By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
This past week was my first full week of classes (four days of four hours of classes, which for the record is more than I was doing back in Boston so that’s an adjustment in and of itself). After my four hours of morning classes on Monday, I decided to be a good student and head over to neighboring Imperial College for a study session. They also have a pub on campus so I figured I’d get a pint as I worked my way through my Government and Politics of the European Union textbook. Aren’t I such a good student?
The union pub thing (it’s still not really clear what the place is called) is basically a big room with a couple of tables, big windows and high ceilings that apparently gets pretty wild on Wednesdays when classes are in session. Oh, and of course, a bar that stretches the length of the room.
Walking into the union (we’ll call it that), there had to be no more than five people in the place (probably because it was 2 p.m.), including the one bartender woman that gave me a pretty glare-y once-over as I walked over to the bar. Actually, it felt like all five people in the establishment turned and stared as I walked into the place. Like they could smell it on me that I wasn’t from here (or even a real Imperial student). Finding a spot to sit felt like that scene in Mean Girls where Cady tries to navigate the lunchroom only I didn’t have a posse like Janice and that guy who’s too gay to function telling me where the awkward foreigners sit. Because that’s apparently now my clique du jour. At least no one growled at me.
But alas, faking it until I make it is among my primary skills so I plunked down in the corner of the union with my pint and textbook and did my best not to be distracted by the freakishly good music being played. Seriously, they played “Hey Ya,” “99 Problems” and “Milkshake.” I kept kind of laughing at the music because it was great (I was drinking a pint, after all), and the bartender and other patrons just kept looking over at me with these weird judge-y stares. In hindsight, this might be because I ordered a pint at 2 in the afternoon.
People trickled in and out of the union during my three hours of studying (that music was really distracting) and I couldn’t help but feel like I was just this weird magnet with my funky and arguably fresh American scent.
Once I finished my work, I resisted the urge to slam down my glass and yell “FOR AMERICA” or drop the mic or something (because that would be rude). I have no proof or real knowledge that anyone in the place actually even noticed I was there, but it was strange to feel like I was sticking out like a sore thumb.
One of my friends on the program is originally from England and has been acting as my cultural ambassador. I told her about my experience (“IT’S LIKE THEY COULD SMELL THAT I’M AN AMERICAN!!!”) and she said it’s probably true. She also said that no one really cares. If you’re from America, you look like an American and people can observe that the same way you know a German when you see one and that’s that. But really, no one cares.
I still haven’t decided whether or not I’ll be going back this week. If I do make it back, I’ll just have to resist the urge to sing the national anthem or start a “USA” chant.
By Nolan Young, Staff Writer
Located along the bustling streets of Allston, @Union is a restaurant as tasty as it is unique.
With its murals, stainless-steel appliances, fresh coffee and delicious food, @Union’s environment is as aesthetically pleasing as the food is appetizing. The menu is diverse, offering a wide array of options for breakfast and lunch that range from creamy scrambled eggs to succulent burgers. The atmosphere is youthful and lively. Music plays overhead, usually to the tune of Mumford and Sons on Pandora. Most notably, the vibrant interior mirrors the eclectic Allston community it serves.
Let’s get back to food though. Two words: eggs benedict. Always perfectly poached, the eggs mix delightfully with the delicious Canadian bacon, hollandaise sauce, and English muffin. The side of home fries is a worthy compliment, the onions and garlic abundant. All for around $10, the dish is easy on the wallet as well. A bit more pricy ($12), the lobster benedict is a great choice for the seafood fan looking for a treat. The lusciousness of the lobster is a sure-fire way to relieve any Sunday morning funk.
In a world filled with Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s always a treat to find a more personalized cup of joe – and as you walk into @Union, the sweet, intoxicating aroma of home-brewed coffee immediately greets you. @Union takes pride in its coffee, brewing their very own dark and medium roast blends in addition to a home brew that is always fresh and adds to the restaurant’s humble, neighborhood character.
It doesn’t stop at coffee though; the restaurant also serves up a large selection of different lattes, cappuccinos, and other caffeine packed drinks that are perfect for jump-starting your day.
And if you’re not a coffee person? The drink menu includes fresh fruit smoothies, juices, Italian sodas, teas and a particularly good hot chocolate.
Although the food is sensational, what makes @Union special is the ambiance. The restaurant is routinely filled with students, Allston residents and a young, enthusiastic wait staff (although service can be a little slow when the restaurant is busy).
What’s more, the crowds mix about in front of a distinctive backdrop: beautiful murals by local artist Taylor M’Leigh that catch your eye as soon as you enter. The artwork’s strong character makes @Union’s atmosphere extremely unique; the murals are as essential to the restaurant as the food and coffee.
@Union does a tremendous job of being an active part of the Allston community. Dozens of local businesses advertise in the restaurant, leaving their business cards and flyers by the exit. Local bands, event holders and venues post there as well. In an attempt to broaden its horizons, @Union has also begun to host live musicians and cater to events and parties. And by offering free Wi-Fi, breakfast all day and Facebook raffles to win free food, the restaurant is clearly in touch with the young, student-oriented neighborhood around it.
It would be hard to find an establishment that embodies its community more than @Union. With its great food, attentive wait staff, and keen ability to produce a vivacious, dynamic atmosphere, @Union is definitely a ‘must visit’ when in Allston.