Sunday Lunch at Newk’s

Being an avid food devotee, you constantly search for not only new food options but also new establishments to check out. Living in Kentucky all my life with nearly 66% of it being in Lexington, you start to run out of avenues in which to stimulate your taste buds. The only way to break out of the monotony of local choices is either to travel or move. Since moving to Tennessee, this is one aspect in which I consider myself lucky because I now have an overabundance of new restaurants at my disposal. One of these restaurants is Newk’s Express Café.

Now I know what some of you are saying… “Hey! Newk’s is a chain!” But keep in mind that my general rule of thumb of “stay away from chain restaurants” only applies when you have never been exposed to that particular chain (such as the case with me and Jamba Juice). I’ve never seen nor heard of Newk’s. With a saturation of Subways, Paneras, Quiznos, Schlotski’s, and Atlanta Bread Companies where I’m from, I will gladly accept an opportunity to give a competitor a shot at my wallet in exchange for a tasty meal.

Newk’s is located in The Avenue “outdoor mall” in Murfreesboro off Medical Center Parkway. I believe it’s next to World Market so if you just look for that, you’ll see a smaller sign with colorful lettering reminiscent of Halloween candy. Newk’s offers two areas to dine: inside or patio.  Of course it being mid July in Tennessee, hardly anyone eats outside in this 100 degree weather. Overall, Newk’s can probably seat almost 100 people but it’s a tight fit because you find people often combine tables for seating. The front of the building is decorated with 4-top tables and progresses into half booth, longer tables, and full booths the further you walk in. On the right side of the kitchen, you’ll have your 2-station fountain drink & tea stands. Between the front doors is a circular table with condiments such as pickles, crackers, sauces, sea salt, marinated garlic, peppercorns, peppers, etc to garnish your order.

For those of you that have kept up with my Facebook page, you may already know that I’ve eaten here before. However for the sake of this blog, I tried something new. Traditionally I prefer sandwiches to salads, but the fact of the matter is I’ve been eating more meat lately than your stereotypical carnivore. But everyone knows my weakness is meat, so I decided to get a salad that had a little bit in it.

I ordered the Black & Bleu salad with a nice dessert of a 2 inch cube Rice Krispie Treat & Haley ordered a chicken salad sandwich (which she boasts is the best she’s ever had) and a side salad. Since orders are made “fresh to order”, they give you a number in which you place on a stand located at each table. We received our order in about 8 or so minutes.

The Black & Bleu salad is described as “mixed greens, grilled steak, gorgonzola cheese, pecans, tomatoes and sliced red onion tossed with bleu cheese dressing”. The dressing was nice & creamy with little bits of the slightly sour bleu cheese blended within. The tomatoes were plump and the onions crisp. The pecans however, were tiny chunks (rather than halves/quartered/whole) so that made for an interrupting experience when I would get a chunk stuck in my molars.  Despite the taste of the dressing, I should have gotten my dressing on the side. The reason for this (a tip given to me by Haley) is that at restaurants, salads with dressings are usually pre-mixed. Over time, the lettuce starts to get soggy and it’s like eating flavored, wet paper. If you get the dressing on the side, then you have the option of having your vegetables stay crispy as well as reducing the amount of dressing used (another pro for you health nuts). As for the steak, it was “well done” thinly sliced strips of steak. The steak I’m used to in this kind of salad are chunks of sirloin that are cooked to order, but at least I got a good amount of these strips in my salad. Last but not least, the Rice Krispie Treat was a delectable experience (a perfect balance of crispness from the rice, buttery texture from the butter, and sweetness from the marshmallows). I’ve always loved Rice Krispie Treats that are made fresh (not that packaged stuff that you get from Little Debbie).

Overall, I like Newk’s more than your standard soup/sandwich/salad fare because Newk’s food seems to have more flavor. Despite the negative aspects of my salad, I really enjoyed it and if I were to order it again, I would just adjust it accordingly. For those of you that have been, do you prefer the salad or sandwiches?

Newk’s Express Café
2615 Medical Center Pkwy, Suite 2560
(615) 494-1979

Bill Total: $20 For Two

Newk's Express Cafe on Urbanspoon

Food:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 
Service:4.0/5.0 ★★★★☆ 
Atmosphere:3.0/5.0 ★★★☆☆ 
Price:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 
Overall:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 

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