The Hippo


Oct 16, 2019








The Clean Take’s fennel and garlic pork roast with organic potato pancakes, roasted Brussels sprouts and organic salad. Courtesy photo.

The Clean Take

Where: In the alley behind 55 N. Main St., Suite B, Concord
Call: 715-1496

Wholesome convenience
Concord eatery makes to-go dinners and more

By Allie Ginwala

Across from Durin Garage in the Capital Plaza, tucked behind Main Street on the Warren Street side, sits downtown Concord’s newest eatery, The Clean Take. The locally sourced, whole-ingredient kitchen features a potpourri of culinary delights — healthy snacks, baked goods, take-and-bake dinners, hot dinners and, come January, a coffee bar.

“This has been a conceptual thing of mine for almost 15 years,” owner Jane Van Dusen said of the eatery that’s been open for six weeks. 
Inspired by the nation’s overall health issues, her experience as the mom of two children (one of whom now works with her at The Clean Take) and her value of food that stemmed from growing up a farmer’s daughter, Van Dusen wanted to create a business that provided people with whole-ingredient meals to take home. 
“I want it to be healthy and convenient, and I think it’s possible,” she said. 
When she first came into the kitchen at 55 N. Main St. (formerly the Soup Gallery) her plan was to develop and then distribute her own food line of granola, kale chips, kombucha, yogurt and gluten-free bakery items. 
“But I was so charmed by the space and by the possibility and by this idea that had kind of been cooking in my brain for such a long time,” she said. “It occurred [to me] to put two and two together.”
Patrons have two options for dinner from The Clean Take: they can come in, grab the night’s entree and bake it at home or place an order in advance to have the entree hot and ready to go. Van Dusen’s menu at this point has been “relatively hodge podge,” she said, noting that the unseasonably warm weather affected her planned menu of soups and stews. After the official grand opening in mid-January, she’ll settle into a schedule of serving the same entree each night, Tuesday through Friday. 
“We’re going to have one thing that’s consistent,” she said, so those who really like the beef brisket, pulled pork or chicken pot pie know when they can get it. “I will rotate other items and those will probably be decided upon based on what’s available to me.”
In order to do everything she does really well, Van Dusen plans to keep the menu limited to three or four items per day, ideally with a vegetarian, gluten-free and meat entree option.
On a recent Friday afternoon, she was busy preparing that evening’s main entree: a fennel and garlic crusted pork roast. She also made two types of flaky crust, hand-held “pop tarts,” one with tomato, arugula and mozzarella and the other pear, walnut and bleu cheese. 
“I make my crust with butter and not with Crisco because that’s gross,” she said.
Being a “whole ingredient” business rather than simply “healthy” is a defining factor for Van Dusen, since the latter term can have multiple definitions depending on who you ask. 
“I use whole ingredients. I make food from food,” she said. “I like to use certain organic ingredients simply because they’re much, much better. I would much rather use bacon fat than a hydrogenated oil product. And I’ll tell people, I put bacon in stuff because to me it’s better for you than something that’s been messed with.” 
Having lived in both New York state and Wisconsin growing up, Van Dusen was strongly influenced by farms and wants to do her part to support family farms and give locals the chance to enjoy whole-ingredient, homemade meals.
“I’d really like to be seen as somebody’s backup kitchen,” she said. 
So what’s next for The Clean Take? Van Dusen said the grand opening in January will coincide with the opening of the coffee bar, what she describes as a “little coffee speakeasy.”
“We want people to be able to duck in and have a 15-minute break … and perhaps see what’s for dinner in the evening,” she said. 

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