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Best Bites: Betty's Beef and Seafood


Published November 10, 2009 at 1:02 p.m.

133 North Main Street, in the JC Penney Shopping Center, St. Albans 752-4949

When I travel, I envision what might lie inside all the mom-and-pop eateries I pass. It makes me sad that I will never try most of them, because I fear they might be something like Betty's.

A tiny diner sandwiched between a dollar store and a video rental place, Betty's doesn't appear to be any more than a greasy spoon. Inside, though, you'll find an assortment of specialties wacky enough to match the restaurant's name. There's a board trumpeting the names of eaters who have braved the Nine Alarm Chili Challenge, a cup of tangy beef and beans with the bite of a vindaloo. Order a cup and saltines will help mitigate the heat.

Then there's the titular beef – juicy top sirloin sliced thin and piled high on a kaiser roll. Owner Betty Lambesis says the sandwich – available as Junior Beef, Regular Beef or Big Beef – is based on a regional Massachusetts specialty popularized by a small chain called Bob's Roast Beef. Betty's and Bob's sandwiches also share a recipe for a vinegar and tomato-based barbecue sauce which takes the pile of meat from homemade Arby's to something far grander.

Of course, there's also fresh seafood battered in-house. Be sure to get it with the sweet and skinny corn-meal crusted onion rings. Platters — including haddock, shrimp and scallops — top out at $14.95. Most dishes are around $11.95.

Probably the coolest specialty at Betty's however, is the small Greek menu. There's spanakopita and desserts like baklava and kataifi in the bakery case. I recommend the chicken souvlaki platter. A hot pita is spread with tzatziki sauce and filled with two chicken skewers, marinated in an addictively citric sauce. A Greek salad replete with chunks of feta shares plate space with both fries and onion rings. The whole platter is $8.95 – leaving you with money for some kataifi.