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  • Writer's pictureKirby Lee Davis

Scowling at unsweet tea...

I tried my first Burger Street today. Double beef, double cheese, pickles and ketchup only, on a plain bun -- no toasting, no buttering, no grilling... just a plain, unaltered bun. A naked bun, as some eateries call it.

That request usually stops them in their tracks, and many cooks fail it completely. At one offending Braums I sent the toasted bun back twice, and on its third try, the bread on my burger still came back twice-cooked. But here at Burger Street, that stipulation drew not one eye, or problem. They got it right the first time.

Eating at Burger Street in Tulsa, OK

What DID raise unrest was my request for a large tea, unsweetened, no lemon.

Now, what usually trips up the waitress/counter person here is the lemon. No matter how much I emphasize the “no” in “no lemon,” I usually receive a slice... sometimes even with the refill. I came to see it as a service staff reflex action -- pour tea, pop in a citrus slice. It happened so often, I figured these gals just had to be secret members of the Stamp Out Scurvy In Our Lifetime Society (Yes, the dreaded SOSOLS). It happened so often, I made a lemon-free tea one of my Three Rules for Tipping (the other two being... well, that’s a tale for another day).

But that wasn’t the problem this time. No, the old Latino behind the counter looked at me and said, “Unsweet?”

I nodded.

“Not sweet?” she continued.

“Unsweet,” I insisted when my second nod drew uncertain eyes.

So she rang me up, gave me my change, and poured my large drink. I then asked for some sugar. She gave me an incredulous stare before turning to the back counter for some saccharine.

“No, sugar,” I told her. “Real sugar. The white bags.”

That drew a frown. “Look,” she said, “it would be far easier if you ordered sweet tea than unsweet.”

I explained how restaurant sweet tea is usually far too sweet for my tastes. I would have added how you never know just what a restaurant is sweetening its tea with, but her honest-to-God scowl cut me off. She then retrieved three bags of sugar and tossed them onto the counter.

I decided that was enough and turned aside, just as she started telling her cook staff in Spanish what I had done. They laughed at her tale for more than five minutes, either not guessing or caring that I recalled enough of that language to understand.


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