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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