Monday, January 2, 2017

Not Your Average Joe's

561 Glen Eagle Square
Glen Mills, PA 19342
(610) 500-2222

I was asked to check out Not Your Average Joe's recently, and though I had never heard of it, I figured it was worth a shot. It is a small chain that has locations in Glen Mills and Ardmore locally. Surprisingly it was not too far out of the typical Philly Phoodie price range, and they had a craft beer selection to rival most independent eateries.

I chose to sit in the bar area, as I feel most comfortable around a lot of liquor. There were a number of TV's around with sports on, but it didn't feel like a "sports bar".

They offer a seasonal menu along with a standard menu that has some entrees, and a lot of options like pizza and sandwiches.

Check out the local draft list.

The GM Stephen asked if I had tried some of the drafts, and immediately brought out some of his favorites. He was extremely knowledgeable on beer and food, and all around a great guy. A breath of fresh air from some of the places I have been invited.

Many chains are known for their free starters. This was one of the best. Onion focaccia bread, with a spiced olive oil and cheese dip. Diet food this was not. I think I ate the whole basket.

Incredible garlic flavor in the oil and wonderfully caramelized onion on the bread.

The first thing I tried was the bacon-leek flatbread. This boasted applewood smoked bacon, melted leeks and blue cheese, finished with Romano cheese and marinated tomatoes. It was quite tasty, though it was my second favorite flatbread of the evening.

The bacon was crispy, the leeks were tender and sweet, and the blue cheese had just enough funk going on. Also, the crust on this was very thin, and crisped up perfectly.

The OTHER flatbread was butternut squash-based. Now butternut squash is not one of my favorite things. In fact, I generally avoid it. But I happened to love this offering. A thin and crispy base topped with sage-pecan pesto, roasted butternut squash, shaved brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella and balsamic reduction. The smoked mozz and sweet tart balsamic were in harmony with the shaved sprouts (which cut the bitterness) and the natural sugar in the squash. I really liked this one.

Look at how thin that crust is.

As if by joke, I was informed the next courses were coming out. I was at the point where a more intelligent person would say, "thank you for the great food, but I am totally stuffed". Luckily(?), I am not that kind of person. I proceeded to do my damnedest to attempt to plow through THREE entrees.

First up, and reigning champion, was the Molasses braised pork shank. I am always a sucker for any kind of shank. Except you know, the prison kind. The shank was slow cooked, served over smoked gouda white-corn polenta with a tart apple relish. This meat was so tender and well rendered, it just pulled off the bone with a gentle nudge from my fork. At $20, it is a STEAL. The smoked gouda (one of my favorites) gave the polenta the fat and flavor so often missing, and the tart pickled apples and red onions cut through their heavier counterparts, adding some "pop".

Look at the crust.

Perfectly pulled off the shank.

The Harvest Mac and Cheese was an insane bowl of smoked mozzarella and pepperjack cheese sauce with roasted butternut squash, roasted mushrooms, pulled chicken, spinach and cavatappi pasta, topped with asiago bread crumbs. This was likely a meal for two on its own. I really liked the bread crumbs, but it was probably my least favorite dish of the night. This might have been because I ate approximately 5,000 calories before it got to me, or because it was outshone by the other dishes.

It was by no means bad, it was just kind of heavy, one note, and maybe lacking a bit of the cheesey roux that mac and cheese conjures up. It was more of a chicken pasta bowl maybe?

Are you feeling full yet? Because we are about halfway there. The Mustard Crusted Chicken didn't seem like much on paper, but it had that "it" factor that made it work, and quite well. Featuring pan-seared chicken in a three-mustard marinade and panko crumbs served with green beans, garlic mashed potatoes and lemon aioli, this could have easily been dry or bland. I mean we are talking about chicken breast and mashed potatoes. This was anything but. The mustard marinade added some tang, and must have helped keep the chicken breast moist (also the kitchen knew what they were doing, thanks Jose), because this was a great WHITE MEAT CHICKEN BREAST. Yes, I said it. I am a thigh man in general, but this was an exception. The lemon aioli was bright and acidic, which helped to make this potentially heavy dish light(ish).

Check that crust. Not very photogenic, but delicious nonetheless.

At this point I was about to nap, but they heard me mention my affinity for both wings and pizza, and out came a dessert Buffalo Chicken Pizza. This one had crispy chicken tenders tossed in  mango-buffalo barbeque sauce with mozzarella, scallions and blue cheese dressing. It was different than the flatbreads from the appetizer menu. And my second favorite dish of the night (behind the pork shank, maybe). The sauce was sweet, spicy, and smokey, the blue cheese was cool and together they formed a sauce to be reckoned with. I would eat those crispy tenders on any occasion.

The crust was super thin, and light. I was shocked such good pizza came from a chain that didn't even specialize in pizza. Though the attention to detail and care put into the other dishes should have been an indicator.

To add insult to gluttonous injury, I was told I could not leave without trying dessert. This was like delicious torture. I was a victim of deliciousness. The Peanut Butter Thing, their signature dessert is peanut butter and chocolate chunks folded into vanilla ice cream and rolled in oreo cookie crumbs, topped with fresh whipped cream and drizzled with hot chocolate and caramel sauces tableside. See below for tableside saucing.

I thought, well I will just take a few bites to be polite. I couldn't possibly eat anything more.

And then I finished the damn thing. Seriously. It was heaven on a plate. Everything sweet I love in this world mixed together. Holy hell.

I did not pay for my meal, which should be apparent above. But I would gladly part with my own money if I were in the area looking for somewhere to eat again. The prices were right, the food was on point, and it is unfair to other chains to call it a chain restaurant. It is leaps and bounds above its competition. It's like they took all of the comforting parts of chain dining (large portions, reasonable prices, approachable food) and made it actually good. 

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