Nage notables celebrate a triumphant 10 years
It’s sad but true: A new restaurant venture is statistically doomed to fail within the first year of operation. You can blame the economy all you want, but what about the many restaurants that do actually make it in spite of the economy excuse? Apparently they took that extra step to success by equipping themselves with more working capital, more skill, better training, better food, clever branding, superior management, a proactive attitude - whatever it takes. Nature dictates that only the strong survive, and that’s even more true in a seasonal resort town.
So it’s a big deal when a restaurant actually gets the chance to celebrate a double-digit anniversary! And those of us who pay attention to those sorts of things recognize that Rehoboth’s emergence as a culinary destination can be traced directly to business-minded restaurateurs who worked and sacrificed to make it this far. The list gets longer every season: Back Porch Café will have 40 candles on its cake this year. Blue Moon is well over 30 and counting. Even casual spots like Robin Hood, Gus & Gus’ Place, Dos Locos, Crystal, Louie’s and others quietly keep on keepin’ on, year after year.
Just a few weeks ago, Nage threw a spectacular 10-year birthday party with an all-star cast in the kitchen and two seatings for invited guests. It was a veritable potpourri of Rehoboth glitterati, cognoscenti, paparazzi and anything else cool that ends with an “i.”
Owner Josh Grapski and longtime GM Mark Harrison pulled together an impressive lineup of Nage alumni representing 10 years of Nage history in the kitchen (not to mention an auxiliary kitchen out back under a tent!). Founder Kevin Reading (Abbott’s Grill - Milford and Laurel) and Nage toque from ’08 to ’12, now chef/owner of a(MUSE.) Hari Cameron teamed up to create hors d’oeuvres and the first course. Leave it to molecular gastronome (translation: mad scientist) Cameron to come up with mustard seed toffee, tomato cocktail leather and lemon powder to grace his deconstructed shrimp cocktail and seared scallop.
Reading, Rehoboth’s official all-around nice guy (just ask anybody) matched Hari molecule for molecule with a creamy risotto laced with tomato, crispy braised guanciale and a politely fried quail egg. Breakfast for dinner! Love it.
Chef Paul Gallo made a name for himself at Abbott’s in Milford, ably filling the executive chef position vacated when opening chef Ryan Cunningham moved to Bonz in Harrington. (Ryan is now the kitchen boss at Abbott’s on Broad Creek in Laurel.) Gallo has taken the reins at Nage in the wake of Ted Deptula’s departure for Lewes Yacht Club. Paul proved himself spectacularly with a braised short rib and butter-poached lobster entrée.
A crispy potato cake was only lightly truffled (mercifully!) and shared the plate with spring veggies. The always upbeat Cunningham (cooked lunch at Nage for years) and Ted moved from station to station, supporting their peers and mentors as needed. Talk about a recipe for success!
Nage has a built-in dessert department in the form of Chef Angela Nye next door at Root Gourmet. In fact, she crafts all of the sweets for Nage. Angela outdid herself with a decadently rich chocolate cake redolent of Bailey’s that stood proudly alongside her very own salted caramel crème brûlée. Even the most hoity-toity of guests couldn’t help but lick their spoons like blissful golden retrievers. A cool espresso martini placed a bold exclamation mark to top off the meal.
Proper kudos were given to the guy who started it all, Kevin Reading, and the guy who has skillfully kept it running all these years, owner Josh Grapski. Happy birthday, Nage! May there be many more.