With Cajun on the brain this week, I made a run down to Littleton for NoNo's Cafe, long a local favorite among a certain clientele despite its decidedly Cracker Barrel-lite style of decor and inauspicious strip-mall location. Who, exactly, is this certain clientele? Beats the hell out of me, but they must be of the forgiving sort, because I can't see a single reason why I would ever return. To look at the restaurant's website (www.nonoscafe.com) and read the list of quoted reviews, it would appear that no one has had anything good to say about the place since 1996 -- the year it opened. Me? I'm not such a nice guy, but I'm not even sure where to start. There was the flavorless, dry penne mac-and-cheese, the steam-table jambalaya with its vaguely authentic dirty rice studded with flaccid slices of sausage and terrible old bits of chicken and beef. The bisque was made with gray shrimp, the shepherd's pie with gray beef. The menu (like the dining rooms) is done in a hodgepodge of styles: some Italian, a little American, some curries and a bunch of bayou classics all being abused by a kitchen that seems overly proud of itself for not doing much of anything good. The one saving grace were the desserts: The sweet-potato crunch was a perfect post-Thanksgiving taste of a vegetable disguised as candy, and the bread pudding, while not the best I've ever had, was sweet and dense and swamped in a tasty bourbon sauce powerful enough to burn away the greasy aftertaste of the shepherd's pie.
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