We love our MINI Cooper, but every once in a while something requires us to have to visit a dealer. This time, it was a warranty issue, and for various reasons we had to take it down to Mini of Peabody in Peabody, MA. However, we couldn’t really complain, it was a chance to do some shopping, test drive a nice new Mini Roadster, and find a new place to eat.
Both of us were kind of craving a roast beef sandwich. And that’s a good thing, since the Boston area still has a lot of independently-owned roast beef sandwich shop (see my previous review of Billy’s, for example). This holds doubly so for the North Shore, with a dozen roast beef places within a 15 minute drive of Peabody. We ended up settling on one of the more respected ones: Nick’s Famous Roast Beef in Beverly, MA.
Nick’s is centrally located in Beverly, off a little kink in 1A that results in a very inconvenient parking lot. But parking aside, Nick’s is basic just your typical MA roast beef shop: strip mall location, tile floors, somewhat spartan furniture, and an ordering counter.
As far as menu goes, it’s obvious from the start that Nick’s is basically about the Roast Beef. Sure, they’ve got all sorts of things on the menu (subs, kabobs, chicken fingers, etc.), but really, the focus here is on the roast beef (available in three sizes from “junior” to “super”) and the sides to go with it (french fries and onion rings).
This simplicity made it relatively easy to order: we both ordered large sandwiches with horseradish, and decided to split an order of french fries (as you will see from the next couple of entries, this visit was only a week before our two week bender of Chicago and Austin eating). A few minutes later, they brought our order out.
How was the roast beef? It was quite good. A nice, rich flavor, and sliced very nicely into thin slices that still held their own as slices (so many places I’ve been slice the beef so thinly it turns into shreds, which to me starts to make the beef stringy). I’ll be honest, I like my beef a little more rare than what Nick’s serves by default (hmm, I wonder if they’ll do it more rare for me in the future), but this certainly wasn’t overcooked; the meat was juicy and flavorful, with just enough juice running into the bun to moisten it without making anything soggy.
As for the fries? These were really good. My experience at several area roast beef stands is that they can often do a really good job on the roast beef, but then fall flat with the fries. That was my experience at Kelly’s, and at Billy’s. But it wasn’t my experience here: the fries were very nicely cooked (fluffy inside, crispy outside), properly salted, not greasy, and obviously cooked in nice clean oil with no off flavors (for some reason, sooo many Boston area joints seem to cook their fries in the same oil as the fish, with subpar results). In fact, these fries are what put Nick’s near the top of my revisit list, since the combination of roast beef and fries was a lot better than most of the competition. For that matter, while we didn’t order any onion rings, most ever other customer did, so I constantly saw several perfect batches of onion rings come out to the counter while we were there.
I’ll definitely go back when I’m in the area. I’d like to try to see if a few improvements are possible by careful ordering (like seeing if I can get some beef that’s a bit more rare, or if they have grated horseradish), or trying out other items (as I said above, the onion rings looked and smelled really good), but they’ve got a good solid product going here, and have earned their reputation.