Ye Olde but still serving


If you get a chance, go to the Ye Olde Oyster House, at 41-43 Union St., Boston, in a structure built in 1704 and since 1826 a restaurant. It's near City Hall and the waterfront.

The Union Oyster House has long lured famous people, such as the Kennedys and Daniel Webster, who used to stand at the bar and gorge himself with bivalves.

When I lunched there last year with  French journalist, media executive and novelist Jean Lesieur, I belatedly discovered that in  1796 Louis Philippe, king of France from 1830 to 1848, lived in exile on the second floor. There's a sign. He earned his living by teaching French to young women. When he became king, he didn't put on heavy royal airs and so was nicknamed the "Bourgeois King.''

Much later, labor economist and  Haverford College  President John Royston Coleman worked there  incognito as a "salad-and-sandwich man"  in the 1970s, writing about the experience in his book The Blue Collar Journal. He sure picked a spiffy place; that's cheating.

For some reasons, they had no raw oysters when I ate there with Jean. We had to settle with delicious but heart-stopping fried ones.

-- Robert Whitcomb