The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Pictured here, from left to right, Executive Chef Jeff Tenner, Chef Gilberto Mendes, General Manager Ken Woodrow, and Not Your Average Joe’s founder and CEO Steve Silverstein. Courtesy photo.

Not Your Average Joe’s

221 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua

Not your average dining
Bay State restaurant opens its first location in New Hampshire


Having Not Your Average Joe’s in New Hampshire has been “a long time coming,” CEO and founder Steve Silverstein said at the soft opening of the new Nashua location. The restaurant opened just before Christmas, making the Gate City location Not Your Average Joe’s 21st restaurant. 

“We’ve actually been looking into this area for a long time. We identified Nashua, New Hampshire, probably 10 years ago as a place where we wanted to open a restaurant. … We’ve had people for years telling us, ‘You have to come to Nashua,’” CEO and founder Steve Silverstein said. “It’s exciting to us; it’s the first flag in the state. That’s a big deal.”
Silverstein opened the first Not Your Average Joe’s in Massachusetts in 1994 with the intention of bringing urban cuisine to the suburbs of Boston.
“Nashua ... feels like a suburb of Boston,” Silverstein said. “From here to our Burlington store it’s only half an hour.”
Executive Chef Jeff Tenner isn’t a stranger to the Granite State, and Seacoast foodies will recognize him as the former chef and partner at Lindbergh’s Crossing and chef-owner of Ciento in Portsmouth. After Tenner left the Port City, he transitioned to the corporate side of the restaurant world, working for Legal Sea Foods, Whole Foods and Bertucci’s before coming to Not Your Average Joe’s. 
“I’m excited to be back in New Hampshire,” Tenner said. “[Silverstein’s] whole vision is this idea of bringing city-level, chef-driven food to the suburbs so you don’t have to go into the city to have that level of food service. This just feels like the kind of community that’s right for us.”
The restaurant’s menu features comfort foods, chef specials at each location, and a not-your-average twist on everything from drinks and appetizers to entrees and desserts. 
Favorite dishes include the Nacho Average Nachos (made with corn tortillas stacked in a tower dressed with chipotle-braised chicken and pepper jack cheese, cumin sour cream and avocado corn salsa), the harvest pork tenderloin (rubbed with coriander spice, grilled and served with a gingered apple chutney, chipotle sweet potato mash and maple Brussels sprouts), and the Peanut Butter Thing (a frozen ice cream pie dessert made with peanut butter and chocolate chunks in vanilla ice cream, rolled in Oreo cookie crumbs and served with whipped cream — a waiter drizzles hot chocolate and caramel sauces tableside when it arrives at the table).
“It is addictive,” Silverstein said. “Nobody has a Peanut Butter Thing. This is a creation that we came up with maybe 15 years ago. This is our number-one-selling dessert.”
“[The menu has] a lot of variety and variation. And under our classics, it’s such a great go-to section with our mushroom-crusted chicken, and our steak tips are delicious. It’s like comfort food, but just done right,” Tenner said. “Our guests love, as weird as the dish sounds, the cranberry teriyaki chicken with butternut squash cannelloni — it’s the longest title of a dish known to man — but guests love it because it’s got a great combination of sweet and savory flavors.”
Tenner also recommends the tempura-fried sushi roll, the chicken pappardelle and the lemon basil pesto-crusted flounder, but he can’t resist his two personal favorites.
“One of my go-to’s that I have for lunch too frequently, I go back and forth between two: our shrimp tacos and our Carolina pecan chicken,” he said. “Those are my lunch go-to items. Actually, I had the shrimp tacos for dinner the other night.”
In addition to the food menu, beverages include a list of 43 wines, 20 beers on tap (including some New Hampshire brews) and non-alcoholic drinks, like lime rickeys, frozen drinks and mocktails like the raspberry “nojito.” 
On the front of every menu reads, “From every corner of the globe with our local twists made from scratch in a kitchen where a chef resides,” and that’s essentially Not Your Average Joe’s mission statement, Tenner said.
“We labored over the right words to say to get the point across, to say we’re not your average chain, in the sense that we have chefs in every kitchen, we cook from scratch every day, we use great fresh ingredients, local whenever we can, and our recipes are globally inspired. Those are our guiding principles,” he said.
“We’re a chef-driven concept, we’re city-style food but in the suburbs,” Silverstein said. “Importantly for the suburbs, we’re made from scratch at affordable prices. I think we bring a unique combination. There are a lot of other concepts up here, but I don’t think anybody blended the combination of chef-driven, really modern design — this could be in the Meatpacking District of New York City — and good hospitality. That’s really the three legs that we rest on are the food, the service and the design.”
The new Nashua location features the restaurant’s new design. Silverstein described it as an industrial-chic look, which none of the other 15 Bay State locations have. It’s “the new Joe,” he said. That design includes an open-concept kitchen at the back of the restaurant, where diners can watch the chefs work. There’s also a U-shaped center bar, leather seating, exposed beams and patio seating for warmer weather.
Tuesday nights are “Not Your Average Cause” nights, when 15 percent of sales are donated to a local cause. Prior to the restaurant’s ribbon-cutting, Not Your Average Joe’s held a soft opening where instead of paying for dinner, guests made a donation to Harbor Homes. A total of $10,000 was donated to Harbor Homes at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 22. 
For the rest of January, donations collected on Tuesday nights will continue to benefit Harbor Homes, which provides housing, support and care in Nashua to combat homelessness. After January, the Nashua restaurant management and staff will select a new Not Your Average Cause to support on Tuesday nights. 
As seen in the January 22, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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