Roast beef is a local passion in the Boston area, as much as chili in Cincinnati or bratwurst in Sheboygan. In Lynn, Saugus, Salem, Beverly, and up towards Cape Ann, dozens of quick-service eateries boast of beef. When we went looking for Kelly’s Roast Beef in Revere (the original, and now one of four Kelly’s around Beantown), we asked a gent outside an auto body shop if he knew where Kelly’s was. “Whaddaya, hungry?” he asked with glee, pointing us to what he promised would be “one hunnerd fitty percent satisfaction.”
Service is eat-in-the-rough: place your order at the broad window, then linger on the sidewalk until it’s ready. Gather everything in your arms and dash across Revere Beach Boulevard to find a bench under a covered pavilion by the beach. Dine in true summer-vacation style – overlooking the ocean, surrounded by greedy seagulls.
The roast beef, available in a small or large sandwich, is lovely: soft, pink, thin-sliced, and piled high on a butter-toasted, sesame-seed bun. The rest of the menu is shoreline seafood, including fish and chips and fried clams that are golden-brown, toasty-flavored, and a joy to chew – much juicier than rubber-textured clam strips, yet not as gushy as a North Shore whole-belly clam. A clam plate includes French fries, sweet onion rings, and homemade tartar sauce.
Note the drink nomenclature, also utterly local. Carbonated beverages are here called tonics. What the rest of the world knows as a milk shake (ice cream, milk, flavoring) is a frappe.