Is it a market? A farm? A restaurant? In fact it’s all three
One of the annoying things about the food industry (other than the fact that I can’t get Häagen Dazs salted caramel ice cream bars mailed to me) is people or companies that jump on every passing bandwagon. It’s always something: high protein, low protein, health foods, non-health foods, triple burgers, no triple burgers, fake burgers made out of veggies and strange chemicals, high fat, low fat, gluten this-or-that (except in the case of a medical condition) and all the other various and sundry fads du jour. As a food writer, I feel obligated to do some research before I knee-jerk into whatever the latest feel-good craze may be. Just because “everybody’s doing it” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s anything other than marketing hype and hearsay.
Then there are the people and companies that actually stand behind what they promote. They “walk the talk” by going the extra mile to not only practice what they preach, but also to clearly demonstrate the foundation for whatever benefits might exist; be it better taste or proven advantages to health. One of those people is Sue Ryan, proprietor of Good Earth Market & Farm in Millville and Good Earth Market in Rehoboth.
When Sue’s parents retired and moved to Bethany Beach, she visited just about every weekend. When it came time for her and her husband to retire, their plan was to simply “drop out.” That might have actually happened had it not been for Sue’s contagious enthusiasm. This woman could make you excited about an ingrown toenail! And it’s that energy that fuels the friendly and positive attitude at both locations.
Sue has trouble standing still. After establishing her Rehoboth Beach store, she decided she could make even better use of the bounty growing at the mothership location in Millville. So she added a sit-down restaurant. Patrons are invited to dine among the gardens, at inside tables or around the inviting horseshoe bar (well, maybe eventually!). On our first visit, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would they serve me a steamed grape in one of those Phô spoons? Or perhaps a piece of kale disguised as a lamb shank? Maybe a rutabaga carved to look like a club sandwich?
All doubts disappeared when I spotted longtime Cape Region chef Nino Mancari. Nino has a long history in the area, having helped to put both Sedona (Bethany) and Salt Air (Rehoboth) on the map. He has had an eventful life, and appears to have finally found a permanent home there at Good Earth. In fact, any place where Sue Ryan is would make a great permanent home.
We started with a basket of bread and butter. But this wasn't just any bread. This was bread from The Bread Whisperer himself, Keith Irwin at Old World Breads in Lewes. The minute it hit the table it was like the feeding frenzy scene from Jaws II. Shortly thereafter, Nino asked us if we wanted to start out with his roasted beet, radish, feta, greens and balsamic salad. We politely declined. But fortunately for us Nino is not good at taking “no” for an answer, and the salad arrived forthwith. It is as beautiful to look at as it was to eat. (Yes, The Rehoboth Foodie eats vegetables. Cool your jets.)
The ensuing parade of dishes included curried butternut squash bisque (with yogurt and the cutest little pepitas), snow-white burrata with acorn squash, ‘Snip Whip (yup, you guessed it, whipped parsnips) and a balsamic syrup that I could have gulped out of a wine glass. All of my silly non-meat jokes were not lost on Susan and Nino as they ganged up on us to get the crispy pork belly and that night's special, the DIY short rib tacos. The pork was properly rendered into a flavorful crispiness that enrobed layers of perfectly done bacon (which, by the way, is what pork belly is). The do-it-yourself taco kit included all the taco stuffers known to civilized society displayed on an oval platter next to warm corn tortillas. Our slightly (only slightly) more health-conscious friends ordered the pan-roasted scallops with sautéed mushrooms and chard. Chef Mancari has not lost his touch, as it had to be his idea (and a good one) to drizzle it with black garlic vinaigrette. But wait … there’s more! Out of the kitchen came one of Good Earth's signature plates: shrimp and grits with spicy chorizo. We shared. I hate sharing. I got over it.
We’ve since returned to Good Earth many times. It's refreshing to see vegans, vegetarians, carnivores and sugar-holics (not the least of which our personal trainer friend) chowing down elbow to elbow. Sadly, any discussion of good restaurants is bittersweet as the inappropriately prolonged restrictions continue to drag on to mar everyone’s dining experiences. But, troopers that they are, Sue and Nino have adapted by creating the Welcome Back Celebration Menu. Choices include those shrimp and grits, that roasted beet salad and the scallops. Brand new brunch and dinner menus are also in effect.
Good Earth Organic Market and Restaurant is located just west of Roxana Road (Route 17) on the south side of Route 26. Be careful or you'll pass it. Make reservations and check hours at 302-537-7100.