A new Leaf
From Seedling to Bistro, Nashua restaurateurs evolve
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rustic Leaf Bistro has opened in Milford, and its name is symbolic to owners Joshua and Danielle Enright. This new spot is a natural evolution from their former restaurant, the Seedling Café in Nashua, just as a seedling grows to sprout leaves.
“We say ‘from seed to plate,’ and that’s how we chose this name,” Joshua said. “We want people to know we are putting just as much into what we do here as we did in Nashua.”
The Enrights made the move to the new location so Joshua could expand his menu to include dinners. In Nashua he held harvest dinners every season, but nightly dinners weren’t possible due to the kitchen’s limits — primarily the all-electric appliances.
“During work at the Seedling, I would think of dinner items, so I had the menu pretty much set when we came here,” Joshua said. “I wanted to be more creative. Expand the mind beyond wraps, soups and salads, but stay with the theme of local and organic.”
The restaurant uses as many local products as possible. The coffee comes from A & E Roastery in neighboring Amherst, and the bread is from The Good Loaf down the road in Milford. The eggs are from the Enrights’ own chickens, and the produce is from local farmers and is primarily organic. Joshua has made arrangements with a few farmers to grow specialty items just for the restaurant. And he noted that the use of local ingredients helps to limit costs since the products don’t have to be shipped across the country.
The Enrights fell in love with the new location the minute they saw it. Formerly the French Bistro, the restaurant was in a train caboose that the former owner rescued and moved to Milford. However, its uniqueness also proved to be the first challenge. The caboose only seats 28. So the dining area was expanded into the attached house. Lunch is served in the caboose and dinner in the new space, which seats 65.
The lunch menu harkens back to the Seedling fare, with soups, salads and wraps, but Joshua has added a selection of lunch entrees. This first menu features mac and goat cheese with sun-dried tomatoes, peas and spinach; pan-seared rainbow trout with butternut pumpkin risotto and roasted root vegetables; butternut squash ravioli with a butternut-apple cider reduction; roasted herbed chicken with smashed red potatoes; butternut squash risotto; and buffalo meatloaf with smashed red potatoes.
The entrees on the dinner menu are divided into sections: vegetarian, chicken, fish and pork (no beef, though Joshua may consider adding it at a later date). Highlights include herbed polenta with roasted Portobello mushrooms; walnut-encrusted chicken with butternut sweet potato and a spiced apple butter sauce; chardonnay poached salmon with an organic quinoa mix; and grilled pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes and a fruit chutney.
After five years in Nashua, it was hard for the Enrights to sell the Seedling Café, but they thought it was a better option than outright closing the restaurant. At the Rustic Leaf, Joshua said, “Our motto is to keep it simple, rustic and moderately priced. We want to make organic and local food available to everyone.”