BY DAVE MIN
Porter Square has the finest dining around, and its most renowned establishments are McDonald’s Restaurant (no relation to People’s 37th most eligible bachelor, Shawn McDonald) and Dunkin’ Donuts. My opponent in this debate, the esteemed “Colonel” Parker, with his typical rustic ignorance of good taste, claims that the best restaurant in Cambridge is Chez McDonald’s. He is wrong.
McDonald’s, located at 5 White Street in the Porter Square Mall, is the fecund remainder of a once proud dine-asty that regularly boasted such luminaries as Grimace and the Hamburglar among its patrons. But this gastronomic Camelot is in ruins, and the current McDonald’s caters primarily to tourists and half-wits.
Its sterile and drab décor is an offensively inadequate attempt at emulating the feel of a classic American diner, and its over-bright lighting and lack of intimacy are excruciating. This is definitely NOT a place to take a date, as evidenced by the clientele, a dour menagerie of single men ranging in age from 17 to 71.
The food, unfortunately, matches the interior design. Given their single-minded devotion to that most American of foods, the hamburger, one might assume the chefs would have mastery over this domain. This assumption would be gravely wrong. The Quarter Pounder with Cheese ($4), like the winter Versace collection, is a destructive assault on the senses, and a far cry from the delightful Royale with Cheese that I lunched on in the porn district of Paris.
McDonald’s offers some Prix Fixe options, with chicken or beef accompanied by Pommes Frites, ranging in price from $3 (?4) to $5 (?7), as well as a small assortment of appetizers and desserts. But perhaps your best option here is to eat the cardboard box which packages your food: It has more flavor and is certainly a more memorable dining experience. In the words of my Jewish twin, Mike Naft, “McDonald’s is like Jackson Heights’ own Randy Watson and his band Sexual Chocolate: ‘good and terrible.'”
But all is not lost in Porter Square. Take a few steps over to 1 White Street, and you may notice a trendy bistro, nestled cozily next to Masss Ave. Dunkin’ Donuts is a quaint and affordable gustatory experience.
When I take a date somewhere, I insist on having a seat with a view, and this often entails Herculean efforts. At Dunkin’ Donuts, however, every seat is a window seat! Along with the dim lighting and intimate tables, the ambiance screams seduction!
Dunkin’ Donuts’ entrée selection is stylishly minimal, with a Continental flavor. While the “Omwich,” a sensually tasty egg sandwich slathered in a decadent Hollandaise-inspired sauce, is, sadly, gone, there are many other epicurean ecstasies awaiting. Try gnawing on one of the vast array of pastries, like the Boston Cream ($1), or nibble on such instant classics as the Egg Sandwich ($2) or Bagel with Cream Cheese ($2), and you’ll be tasting a little bit of heaven. The wide variety of aperitifs, ranging from Arizona Iced Teas to the homebrewed Vanilla Coffee, is simultaneously diverse, soulful and subtle, much like the new Britney Spears album.
There is no comparison between Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. Dunkin’ Donuts is to standard dining fare what John Holmes is to Oliver Wendell and Sherlock Holmes: a man among boys.