It's apple-picking season. Our weekends in October are largely taken up with sports and family obligations, and I'd despaired of finding the time to make a pilgrimage to farm country in search of that leafy cathedral studded with red and green jewels. Somewhat unexpectedly, yesterday, (hey, they expect you to read
that calendar your kid takes home from school?) we discovered we had a day free for Rosh Hashanah, and piled into the car on what was a crisp if cloudy autumn day.
Heeding the call of Mike G, the Lion of Beverly, the voice crying out in the food desert
, we opted to stop at Top Notch Beefburgers for lunch. After driving around Beverly aimlessly for about ten minutes, trying to figure out the detour around the construction at Wood St. (You need to go up to 87th to cross the train tracks, but of course the signs don't tell
you that!) We saw the First Sign:
In we went, taking in the frozen-in-time quality of the place. We sat at the counter, where you can see (and hear) the burgers being pounded out and tossed on the grill, and the orders being dinged-out for pickup with a little bell, just as they should be.
Sparky ordered a hotdog kid's meal with an oreo shake - dogs are crisped on the griddle (he pronounced that he prefers his hotdogs "raw," but what does he know, he's eight
) I ordered a cube steak sandwich with nothing, and the 'spouse got the beefburger with grilled onions.
While I enjoyed my bites of everybody else's food, despite starkness in presentation of the cube steak sandwich, it hit all the craving points perfectly: crisp, buttered, grilled bread; (not at all stale as in most places) umami note and nice chew from the meat, and a bright tang from the pickles. It needed no sides, and, indeed, I could not have eaten them had they accompanied it. I left more satisfied with that lunch than I have by a sandwich in ages.
From there, we made a quick stop at D's Irie Kitchen - at least, I'd planned it to be a quick stop. This is not a place to go if you've got a tight agenda for the day - my order of jerk chicken wings took somewhere between 20-30 minutes. I spent that time admiring the photos and prints of Bob Marley doing various things (lighting up a big one, playing footbol, you know) and eavesdropping on the bright young high school students who'd come in to get a snack, discussing the merits of Spanish vs Mandarin Chinese as a language course option. This place has all the trappings of the gritty (no seating or even counter space, gravel lot,) but it's a facade; it is bright and clean and spartan, and the customers and counterman pleasant.
The wings turned out to be well worth the wait: a beautiful mahogany-brown, a bit dry from the smoking process as they should be, and heavy on the allspice and thyme. I didn't find them too spicy on their own, although the accompanying vinegar sauce was blow-your-head-off hot - one of the young ladies had ordered her chicken "mild" so I assume I may have recieved that, as well. Definitely worth a stop if you're in the area - and this also is my preferred method of jerk chicken, and also prefer the accompanying Jamaican-style white bread to the Wonder that usually comes with BBQ. I was sorry we were too full for more.
Satiated, indeed, over-satiated, we turned our wheels South and East...(continued here