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And our desserts had us bouncing around like six-year-olds badly in need of our next dose of Ritalin. Although the sweet-potato crunch ($1.25) is also available as a side dish, its unbelievable sugary sweetness--compounded by the natural sweetness of the cooked-to-pudding-consistency sweet potatoes and the crumbly, buttery topping--might make it impossible to continue with the rest of a meal. But as a dessert it was so good that we found it difficult to focus on the chocolate fudge cake ($2.99)--which Brian proudly told us was a blue-ribbon winner in a contest back home--and the chocolate eclair ($2.49), which Sonda makes entirely from scratch. Both were deserving of our attention, the sort of confections that had us groaning with ecstasy and longing for more.
But since we'd already stuffed ourselves to the limit, we had no choice but to wait for our return visit to give NoNo's another taste test. This time the place was a lot busier, which slowed the kitchen down, and our waitress seemed to have a tough time handling our party of eight. But the food held up. We started with the maque crawfish dip ($4.49), a hot, dribbly mess of onions, bell peppers, garlic and cheese served with Town House crackers. The dip was so messy that the crackers weren't an ideal choice, but our main complaint was that we'd received only eight of them, hardly enough to handle the dip. We almost had to send up a flare in order to get our busy waitress to secure some more, and by the time the extra crackers arrived, the dip had cooled. Our drinks weren't replenished until after we had passed the point of irritation, and the timing between courses was a little off.
But the courses themselves were not. We started with a cup of concentrated oyster-and-artichoke soup ($1.99) and a standard salad ($2.49) that came with a far from standard, impressively rich blue-cheese dressing. The lasagne ($8.49) was a real standout, a large rectangle of lasagne noodles sandwiching whipped ricotta cheese flecked with basil and oregano, all of it coated with NoNo's spicy, meat-based red sauce (a vegetarian version is also offered) and covered with melted mozzarella. The excellent blackened fish ($8.99) turned out to be catfish--information the waitress should have provided--and this cat got our tongues in a big way with its freshness and fiery seasonings. Mellow dirty rice and tomatoes vinaigrette, with slices of the love apple drenched in a mild dressing and sprinkled with fresh herbs, rounded out the plate. Two other entrees were good, if not quite as heavenly. The flank steak Terese ($8.45) carried a little too much salty soy, but the meat had been nicely cooked and came with those exceptional creamed potatoes and a side of fresh green peas. And the jambalaya ($7.49), while an admirable combination of good-quality sausage, chicken and rice, was on the dry side--not so dry, though, that we didn't scrape our dish clean.
3005 W. County Line
Littleton, CO 80122
Region: Southeast Denver Suburbs
The only dessert offered that night that we hadn't already tried was the carrot cake ($2.95)--yet another delicious interpretation.
More chains? No.
NoNo's Cafe, 311 East County Line Road, Littleton, 738-8330.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.