Monday, July 26, 2010

Not Your Average Joe's Summer's Best Fest Review

I am so excited to review the Not Your Average Joe's Summer's Best Fest! Last year with a 6 month old baby, I missed it unfortunately. I didn't let it get away this time! If you like supporting local farmers and fishermen and you need a break from homemade meals, this is the place to be this summer! As some of my readers may know, I am a huge Not Your Average Joe's fan (see my review). They are a pretty small chain and they sure stand out with a fully customizable menu (great for people with allergies, on a diet, etc.). My husband and I had the pleasure of dining in Newburyport and here are some fabulous eats from their Summer's Best Fest.

To start out we devoured the freshly baked bread with olive oil, cheese, garlic, and hot peppers (below). It's their 'standard' starter, but by far my favorite among all the restaurants I've been to. Just make sure everyone eats it because they're generous with garlic! We also sampled the two local wines from Nantucket Vineyard. I'm not a wine expert, not even a novice, but these were good. My preference drew toward the Syrah/merlot, Sailor's Delight and my husband really enjoyed the Pinot Gris (2008).

The Rhode Island Style Calamari was an amazing appetizer (below). It's not just Rhode Island style, it is from Point Judith in Rhode Island. If you're not into spicy food I would skip it though. By the way, it is huge! I'd say it is enough to share as an appetizer for at least two people. It was lightly fried, no dripping oil, nice and dry. So you're fooled because you don't feel like you're eating something fried. My husband ordered the classic Clam Chowder which did not disappoint (second photo below). Thankfully it came with oyster crackers that were baked in Vermont and had basic, pronounceable ingredients.

There were four local entrees to choose from. We settled on the Lobster Roll and the Seafood Fisherman's Platter. When all the food was on our table we realized we outdone ourselves on ordering fried food. I'm glad it wasn't greasy though, done just right. The Lobster Roll is outstanding and just the right size (photo below). While it does pair well with kettle chips, I did wish I got something else on the side, which you can of course. You can ask them to substitute it with any other side you prefer. Perfect lobster on a perfect brioche roll with a perfect combination of crunchy veggies...uh, I want another one, now.

The Seafood Fisherman's Platter wasn't as fried as it looks either (below). Not the healthiest way to eat your seafood, but one of the most delicious! It's alright to ignore your healthy conscience once in a while. The New Bedford scallops were perfection itself! As I took a bite smothered with the malt vinegar aioli, I knew why we ordered it. The aioli was a work of art, with just the right amount of dill for a seamless combination with the seafood flavor. The haddock - flaky, soft, flavorful. Any fish would be envious of how this one was treated.

While most of what we ordered featured local seafood, there were other entree options that also included some local produce as well. The menu varies by location and you may find locally brewed beer, cocktail with local berries, and local cheeses/dairy incorporated into entrees. There weren't any local desserts though at the time of our visit, so we finished off with our favorite, the Molten Chocolate Cake. We got another one for grandma (sans creme glacee) as a thank you for staying with our daughter so we can finally have a date with my husband! I'll just say that it was tempting to lick the plate, the chocolate is unbelievable!

While my marketing major husband pointed out the clever marketing for the Summer's Best Fest, I insisted that the folks at Not Your Average Joe’s are genuinely interested in supporting local farmers and fishermen. Besides, it just makes sense. Why get all your ingredients trucked in from hundreds of miles away when there are some spectacular things brewing in season right next door? Though it may be a trend, it sure is a nice one. I hope more restaurants follow suit not only to appeal to today’s patrons, but to support local agriculture and a more sustainable hospitality industry.

PS: This place is very kid friendly, so don't worry about lugging along your infant or toddler, we have done that on several occasions. This was our first time dining alone though! :)

Disclaimer: Thank you to NYAJ's for providing a gift card for the purpose of writing the Summer's Best Fest review.

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