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Jul 25, 2014 02:10 PM

Not Your Average Joe's -- Glen Mills

I browsed through Open Table last night, looking for an idea for dinner, and came across a listing for this new spot in Glen Mills. After checking the menu and their website I resumed my search on Open Table simply because from everything I saw it resembled a chain, and I make a habit of keeping clear of chain restaurants. But nothing else was grabbing me so I made the reservation for NYAJ.

The place was buzzing when we arrived at 7:30, with quite a few people waiting outside for a table and more waiting at the bar. We checked in and were told that a couple of tables were being bussed and we'd be seated shortly. After about 5 minutes a man came over to where we were waiting, asked us if we were the CindyJs, welcomed us to the restaurant, and introduced himself as Steve. He apologized for the wait and assured us that our table would be ready in a minute. Sure enough, we were seated just then. I assume that the Steve who introduced himself is the same Steve referred to on the menu as the "founder" of the restaurant.

The menu is a wide selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts -- kind of on par with the selections you might find at Applebees -- but not really. By that I mean it looked like more thought was put into the menu items than I would have expected. Our server came over with fresh focaccia and proceeded to prepare a mixture of olive oil, grated pecorino cheese, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes for dipping. He told us that everything on the menu is prepared fresh to order and said they'd try to accommodate any special requests. He also offered us a gluten-free menu.

Anti-chain snob that I am, I really didn't want to like this place. But ya know what...? I enjoyed my meal and so did my husband. I ordered the mustard-crusted chicken, which was served with smashed potatoes and REAL, nicely cooked green beans. My husband ordered the ahi tuna salad which was very nicely prepared and presented. Bottom line... NYAJ exceeded our expectations. That said, I don't know that I'd hurry back because, well, I just have this "thing" about chain restaurants. :-)

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  1. Thanks for the review CindyJ. A location of NYAJ is opening very close to my house, and while I too tend to avoid chain restaurants, I'm looking forward to the possibility that another "decent" restaurant is coming to the area. Thanks!

    1. NYAJ is not "really" a chain restaurant.It's based in Boston area (that's why I don't think "Steve" was the owner) where they have 7 (?) locations. Glen Mills and one in maryland are new. we love it in Somerville MA and 4 years ago I told the manager about my neighborhood (Ardmore) that is very fancy and has no good restaurants ... so that's why NYAJ is opening in Suburban Square in Aug! It is def higher quality ingredients/ seasonal dishes. I would not at all compare it to Applebees...the veggies are fresh, stir-fried nicely. In Boston they have a dessert taste plate that is great --we've eaten fresh fish there many times. Can't wait for NYAJ in my neighborhood!!

      5 Replies
      1. re: elmom

        I guess it depends on your definition of "chain restaurant." With 15 locations in MA and several others in other states, I'd consider NYAJ a chain.

        1. re: elmom

          In chain comparisons it sounds a lot more like Seasons 52. According to their website they have 15 locations in MA alons, along with locations in VA, MD, RI and PA.

          Let's hope they can do well, keep the quality up and make it a fun place to dine.

          1. re: elmom

            Today's NY Times has an article about Legal Sea Foods not wanting to be considered a chain. Despite their argument, I still consider it a chain.

            1. re: CindyJ

              Any restaurant that has locations in airports (as Legal Sea Foods does) is most definitely a chain in my book.

              1. re: CindyJ

                They are a chain. A pretty good chain, but a chain nonetheless.

            2. We ate there yesterday for lunch - I was really impressed! The focaccia and dipping oil were delicious, and my dad was well on his way to hogging the entire basket before I called him out on it. His Cobb salad, my mom's French onion soup and chicken/mozzarella/tomato sandwich, and my bacon cheeseburger were all well prepared, and the portions were huge. Service was good, though we didn't get as much of an orientation to the restaurant's philosophy of making everything from scratch as the table behind me (different server).

              We will definitely go back... though the one thing I am both happy and sad about is the kids' menu. They had two additional options (sirloin tips and salmon - both $12, not much less than the adult meal) as well as the standard fare of chicken fingers, grilled cheese, buttered noodles, etc. We often let our 4yo order off the regular menu so he can get something interesting and not fried; I bet there are other entrees on their menu that they could reasonably scale back for kids.

              1. Glad to hear you liked it Cindy! I have not tried it yet, but my wife and a friend went there for lunch and both thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

                Yes, a chain.....but at lest one who seems to care. Maybe the New kid is getting the attention ATM, but enjoy it while we can! ( And hopefully it will remain!)

                1. We were back for a second visit a week or so ago. My husband was happy enough with his dinner, but I can't say the same. What was I thinking...??? I ordered chicken enchiladas. Here we are, an easy drive from several truly authentic Mexican restaurants, and I order enchiladas at an all-American chain. This is going to sound like a "schtick" from some bad stand-up comic's routine, but my take on the dish was that it just wasn't good, and there was not enough of it. In other words, there was barely a spoonful of chicken filling in each enchilada, but more would not have made it better. The enchiladas were swimming in a creamy sauce, which was not what I was expecting -- MY fault for not paying closer attention to the "poblano crema" on the menu description.

                  But now for the redemption -- when the server came to ask if everything was okay, I did something I rarely (RARELY!) do -- I told her I wasn't happy with my selection, mentioning that there was hardly any chicken in them. She whisked my plate away and came back a minute later saying the chef had just fired up a new serving for me, it would be stuffed full with chicken, and it would be out shortly. I felt like such a whiner when I asked her if she could have them stop the preparation of the new dish because I really didn't want it. This server was a champ -- she asked if I'd like something else instead, gave me a menu, and said they'd be happy to wrap the new enchiladas for me to take home, no charge for them, of course. I didn't want the enchiladas to take home, and told her so right away. I ordered a bowl of soup and a small salad, and was very happy. When we had finished our meal, the manager came over, said he was sorry about the enchiladas, and said he was comping my soup and salad.

                  To me, that's service that far exceeded my expectations, and yes, we'll go back again.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CindyJ

                    In a word...............WOW! That has to be the best Customer Service story I have heard in a long time.

                    If they take that much care in making sure their folks are satisfied, I suspect that philosophy will carry over to the kitchen.

                    Moves them up a couple of notches on the "to try" list