locally celebrated chef Liz Kornheiser. Liz has a long list of local culinary conquests, the most recent of which was Blue Moon. If you are lucky enough to be in there when the red velvet cheesecake is in the case. Buy it. Angela Nye is another shining talent, and her amazing truffles are for sale at Root Gourmet.
As I said, the menu tends to vary, but as of this writing the sides include 5-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese, cucumber & red onion salad and the grilled asparagus with sea salt. There are at least 16 others on the menu, plus 6 salads and 12 main courses. You can mix and match if you want, but they also have pre-matched platters there for you to grab ‘n’ go. With names like “The Beachhouse,” “The Big Game,” and “The Seafooder,” you pretty much get the idea. And there are 11 more, plus 20 hot and cold hors d’oeuvres.
Remember the super-trendy Merry-Go-Round and Chess King clothing stores of the ’80s? They were on the leading edge of style for the time, and reacted quickly to the changing needs of their customers. One of the forces behind that concept was brought in to this project make sure you smile when you walk in to Root Gourmet. Marketing and branding expert Steve McLerran’s talents are evident all over the place. (Take a look at the natural “Root” display table by the front door.) Manager Rich Garrahan now runs the joint. Opening chef Brenton Wallace has also moved on (at this writing he is cooking at Dogfish Head in downtown Rehoboth), but Liz has taken up the challenge and is doing a great job. Root Gourmet is in good hands, and we hope it returns to its former glory. During a recent lunch there all indicators pointed to a major improvement. I do want to call your attention to the very cool front door pull — using an actual repurposed pitchfork — another McLerran touch).
There are some upscale grocery items, cheeses and some tasty sips in the back cooler case, but it’s all about the take-home entrees, sides, salads, sandwiches, soups, desserts and breads. Root Gourmet is an interesting concept, and once you’ve visited you’ll see why it’s best to let them do the work while you take all the credit.
Nage Pantry is located at 19724 Coastal Highway, sandwiched between Nage restaurant and Touch of Italy. They are directly across from Tanger Seaside Outlets and Chipotle Mexican Grill and are open every day 11-8 year-round.
By the way, they have a cute cafe menu for eating-in or out front on the wooden arbor deck. Check out the cafe menu here. You can call them for takeout at 302-727-5664 and take a look at their to-go menu here.