Good Eatin': Revere, Massachusetts

It's late. After twelve hours on the road, we're exhausted and famished. Somewhere on Route 1A, a beaten-up stretch of highway that meanders through the North Shore parallel to the real Rte. 1 and the harbor, seeking a signal from the elusive ATT Wireless, we pull into a parking lot on what looks in the dark like landfill at the edge of a marsh in front of a dejected-looking building that might be dedicated to processing fish lips into cat food. We call our hotel for directions, but we've been through so many detours and roundabouts that we can't tell the innkeeper whether we're headed north or south. "We're in the parking lot of something called The Wharf," we say, and that wins us incredible and, as it turns out, fanciful you-can't-get-here-from-there-style directions that include a "right turn down the alley behind the Cathedral."

Satisfied for the moment that we won't be sleeping in the car, our attention immediately reverts back to our stomachs. All the long day, expecting to alight by dinnertime in the land of the shoah dinnah, we have been limiting our intake to light snacks, leaving room for the lobsters and steamers that are to be our reward. Sensing that we're talking to a local, we ask the hotelier for "the best place for lobster" in the Saugus-Revere area. "Yoah theah," comes the reply. "The Whaff is excellent!"

And you know what, it is. A rambling multi-roomed roadhouse that probably started its life 30 years ago selling the day's catch off the back of a wagon, Mt Vernon At The Wharf, as it is officially named, is comfortable, friendly and dim. Since it was so late and a school night, we were the only customers, save a couple of locals watching ESPN in the distant bar.

Too young to afford us a wine recommendation and too inexperienced to provide real service (she had to be sent back for things like napkins and butter), our waitress was nonetheless cheerful and solicitous; before heading home for the night, the proprietor herself stopped by to make sure all was well. Two large, plump lobsters, steamed veggies and baked potato, plus ever-dependable Guinness (better safe than sorry), and we were out the door for less than $35. We passed on the steamers because of the hour, but we'll be headed back. For one thing, we'd like to be in the joint on a Friday or Saturday night. Bet it's really cookin' (Mt Vernon At The Wharf, 543 North Shore Road, Revere, Massachusetts, 617-289-0885).

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