The no name restaurant
The New Yorker magazine has two restaurant reviews every week. Most are eateries tucked into some obscure side street in Brooklyn, frequented by very hipster locals.
Mary and Linda are two dear friends that I have known for more than 35 years. We used to meet once a month for lunch at some of the area’s best restaurants.
It was a way to maintain a valuable friendship as well as explore what Syracuse and its surrounding offered in the way of great eating. As any of us and we can regale you with tales of tasty dishes from Asti’s on North Salina Street to a little Greek restaurant with only three tables run by the grandmother and her grandsons on Warren .
Time and life intervened and the monthly gatherings morphed into now and then visits to one another’s homes, mostly during or after some crisis in one of our lives.
The last time we met was at my house.
I was recuperating from hip and leg surgeries that had left me with limited mobility. But lunch was always an option and so, I ordered in.
More specifically I ventured out to one of Marcellus’s best kept secrets, the restaurant with no tables or a name located in the back of Nojaim’s supermarket.
I have to admit that although this café has existed for more than 16 years, my awareness was what might be described as vague.
I knew that Nojaim’s has a deli counter that served not only sliced meats and cheeses but also prepared salads. I was woefully unknowing.
It was during a month-long hospital stay that awareness began. My spouse, whose cooking ability is limited to toast and friend eggs, was eating quite well while I wasn’t.
His rapturous descriptions of cheesy ziti, shepherd’s pie and chicken pot pie were mystifying. Was there another woman in his life?
Turns out there were two. Lori and Niki who are the cooks behind most of the eclectic menu that Nojaims offers in its no name café.
Seems like my spouse was not alone in his preference for Nojaim’s.
The parade of dining out customers begins around 10:45 a.m. on weekdays.
Workers from the water authority, the county garage, village and town employees and now that school has started, teachers, come to choose from an enormous selection of hot and cold items that include fried and baked chicken, potatoes, goulash, shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, wraps, meat loaf and mashed potatoes, beef stroganoff, pot roast, jambalaya, home made chicken salad, seafood salad…so many choices.
It is not unusual to see someone who looks a lot like me, hanging around the beef section of the meat case, eyeing the crispy fried chicken and telling myself that it will be OK for me to purchase rather than make my own lunch.
Lori Leggett, whose cooking skills make many of the offerings possible including the home baked bread, rolls and nut free cookies, says that they can take orders for most of what they serve.
As an example, the chicken pot pie can be ordered to go or to be taken out frozen to store and bake at a later time.
Lori and the staff can also prepare meat, veggie and sandwich trays to go.
Lori says that their reputation for good food is spreading.
“It is not unusual to get a phone call from someone in Auburn or Syracuse asking about our chicken salad,” sehs aid.
Homemade donuts are an option too.
At times, our unnamed restaurant also has the intimacy of an old-fashioned coffee house, let’s say on some back street in Paris. On Sunday morning, the no name restaurant is home to groups of gentlemen who enjoy free coffee and donuts while discussing and solving some of the world’s knottiest problems.
Our boulevardiers have petitioned Lori to provide them with table and chairs for their colloquy. I would consider joining the conversation but the calorie count of the donuts will destroy any attempt I have at losing weight. Besides I am just too opinionated.
And so, it was on this specific day when my friends came to call, that I produced a luncheon with a sumptuous chicken pot pie, a side of fruit salad and another “salad” called “Oreo delight” as dessert.
My friends were impressed.
So much impressed that both stopped at Nojaim’s and ordered chicken pot pies to take home and freeze.
So, New Yorker magazine with your restaurant reviews of those out of the way, known only to the few cognoscenti, restaurants.
Eat your heart out. We have Nojaim’s.