Posts tagged ‘burgers’

May 28, 2011

It Must Be Summer

May 16, 2011

Inaugural Bartley’s Burger

I’ve been hearing about Bartley’s for years. That’s Mr. Bartley’s if we’re being technical.

Tucked around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Harvard Square’s central T-stop, Bartley’s is completely unassuming and if I didn’t know the history that sits behind that worn screen door, I absolutely would have walked right past. Good thing I know better =)

My roommates and I arrived on Saturday expecting a good hour-long wait under threatening skies but we were determined to try these world famous burgers. We waited only moments, hardly enough time to digest the endless list of burger possibilities, before being whisked inside. Or should I say thrown?

The dining room was abuzz with chatter and it felt more like a boot camp mess hall than a gourmet burger joint. Old Boston memorabilia, including a painting of dear old Teddy Kennedy, adorn the walls, along with homages to Elvis and the good, old soda shoppe days. Our host was gone before we had even pulled out our chairs and we had to continually do a little dance with the waitstaff as they ran to and fro, yelling out fresh orders, delivering steaming piles of freshly-battered onion rings, and whipping up chocolate and banana frappes.

Bartley’s was in a frenzy but as soon as we sat down it was like we were watching it all from the comfort of our living room. These guys are the experts in chaos. We couldn’t help but feed off the energy of the guys working the grill and the waitress with a voice that could knock you back 3 feet.

Our waiter, Atticus Finch (you know, if Atticus Finch pushed burgers and shakes all day long), didn’t give us the bum’s rush that diners so often get on a crowded night. I have a feeling that what we witnessed was the norm at Bartley’s and, man, have they got herding hungry crowds down to a science.

Let’s talk burgers, though, since that’s really what this night was all about.

The list is endless and that’s only the burgers! Salads, sandwiches, sides – it’s all there. But really, who gets a salad at a place known for it’s burgers? That’d be like ordering clam chowder in Phoenix or Chicago deep-dish in New Orleans. Just plain silly.

If the wall art and waitstaff aren’t entertainment enough, each burger has its own little celebrity tagline. One roommate went with The Facebook “topped w/ BBQ sauce, & cole slaw, w/ French fries”, while the other got the Skip Gates as a veggie burger “teriyaki burger w/ grilled pineapple & onion rings”. I went with the Mitt Romney and…well, I have no words. We stopped speaking for a full 15 minutes except for the occasional exclamation of “I can’t believe how good this is!” and “When are we coming back?!”.

Okay, not true. I have words. This was the moistest turkey burger to ever cross my plate. Topped with swiss cheese and grilled onions and their famous onion rings on the side. Oh. Baby. Baby.

We won’t even pretend like I went their with my health in mind.

Actually, I take that back. Health isn’t always about eating my greens and oats (although those are also undeniably delicious and have not fallen by the wayside, I promise). Sometimes, health is about taking a bite and making that  “this is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth” face (yes, I do that over oatmeal, too…) Sometimes you just need to have ketchup dripping down your arms and look around the crowded room and realize everyone else is in it with you.


Bartley’s isn’t just about having dinner. It’s about the collective experience of food, the power of food to bring us back down to earth and say, oh, yeah, this is why I love my life.

Maybe I’m putting too much stock in a burger but c’mon, you must know what I’m saying just a little bit. Yeah?

When can we go back?