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Lunch, Anyone? Trident Cafe

Where breakfast makes the perfect midday meal

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Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury Street. Photos by Cydney Scott

During my first official weekend as a Terrier, I decided to explore my new city. So while other freshmen were moving TVs, fans, and mattress pads into stuffy dorm rooms, I discovered a small, narrow brownstone near the top of Newbury Street called Trident Café. It was my first dining experience as a Bostonian and that meal solidified my relationship with my new city. I’ve felt a connection to Trident ever since.

On a recent Friday afternoon, I stopped by this Back Bay locale for lunch with a friend. The actual name of the establishment is Trident Booksellers and Café. And the building’s dual purpose becomes immediately apparent when you enter. One side offers an expansive selection of magazines from around the world and books of myriad genres. There’s always a catchy title on the new releases table.

The other side of the room is the actual café, which has two major seating areas divided by a long wooden bar surrounded by charming stools. The room can accommodate nearly 100 diners. On the afternoon we visited, we were seated immediately, despite business being brisk. A quick look around the room revealed a mixed crowd: families, couples of every age, and small groups of friends gossiping over their meals. Also among them were what looked to be solo academics with their noses, appropriately, in books and magazines.

According to café director Megan Mount, Trident patrons run the gamut. “The crowd is very diverse: students and professors, blind dates, families, young professionals, and single people looking for a place to hang out that isn’t a bar,” she says.

With local artwork hanging on the walls and a cluttered bar countertop, the dining area of the café could easily pass as someone’s (large) home kitchen, complete with big bay windows (the perfect venue for watching passersby).

Trident’s cuisine is like the décor: cozy and familiar. Admittedly, I hardly ever stray from the  perpetual breakfast menu. I’m proud to say I’ve tried almost every item. I could gush for hours over the café’s Morning Monte Cristo sandwich ($9.95), two fried eggs, Canadian bacon, raspberry preserves, and cheddar cheese piled between two perfect slices of challah bread French toast, or its Lemon Ricotta French Toast ($10.95), challah bread stuffed with lemon ricotta cheese filling drizzled with blueberry sauce. Both items are sophisticated, flavorful twists on breakfast classics.

Despite my penchant for Trident’s morning cuisine, on this visit I decided to sample some of the more customary lunchtime fare. Based on the recommendation of our waitress and the instructional video I came across on YouTube, I decided to order a bowl of Vegan Cashew Chili ($6.50) and a carrot-apple-ginger juice drink called the Wake Up Call ($4.75).

The juice, one of many from Trident’s extensive juice and smoothie menu, was a piquant bright orange concoction that tasted fresh and earthy. Although the ginger flavor was minimal, it was the sort of drink that makes you feel healthier as you sip.

The chili, a stew of peppers, onions, celery, kidney beans, and cashews in a tomato base, was filling and hearty, the crunchy cashews a perfect foil to the softened vegetables. But the dish’s tomato base didn’t coat the vegetables enough. I wanted the elements to gel more like the thick chilies I’m partial to.

The real star of the lunch proved to be the Trident Fries, a basket of deep-fried, thick-cut root vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, beets, and yams. A side of salsa accompanying the fries offered the perfect acidic counterpart. This dish was gone in a flash.

My friend ordered the Trident Chicken Salad ($9.95), a combination of roast chicken, grapes, celery, mayonnaise, apples, and walnuts, all on a bed of romaine. I usually enjoy that mixture of ingredients, flavors, and textures in my chicken salad, but the salad was spread too thin over the lettuce.

Although the lunch items were delicious and affordable, Trident’s breakfast menu does a better job of showcasing this neighborhood hotspot’s culinary expertise. The egg and griddle items never disappoint and make for a delicious lunch.

With its many menu options, Trident feels like the type of place your funky vegan aunt would take you on a trip to the city, or a place where you might meet your humanities professor to discuss some of the authors carried on Trident’s shelves.

Best of all, the place feels like the local hangout for characters in a ’90s TV sitcom, where there’s always a friend—new or old—at a nearby table or barstool. And if there’s not, the service, food, and ambiance will make you feel at home even if you’re all by yourself.

Trident Booksellers and Café is at 338 Newbury St., Boston, between Hereford Street and Mass Ave. The breakfast and lunch menus are offered daily from 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. All major credit cards are accepted. More information is available here or by calling 617-267-8688.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.

Brendan Gauthier can be reached at btgauth@bu.edu.

6 Comments

6 Comments on Lunch, Anyone? Trident Cafe

  • Philippe Bloch on 02.03.2011 at 5:48 am

    Trident cafe

    The author has ordered my two signature dishes at the Trident which I always choose because they are vegan- the cashew chili and the Trident Fries. Both are good (although the reviewer’s critique of the chili may be fair), but the Trident fries have a special place in my heart as “healthy” comfort food lately. I indulge about once a month there and it is very warming against the bitter chill indeed.

    On a separate note, Trident has free wifi available, you just have to provide a valid e-mail address to log in.

    Cheers!

    Philippe

  • Anonymous on 02.03.2011 at 5:52 am

    Boston Lunch Spots

    Although not easily accessible using public transportation from BU, I recommend S&S at Inman Sq in Cambridge.

    Also although you wouldn’t go there just to eat, if anyone is spending a long time at Mass General Hospital, the ‘Eat Street Cafe’ is fabulous. It’s in the basement. MGS saved my life so I know the place well. Let’s say someone needs a fasting blood test in the AM and then has to wait 2 hrs to get his/her results. Just head for the Eat Street Cafe. You will find somemthing for every palate and no one care if you linger over a book.

  • Anonymous on 02.03.2011 at 11:46 am

    great article

    This place is so good, used to go there all the time. Do you know if the have a student discount pay any chance?

  • Jared Champion on 02.03.2011 at 4:11 pm

    Agree to Disagree.

    While I will agree that the food at Trident is good, the service and prices are terrible–initially the prices aren’t so bad, until you realize that every item is essentially a la carte. For example, when you order their lemon ricotta French toast, they will ask you if you want the maple syrup. Of course, what else would you put on them? Only after the bill arrives do you learn the maple syrup is a 2.95 add-on. Also, their bathrooms are filthy to the point that I wouldn’t even #1 in them. The books are overpriced, and the service is terrible. All in all, you are a million-times better off taking a trip to Zaftig’s in Coolidge Corner for breakfast all day, and then the Brookline Booksmith for all your literary needs. As for Trident, in the words of Herman Melville, “I’d prefer not to.”

  • Anonymous on 02.04.2011 at 9:05 am

    This place is in no way affordable for a college student. The service is horrific. Let me mention again that it costs $3.00 for syrup on your pancakes.

  • Richard on 02.12.2014 at 3:29 pm

    Trident was the best cafe shop that I ever been. I’ve traveled to many countries and I could never find another place like this one. The best thing at Trident is to seat at the wooden bar and read articles from great magazines that is right there for you to enjoy while you’re drinking your cup of coffee. For the owners, ” Trident ” reminds me what is the best from Boston and USA.

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