Not fancy but really good food and service.
I've been a frequent patron of NYAJ for years, starting at the Watertown location, and now more frequently at the Arlington location. I've sometimes gone at crowded times, but mostly I try to go at slow times. The bread comes with a wonderful olive oil / garlic / Parmesan cheese dipping sauce. They used to have only one or two soups on the menu, but on my last visit there were three soups, one of them an appealing soup with pureed sweet potato and chorizo sausage. The Cobb salad has lots of avocado, hard boiled egg segments, blue cheese, and greens -- one can supplement this with chicken breast, salmon, or sliced beef. There is always at least one salmon entree (often there's the balsamic glazed salmon on the regular menu and some other presentation on the specials menu). In my experience, it''s generally possible to substitute which side dishes come on the entree one has ordered, so if you want the salmon but not the rice and green beans that come with it, you can ask for the asparagus and potatoes that come with another entree. I really like it that they now offer desserts in tiny portions as well as in regular portion size.
The service is generally quite attentive. The few times when mistakes were made or the food wasn't as excellent as it usually is, when I made a comment either on their comment card or to a supervisor, there was always an effort to make up for it (once when the fruit crisp I got had a topping that was scorched, I said I didn't want to wait around for a replacement, and the supervisor insisted on giving me a take out dessert to make up for it).
I usually eat in the restaurant, but I also often get take-out from the curbside service; they include their bread and dipping sauce with the order, and they package the food very carefully (for their fruit crisp, for example, they use several little packages, one for the fruit, one for the crisp mix, one for the ice cream topping).
Avoid Take Out During Peak Hours.
I have had great experiences with Not Your Average's for fast and quality business lunches. Dinners and drinks are always excellent as well. However I have had several bad experiences with "to-go services", the worst of which was a muscle's special appetizer that was littered with broken shells and the quality was poor in general.
Note to self "Avoid Seafood Specials!" as at least in this case it seems they were trying to unload soaring product at the consumers expense.
With a lengthy menu of dependable comfort food and inventive pizzas, there's nothing average about this popular area chain..
Each Joe's location handles a steady flow of hungry families and casual couples tired of national chains' bland cuisine and soulless atmospheres. While most nights bring standing-room crowds, waiting for a table can be avoided by sitting at the bar (the better to sample from a surprisingly varied, yet affordable, wine list). Servers, while kept in constant motion by the hungry masses, manage to keep baskets of spongy focaccia filled.
While most diners come for the eclectic, stone hearth oven-baked pizzas (shrimp and artichoke, spicy "voodoo" chicken), it's a mistake to ignore the rest of the varied menu. Start with a freshly-made cobb salad; full of grilled chicken, applewood-smoked bacon, and avocado, the heaping plate is large enough for three diners. Entrees consist of casual (savory Black Angus meatloaf) and contemporary (Mediterranean salmon with balsamic tomato-caper relish) options. Mammoth desserts include kid-approved favorites like strawberry shortcake.
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