A worthy alternative to the great fried clam shacks of Massachusetts’ North Shore, Agawam is a ship-shape, pint-size 1954 diner that is all silver sunbursts, pink laminate paneling, and red-upholstered booths. The menu is pure and traditional diner fare, including beef stew, hot hamburger plates, luscious grilled cheese sandwiches for less than the cost of a junk-food hamburger, and breakfast that is virtually instantaneous.
We have enjoyed hearty beef and bean chili in a sweet-hot tomato zest and we have savored a daily special of lamb shank, which was so tender that it slipped from its bone with ease. A double-layer banana nut cake gobbed with whipped cream was memorable dessert, but in this classic hash house, it is the conversation among staff and regulars that is most delicious.
“Where’s your Corvette?” a counter customer asks his waitress.
“Put away for the winter,” she answers, slicing a chunky apple pie into eight wedges and putting one piece on a plate for her interlocutor.
“Loan the ‘Vette to me,” he grins. “I’ll put a plow on it and make money when it snows.”
From the far end of the counter, a lady wearing overalls and a knit cap chimes in: “You don’t need a plow. You need a shovel. You’re always shovelin’ the BS.”
“Oh, look what I found for you!” the waitress calls to her distaff supporter, bringing her the apple pie that had been cut for the wise-acre.