On the Cheap by Joanne Hinkel
Brookline's latest wave of hip little takeout spots and coffee shops hasn't
dented the Busy Bee, open since 1920. Why not? "Terrific food at terrific
prices," explains Big Al, a regular for 30 years. "And on Fridays they serve
the best fried belly clams outside of Ipswich." It's a friendly joint with
turquoise vinyl booths, a checkerboard floor, relish jars on the tables, and a
waitress who ends every sentence with "sweetie"; at lunchtime, professionals
and locals wait in line for the in-and-out service and food like Mom used to
make. In this decade, few menus still feature entrées like Yankee pot
roast ($5.95), grilled liver and onions ($4.95), and beef stew ($3.95).
Meat-and-potatoes lovers will especially appreciate the meat loaf and mashed
potatoes ($4.95) for its juicy, buttery bites. Good lunch choices are the
cheeseburger deluxe, served with a heap of crispy French fries ($3.35), or any
of the spinoffs of grilled cheese (sandwiches filled with tomato, ham, or
bacon, all under $3). To drink? Coca-Cola and a straw, of course. Cook and
owner Peter Christakis puts in 15-hour days to spare his customers' wallets,
but they're on their own when it comes to saving their waistlines.
The Busy Bee, located at 1046 Beacon Street, in Brookline, is open
Monday through Friday from 6 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Call (617) 566-8733.
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