Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Not Your Average Joe’s Harvest Dinner

One of my favorite things about living near Boston is the endless food options. No matter what neighborhood you’re in, whether it’s right in the heart of the city or in one of the many suburbs, good food is all around. It’s essentially a foodie playground, and I am endlessly excited by all of the food adventures that are here for the taking.

Waltham is just one of the many outlying towns that has much to offer a hungry soul. Their popular Moody St. is a well-known destination packed with eateries, but the goodness isn’t limited to just that one location. I recently had a chance to check out one of the new establishments in the area — a brand new Not Your Average Joe’s. I will admit I’ve only been to one NYAJs before, years ago, and it wasn’t one that boasted their new concept menu and restaurant design. After my first impression, I wasn’t exactly wowed. This new Waltham location was a really different (and fresh) take on an established restaurant chain, and I was really impressed with the whole experience.

It was a bit too chilly for a meal on the outdoor patio, but I can see it being a great spot to relax with a drink and some apps in the summer.

The management team, including VP Culinary and Executive Chef Jeff Tenner, were on hand to greet us and give us a tour of the whole space — even back into the busy kitchen and prep space! Chef Tenner sat with us through dinner, fielding questions and telling us all about the restaurant, his background, and the future of NYAJs.

The awesome outdoor fire pit (so warm!) and a Grapefruit Collins, with cap rock hand-crafted organic gin, combier grapefruit liqueur, freshly squeezed lemon, and fever tree soda water.

We were treated to a delightful “tasting” menu (though you can see their full menu here), which featured a diverse range of offerings, and a whole lot of deliciousness. We even got to try a few of the seasonal offerings, which was a treat!

A look at the waiting area as you enter, which had a really lively vibe going — plenty of color and patterns against a rustic wood wall. Behind the counter they use old shoe forms to hold to-go bags!

Because the Boston area has so many great independent restaurants, I often don’t seek out places that aren’t one-of-a-kind, so I was very curious to learn what NYAJs is all about and why it’s different from other restaurant chains. Chef Tenner was extremely knowledgeable, and clearly passionate about his work, and I enjoyed learning about how he manages his menu (which changes four times a year), how he develops new recipes, and how he determines what he’ll actually feature in the restaurants.

A shot of the open kitchen, and so much focaccia waiting for consumption (this is seriously my idea of what heaven looks like).

I also really loved the layout of their new, modernized space, which has more of a rustic touch, and is deliberately open so the space feels roomy and inclusive. Even the kitchen area is completely open to the dining space, so everything is transparent.

Not Your Average Joe's Waltham - Sweetly Serendipity

Orders waiting to leave the kitchen

(1) Foccacia served with a delicious, super garlicky oil (2) Mango Shrimp Rolls with sweet chili poached shrimp, mango, cucumber, mint, cilantro, and rice noodles, served with a peanut dipping sauce (3) Deviled Eggs with sriracha, topped with togarashi spice and crush potato chips (4) Butternut Squash Flatbread with sage-pecan pesto, roasted butternut squash. shaved brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella, and balsamic reduction

(1) Buffalo Caribbean Chicken Tenders with mango-bufflo BBQ sauce and a pineapple-jalapeno salsa (2) Super Crunch Salad: grilled chicken, quinoa, green apples, pistachios, avocado, spinach, mint and cilantro in an orange-sesame dressing (3) Mustard-Crusted Chicken chicken breasts in a three-mustard marinade with panko crumbs, pan seared and served with green beans and lemon aioli (4) Vietnamese Salmon: spice rubbed and grilled, with a lime-infused chili broth, rice noodles, crunchy vegetables, and crushed peanuts

The chicken tenders were so up my alley — I could have eaten plate after plate of those. The Mustard-Crusted Chicken was also so buttery and decadent… chicken done well is really a thing of beauty. The salmon was popular around the table, and featured a very different flavor profile from other things on the menu.

(1) Cranberry-Teriyaki Roasted Chicken with house-made butternut squash ricotta cannelloni and sautéed spinach (2) Spaghetti Squash Bolognese: mushroom bolognese with roasted spaghetti squash, sautéed spinach, and grated romano cheese (3) Rosemary Skewered Scallops (from New Bedford) served over a succotash of Israeli couscous, grilled corn, baron, and tomatoes with an orange-chipotle glaze

The Cranberry-Teriyaki Roasted Chicken was from the fall menu, and I absolutely loved that dish. The sauce was unique and flavorful, the chicken expertly cooked, and the cannelloni so sinfully delicious. The Spaghetti Squash Bolognese was also a really interesting vegetarian take on a traditionally meat-heavy dish, and I thought that was super creative!

(1) Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting and caramel sauce (gluten-free) (2) Goji Berry Apple Crisp with cinnamon-spiced apples, goji berries, and ginger with a brown sugar oat crust and vanilla ice cream

Peanut Butter Thing: peanut butter and chocolate chunks folded into vanilla ice cream and rolled in oreo cookie crumbs, topped with whipped cream, hot fudge, and caramel sauce

I left this meal stuffed to the gills (that Peanut Butter Thing… holy goodness), and so delighted by the evening from start to finish. Our gracious hosts made everyone feel welcome, and the restaurant – and food – really changed my perception of what a modern “chain” restaurant can be. I can’t wait to go back and try a few more things! (And order a whole plate of chicken tenders plus a basket of focaccia for myself…)

Not Your Average Joes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thanks, NYAJs, for hosting!

 

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