Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Nestled between the old railroad tracks and the rusty trestle, in the curve of the down-sloping road, historic Robie's Country Store sits brightly. The red facade building in Hooksett has been there for more than a century, attracting presidential wannabes looking for a photo op in a quaint, classic New Hampshire locale.
Within the country store is housed Roots Cafe and Catering, opened about a year ago by husband and wife team Joshua and Amber Enright – after winning over Robie's Historic Preservation Board. The cafe focuses on local, organic, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch items, Josh said. “I had previously owned the Seedling Cafe in Nashua and Rustic Leaf in Milford, and my wife had owned Jewell and The Beanstalk in Manchester,” he said. “This is our first place together.”
Keeping alive the historic integrity of Robie's Country Store, the Enrights still have the walls covered with photos of presidential hopefuls, and multi-era memorabilia. The store features old-timey touches like the wall of candy canisters (with the modern addition of La Cascade du Chocolat's local handmade chocolates) and a whole litany of New Hampshire-made food and gifts.
As you enter – to the cacophony of jangling hanging door bells – you are transported back in time to a warmer, friendlier environment. The staff was very welcoming – all smiles, waves and shouted hellos. My friend Eric said “it felt homey and charming. It reminded me slightly of the Whistle Stop Café from 'Fried Green Tomatoes'.” Indeed, the wooden chairs, mismatched furniture, utensils and plates, the Mason jar glasses … all added up to a feeling of stepping back a few decades to a no-fuss dining experience.
Arriving around 11 a.m. on a recent Saturday, we were greeted and given menus. You order at the counter and the meals are brought to your table. The coffee is self-serve at a station offering several iterations; I especially liked the chocolate-flavored one. There's a large glass display cabinet at the ordering counter, and another near the coffee, both enticing with homemade muffins, pies and more. There are also old-fashioned soda flavors in glass bottles for sale.
We chose a unique table by the front window and decided on dishes. I got the southwest eggs benedict ($9.25; there's a whole section of bennies to choose from) – made with black beans, pico de gallo, roasted corn, avocado, cheddar jack cheese, poached eggs and sriracha, on grilled corn bread. Eric decided to try one of the chalkboard daily specials, a pulled-pork omelet. My daughter got the kids' breakfast consisting of pancakes (served with New Hampshire maple syrup), two sausage patties and scrambled eggs ($5.50). This was an incredible deal, and we ended up taking half of it home due to its size.
My meal was very tasty. I really liked the grilled corn bread, and southwest flavors are some of my favorite. Eric let me snag a bite of his omelet; we both liked the pulled pork. It's the “dry,” unsauced style that allows the meat to speak for itself. Roots also sources all its meat locally, by the way. He also raved about the chunky homemade blueberry jam. We all liked the homefries very much. My daughter liked her meal, too.
The Enrights also provide catering services, grocery shopping, meal prep, and host special event dinners. Their next such is March 16, when Roots Cafe will partner with local brewing company Swift Current Brewing for a farm-to-table dinner with beer pairing. Call to make reservations for that at 485-7761, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Feeding people is the backbone of this venture,” they say on the Roots Cafe website. “…This is your place as much as it is ours.” And you'll feel as welcome as home.
Kathleen Palmer can be reached at 594-1255, kpalmer@nashua telegraph.com or @NHFoodand Fun and @Telegraph_KathP.
Content provided by Encore, The Telegraph’s arts and entertainment, food and wine section. Editor Kathleen Palmer can be reached at 594-6403 or email@example.com. Also, follow her on Twitter (@Telegraph_KathP or @NHFoodandFun).
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