DENTON — Colorful, tasty and vibrant foods are coming out of the kitchen at the new eatery, Earth Tones Cafe, at 5 North Third Street. This isn’t your momma’s white bread avocado toast. It is better than what one typically thinks of when they hear the words health food. These creations are designed to make you feel good, but they are moist and delicious. Half of the menu is riffing on avocado toast in savory and sweet iterations. The food uses exciting handmade sauces like romescos and gremolatas to put some zing into the flavor profile.
There are three principles in this new dining spot. They are co-owners Sean Parker and Kim Wood. The trio is rounded out with David Kuzio, executive chef. The ambience has moody jazz and burnished metal tables. The ceiling is painted black, and large windows bath the whole place in light. The flow art on the walls was created by the owners. The business isn’t open for dinner yet — just breakfast and lunch.
The first time restaurant owners are covered in tattoos and could not be any nicer. Pretension is not high on their lists.
For now they are focussed on lunch and breakfast. On Tuesday, they have a “Grab & Go” menu from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. They are open Wednesday to Friday with a full menu from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday Full Menu is open 9 a.m to 2 p.m. “Grab & Go” means coffee, plus pastries and salads in the cooler.
Parker runs Kent Liberty Tattoo. He has been tattooing for 11 years. He says the restaurant is his first job and he hustles over to Kent Liberty when he has time. He has a swallow tattooed on his skull. He is the can do back bone of the operation. He even built the kitchen.
“I am really into art. And when David starts doing his food, that is art,” said Parker.
Wood helps her mom out at the the flower shop Patti’s Petals two doors down. Wood worked at the flower store for crunch times like Mother’s Day, Valentines Day and Christmas. Growing up she learned how to work in any all hands on deck situation.
Earth Tones Cafe just came to be in August.
“We opened during Summer Fest,” said Parker. They were inundated with orders.
“We did a vegetarian and vegan sushi pop up. We killed it and everyone has been asking for sushi ever since. We are vegetarian with vegan options,” said Kuzio. So cheese and eggs are still possibilities.
“We wanted to offer something to Denton that it has never seen food wise, experience wise and coffee wise. We would like to get a lot of the younger generation in here,” said Wood.
“We went vegetarian because we wanted to be healthier. We really care about animals. It was pretty easy to switch over,” said Wood.
Can you get full and eat a vegetarian meal? Can you feel sated?
“People were coming in saying they were worried that they weren’t going to be full ordering just one plate,” said Kuzio.
“With this food, even though I feel super full, I don’t feel bad about it,” said Kuzio.
All the breads are made in house and are unlike anything you are likely to find in a grocery store.
“I have a beet and fennel loaf. A coffee and current, a carrot and turmeric and a kale and pumpkin seed. They are combined with great care like coffee and current toast going with fresh figs and goat cheese. This is a whole other level. Avocado toast is usually just white bread and guacamole,” said Kuzio.
Everything is homemade except for the Nutella and the peanut butter. He even makes a spicy romesco that goes with the egg and carrot bread toast. Romesco is a spicy Spanish sauce that is tomato based.
“It is a tomato based salsa that is thickened with bread and nuts. I wanted to keep our place mostly gluten free and nut free. So I thicken it with pumpkin seeds and sunflowers seeds in the blender. I roast all the stuff- onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers and garlic until they are all nice and soft. Then you blend and thicken it with your nuts,” said Kuzio.
Parker said that a lot of people new to this kind of menu start with something sweet. Like figs. And then the next time they come in, they try something savory as they are more comfortable with the whole concept.
“I wanted to make an egg sandwich that didn’t have cheese on it. I wanted it to be healthy, filling and full of flavor. For Summer I was making a scallion gremolata, which is just herbs and a citrus zest. I make a dressing out of it. It has got scallions, mint, parsley, garlic, oil, lemon zest and orange zest. That kicks a sandwich into a flavor explosion,” said Kuzio.
He has goals for this new restaurant and how it fits in with the community.
“This is a place for community to come and experience good healthy food. It is not pretentious. It is comfortable,” Kuzio said.
Co-owner Kim Wood said, “The whole point of this is to offer something to Denton, because there are not that many options. To walk in and feel like you are not in Caroline County for a little bit. Food can do a lot for your body. We are one of the few vegetarian and vegan places on the Eastern Shore.”
She thinks a lot of people are focused on their health. Not just for a one meal but as a lifestyle change.
This level of focus and care for every last detail of making interesting food extends to their coffee beans. They get Rival Brothers coffee out of Philadelphia. They roast their own beans and came to Denton to train the Earth Tone Cafe guys in how to make the perfect espresso, drip coffee or latte.
“We wanted it to keep with the theme of offering things that you can’t get around here. I carry medium to medium light which is what I carry around here,” she said.
Kuzio said, “They came down and showed us their recipes and how to utilize the beans properly. We are dialed into a science now. It’s a superior cup of coffee. It really is.”
This restaurant is unlike many in the area, but the level of attention and flavor profile exploration will create more local repeat customers. The food pops and the principles are friendly. They are even talking of franchising some day.