Classic lunch-counter cuisine at Ann's


BOSTON, Mass. -- Lunch counters have disappeared from most modern American cities, but here on Cambridge Street in Boston, blue-plate specials are dished out daily from behind the counter of Ann's Restaurant, an old-fashioned hash house par excellence.

Service is lightning-quick. Within a minute or so of taking your order, the lady behind the counter will have started piling an orange plastic tray with dishes. Pay for the meal, then carry the tray to a table and dig in. This is not food for fussy gourmets. It is, to put it politely, inelegant chow -- which is just what you want when you come to dine at Ann's.

Lunch-counter lamb

Serves six.

2 cups red wine

1/2 cup minced onion

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 pounds lamb from leg, cut into 1 1/2 -inch cubes

1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

Combine the wine, onion, bay leaf, Worcestershire, garlic, salt and pepper in a crock, then add the lamb, stirring so all the meat is moistened. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

Heat broiler and set a broiling rack about 6 inches below the heat source. Remove the meat from the marinade, discard marinade and roll the meat in the bread crumbs. Thread it on skewers (alternating with cherry tomatoes, mushroom caps, peppers or small quartered onions if desired). Broil about 20 minutes, turning frequently, until the lamb is crusty outside, pink inside. Serve with rice or rice pilaf.

Ann's Cafeteria, 250 Huntington Ave., Boston, Mass. 02115; (617) 266-1980.

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