Not Your Average Joe’s opened in the new Market Basket Complex in Waltham, MA last month.
A few weeks ago I joined some bloggers and Not Your Average Joe’s (NYAJ) Executive Chef Jeff Tenner for an introduction into the future of this local chain.
Although NYAJ’s is quite a large chain, they consider themselves, and try to run their restaurants, as if they are smaller independent establishments. For example, the shoe horn to-go order hangers (above), well those are a nod to the Clark’s headquarters that will be opening in the complex in the future.
The Waltham location is one of just a couple new locations that portray the future of the chain. The chain is moving towards a more open concept where families can come dine and friends can meet up at the bar to grab some drinks (and 1/2 price apps Monday – Friday 3pm – 6pm). The result is an atmosphere that is clean, fun, approachable and comfortable.
But on to the good stuff…the food! We were delivered a feast this evening, and the general manager, Ralph Vitiello, was incredibly careful with accommodating my dairy allergy, and gave me a cheater menu of the evenings meal so I knew exactly what I could and couldn’t have. Because everything in the restaurant is made to order, they were able to cater to me for most of the dishes…unfortunately not for the hand-cut chicken fingers though, which looked INCREDIBLE!
But that was okay, because I was able to try the deviled eggs, one of my favorite foods, and a food way too many restaurants neglect. This version improved on the original by kicking it up with sriracha spice and packing a punch with crumbled potato chips. It was perfect.
The Super Crunch Salad is a salad that eats like a meal. A delicious, creative meal that does not taste like it came from a chain restaurant.
The Mustard-Crusted Chicken was a dish they had to alter a bit for me. I missed out on the mashed potatoes, which I heard were something I wouldn’t want to miss, and my green beans were blanched instead of tossed in the buttery, garlicy mix they are traditionally served in. Sure, I was sad I didn’t get to eat those delicious things, but this dish was still outstanding. The chicken has long been one of my favorite chickens in the area, and it still is.
However, I have a new dish, and it is a dish that would actually have me craving a visit to Not Your Average Joe’s. The Vietnamese Salmon is spice rubbed on top of rice noodles in a lime-infused chili broth with crunchy vegetables and crushed peanuts. The description didn’t do it for me, and I was actually planning to skip this dish. But, I didn’t and it is now one of my favorite things I have eaten in quite a while. And I am completely shocked to say that about a seafood dish from a chain restaurant.
I was completely pleasantly surprised by this meal. I also enjoyed learning that the menu changes quarterly to remain seasonal. About 6 – 10 dishes will rotate. They also source local products as much as possible. Not many chains can say that. You won me over NYAJ’s. I’ll be back, get your salmon ready!