Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Newk's Express Cafe in Jackson, MS

I know, I know. What's with all the chains lately? While it's true I try to highlight unique places, consider the following: 1. Success in any industry is a struggle, especially the food business. When you have something great, it's easy to ask, 'Why reinvent the wheel?' 2. Lots of chains offer nutritional info, so you know what you're eating. 3. Sometimes it's worth taking a second look at a place you thought you knew.

Enter Newk's Express Cafe. Foodies take notice! Though Newk's dots the Jackson, MS, landscape like spots on a dalmatian, their refined take on cafe flavors and ample opportunities to customize will have you writing Newk's corporate to request a location near you.

I probably wouldn't have found Newk's Express Cafe if not for a Xeroxed menu tucked into our hotel check-in paperwork, but for three days I read the menu, wondering if I went what I would order. Don't laugh! More home cooks should make a hobby of menu reading. There's no copyright violation in stealing a genius idea like combining brie and apricot jam. Or chocolate and almost anything.

When we finally got to Newk's, I knew I'd order either the Chicken Salad Sandwich with grapes and pecans, the Vegetarian Club with roasted peppers and goat cheese, or the Shrimp Po'Boy with broiled shrimp and cocktail sauce on the side. I thought I had it all figured out, but I had no idea. After I ordered my Chicken Salad half sandwich with an ample half-portion of Lobster and Crab Bisque, the gal taking my order pointed to a stand that reminded me of a mini olive bar. Impressive glass jars were filled with capers, awesome sweet pickles, fresh grated parmesan, whole cloves of roasted garlic and a lot more. They even had my favorite hot sauce! The best part? The gal behind the counter said I could have as much as I wanted!

So I sipped my rich bisque (sprinkled liberally with fresh parmesan), and I ate my sandwich on its crusty, chewy loaf, all the while popping garlic cloves between bites. Translation: It was darn near a perfect meal. For me anyway. But that's the point! There are so many yummy, high end condiments and accoutrements at Newk's Express Cafe, whatever you order can be darn near perfect for you too.

I could wax poetic about how fun it was to tweak and re-tweak my meal, the tang of the bisque (kissed with essence of ocean from the lobster and crab), or how I have never ever tasted roast beef that tender, but the bottom line is that sometimes something worth doing is worth doing twice, or thrice, or more!

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