Friday, December 4, 2009

The Burger King

The teenaged son of a friend of ours, T., was in Boston last weekend, during his prep school's holiday, to look at colleges. We invited him to lunch at the Warren Tavern, one of our favorite Lunch Spots Where You Can Park. We like the antique charm of the small front room and the cozy fireplace in the back room. We also like the burgers and sandwiches, which come with excellent fries (or homemade potato chips, if you like that sort of thing). Since T. was staying in the Seaport Hotel by the Convention Center, he hadn't seen much of Quaint Olde Boston. He said the winding, gaslit streets of Charlestown reminded him of villages in Germany, where he'd grown up before moving to back to Egypt with his family.

Quiet but confident —and smart, curious, articulate, charming, and handsome — T. is full of promise. I'll bet Obama was a lot like him at that age. T. speaks English and Arabic well, but is most fluent in German. He doesn't know if he wants to study medicine, engineering, acting, or archaeology. We told him to ignore whatever anyone — parents, teachers — might push him toward, and to follow his heart. He said his older brother had been telling him the same thing for years. He just wasn't sure yet.

T. asked us to explain the Boston Tea Party and we did our best. We also stumbled over the history of the Bunker Hill Monument, an Egyptian obelisk that he found puzzling. As we perused the menu options, we all agreed on the illogic of putting Swiss cheese on the Paul Revere burger. Only American cheese belongs on a patriot's sandwich.

Speaking of Patriots, T. is an ardent fan. My husband, who shares this malady, gets a kick out of talking about Wes Welker with an Egyptian.

Our sandwiches arrived, and T. told us he was going to have the "best burger in Boston" for dinner, at a restaurant that had been exhaustively researched by some of his fellow students. "Where?" I asked. He said he couldn't remember the name, but that it was unequivocally "the best!" and he would let us know afterward. I mentioned Abe and Louis, where at lunchtime you can get burgers that rival their steaks. But Uburger would fit better in a high-schooler's budget.

T. was planning to explore several in-town colleges and was curious to also see Tufts, so we drove there after lunch. It was a sunny, very windy day and the deserted campus looked romantic. T. said it reminded him of Hogwarts, and decided he would apply. We tried to assure him that, as a bright, English-speaking foreign student, he may have more opportunities for admission and scholarships —which he'll need — than he might expect. I hope we're right. It would be great to treat him to more burgers as an undergraduate in Boston.

And where was Boston's Best Burger? Bartley's Burger Cottage. I dunno. But T. said it was "like butter!"

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