I've always considered "Not Your Average Joe's" a reliable restaurant. I'm glad that one is conveniently in Arlington center (MA). But I was pleasantly surprised by the creativity and flair they are now showing in their "Local Fest" menu, featured in August. I stopped in for lunch one day last week.
Often chefs will make a nod toward use of local ingredients, by offering them in one or two appetizers and entrees. The "Local Fest Menu" at NYAJ's is a full menu, offered in addition to their regular menu. Not only food, but excellent local craft beer (on draft) and wines are featured.
I was tempted to try the locally harvested Semolina Scallops entree. After much deliberation I opted for the Smoked Chicken with Succotash and Polenta when I saw that the chicken was from the Smokehouse in Roxbury. This camera-phone shot doesn't do the dish justice - the meat was juicy, tender and very flavorful, permeated by a smoky taste, but not to excess. The innovative take on succotash worked well, incorporating tiny tomatoes just as tasty as they should be in mid-August along with a flavorful green. The polenta was also quite good, and perfectly cooked. In addition to the Cisco "Sankaty Light" lager, other local beers were available, including the Wachusett "Blueberry Ale".
The chefs at NYAJ's have risen above and beyond in the challenge to showcase local bounty. One can only hope that this will become a regular feature of the menu. Bravo!