By JIM WILLIS
Red Bank’s protean coffee house, No Joe’s Café, is once again trying something new.
Born in the depths of the town’s ‘Dead Bank’ phase, the Broad Street stalwart has been through a number of repositionings in recent years. It was seen most recently here on PieHole when owner Mike Tierney brought on a pastry chef after a short-lived rebranding of the place as ‘Beasty Burgers.’
Late this summer, the business underwent yet another transformation, and now the kitchen, helmed by chef Keith Genovese, is focused on churning out lunchtime staples with a new menu that features salads and sandwiches.
This one deserves to work.
PieHole paid a visit to No Joe’s last week, and with the first hint of fall in the air, we grabbed a sidewalk table and checked out the new menu.
Several interesting salads stood out, notably the poached pear with pecans and gorgonzola and the coconut chicken salad with honey mustard dressing ($10.95 each). The menu also features a large selection of wraps, subs and sandwiches.
As summer is coming to an end, eating as much as possible of the season’s dwindling tomato crop is always in the front of PieHole‘s locavore mind, so it was a tough call between the BLT and the turkey club ($7.95). We ordered a BLT. A few minutes later, however, a turkey club arrived at the table. We did a quick mental calculation – Bacon? Check; Tomato? Check –and decided not to send it back.
It wasn’t until the waiter left that we realized the sheer immensity of this sandwich: three thick slices of toast, over half a pound of turkey and a healthy dose of bacon. This would be a challenge to finish. And frankly when we see that much turkey on a sandwich for under eight bucks, we fully expect it be lower-grade, slimy, rubbery, processed turkey that comes on airline sandwiches.
Fearing the worst, we managed to pick up a piece of this behemoth sandwich and take a bite. Shockingly good turkey, moist but not overly processed, and a good layer of exceptional bacon. The bacon alone was almost good enough to compensate for the grocery store tomatoes.
PieHole is fully empathetic to the difficulties and complexities of managing a kitchen and ordering ingredients, but it is an abomination to make a sandwich of any variety in the state of New Jersey at the end of summer and fail to construct that sandwich using room-temperature slices of oozing, ripe, Jersey tomatoes.
That being said, the tomato didn’t to prevent us from stuffing our PieHole to maximum stuffitude. The sandwich was quite good, especially for the price. Alas, we were bested by its size and managed to only finish three of the four hulking, toothpicked triangles.
Also worth noting here is Genovese’s homemade potato salad. Almost worth a trip in itself.