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DINING OUT

Good food, ambience at dockside bistro

The Grille and Bistro at the Danversport Yacht Club

161 Elliott St. (Route 62), Danvers

978-774-8620

Open Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; closed on Monday

All major credit cards accepted

Accessible to the handicapped

At some yacht clubs, kitchens are an afterthought. At the Danversport Yacht Club, the dining facilities are so extensive you wonder if anyone there ever goes sailing.

The yacht club has three private function rooms, one of which can seat 650. A separate Grille and Bistro is open to one and all, whether you own a boat or just like to look at them through the windows.

Our family of four marked the unofficial beginning of summer last weekend by dining there for the first time in ages.

The complex had grown so much since the 1980s that we had trouble recalling where the restaurant's entrance was. (It's around to the right and downstairs.) Several high school proms were underway, and one section of the enormous parking lot was occupied by limousines, including -- to our kids' delight -- several stretch Hummers and a stretch Porsche.

We were first seated in the middle of what was basically a corridor, close to an outside door. Waitresses balancing large trays squeezed past us in an almost constant stream. As busy as the place was, when we asked our waitress if we could be seated at one of the large patio tables on the popular outside terrace, she couldn't have been friendlier. While we waited for our new table to open up, she encouraged us to nibble on appetizers and leave the mess behind when we relocated.

The short wait was worth it: As dusk set in and the flood tide peaked, we enjoyed the view of the flotilla crowding the marina alongside us.

We started our meal with $6 blooming onion appetizer, a sliced-up but still-intact onion that had been dipped in batter and fried like onion rings. Sure, it's heart-attack food, but we couldn't stop peeling off portions and gobbling them up.

The restaurant seemed like the right kind of place to order red meat, so we did. Our carnivorous 18-year-old, who'd graduated from high school a few hours earlier, celebrated with a 12-ounce New York sirloin steak ($19). Accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and a heap of string beans, the steak was tender and tasty, and he devoured it.

Two of us had a scaled-down version of the same: sirloin steak tips with french fries and cole slaw ($12). The meat was fine, but the fries were a bit on the greasy side, and the cole slaw was the usual too-sweet stuff that so many restaurants make and so many customers seem to love.

An entree of sea scallops sauteed with mushrooms, garlic, white wine, and lemon butter ($16) was delicious and tender and not overwhelmed by breading, cheese, or other distractions. The dish was understated enough to call for a bit of extra salt -- unusual in our experience.

Despite calling itself a bistro, the Danversport Yacht Club's restaurant isn't a destination we'd recommend to discriminating foodies. But for us, having endured a sweltering afternoon of pomp and circumstance and now finding ourselves serenaded in the balmy night air by the muffled thump-thump of prom music against a backdrop of lit-up powerboats, it was perfect.

COCO McCABE AND DOUG STEWART

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