Photo by   Gavin Thomas

Photo by Gavin Thomas

As I walked under the burgundy and beige striped awning, the first thing I noticed was wood planks reminiscent of the siding you’d expect to see in a small rural town in Middle America. The smell of fresh mint immediately captivated my nose from the freshly brewed iced tea at the bar and just before I could take another breath in, a waitress, equally simple and stylish as the bold lines of the awning walks past by with a plate of fried chicken.  This wasn't the chicken you'd imagine from a cardboard box, but the smell of fried chicken that is clearly from the recipe of a woman who has stories of several generations come and gone. 

The menu consists of a combination of classic American comfort food and Asian Cuisine from Thailand and Japan.  The floral wallpaper is the most charming stencil of what looks to have been colored in with the marker a child found to occupy his summer afternoon. Big and small daily specials are written on a chalkboard just above the first table in the window, and sounds that speak of teenage romance from the 1970’s comes from the sound system. 

If I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t believe that I was actually in the chic section of Nolita but actually making a rest stop somewhere in Indiana or Oklahoma. I ordered the lunch special and in about 10 minutes, fresh out of a hot pan with just the right amount of oil still sizzling, the chicken fried hard with just the right amount of batter to give an irresistible without the guilt of thinking I'm doing my arteries and injustice.  There’s just enough seasoning to let you know there’s more than flour, but not enough to compete with the kick of the ginger and Japanese pepper in the dipping aioli. 

The space is big enough for just under 12 parties to sit comfortably, but I really appreciated the siesta energy that the late lunch vibe provided here.  There were so many amazing combinations of flavors on the menu, I wish I had time to try everything!  I'll definitely be back the next time I'm in the neighborhood. In the meantime...Lovely Day is the place for a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere with a damn good mix of savory and spice.  This is a must if you're ever in Nolita!