Lunch, Anyone? Trident Cafe
Where breakfast makes the perfect midday meal
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Comments