Having been a longtime fan of Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there’s only one of them to go around. The re-branding of Audubon Boston, just outside of Kenmore Square, doesn’t entirely remedy that, but since it’s from the same operating team, it will have to do.
The owners of Trina’s recently took over the space formerly known as Audubon Circle, and while it won’t have the same neo-dive atmosphere, they plan to transform it into the type of neighborhood spot with tricked-out comfort food, craft beer, and cocktails that they’re known for. They already know the space well; in fact, it’s where two of the co-owners, Beau Sturm and J Bellao met while working together years ago.
“I was 20 and I got hired here by Beau,” Bellao says. “He was the general manager and he hired me as a bar back, washing dishes, working the door, and one thing lead to another. I just loved it here …The area is wonderful, and the neighborhood is up and coming.
“We’re trying to institute the same kind of neighborhood, everybody’s welcome vibe we have over at Starlite, just in another neighborhood.” In part, that means carrying over chef Suzi Maitland’s cooking, but giving it room to breathe. “Suzi is one of the most talented chefs I know. Getting her out from behind the ‘dog of the day’ and 3-4 hamburgers menu, she can come out and do some really fun stuff. We wanted to do something different, not necessarily southern food, but people being able to be social, a lot of shared plates.”
For the cocktail program, they’ve begun with a short list of classics, and, having kept most of the staff on board, plan to expand outward from the basics. Among the new bar staff is Tyler Wang, recently of Kirkland Trotter and Tap, and formerly of No. 9 Park. His Fire In the Orchard cocktail, made with apple brandy, mezcal, pear liqueur, Lillet, lemon and agave is one of the standouts on the menu at the moment. Elsewhere they’ve pulled from throughout classic cocktail tomes for inspiration, highlighting standbys like the Hanky Panky, made with gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet Branca, and The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail made with aged rum, orange liquer, velvet falernum and lime.
“Right now our cocktail list is an educational program for all of us,” Bellao says. “The clientele that’s coming in, maybe the place itself wasn’t a cocktail destination before, but a place to come in have a beer, a glass of wine, cheap bites. Now we want the cheap bites, and to be up to par with anything in the area. We’re never going to be Eastern Standard, or Hawthorne, they’re the best, but there’s no reason we can’t have fun and put out some rad cocktails.”