Cheap eats

Delicious organized chaos

(Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Sheryl Julian
Globe Staff / October 28, 2009

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Trina’s Starlite Lounge is the coolest place in town. It looks like a dive, one of those 1950s roadside spots that you can’t see into (though Trina’s does have a window on one side). Mysterious nonetheless. Inside, you’re met with a wall of noise, a crush of people, friendly staff, and bartenders who seem to be able to lip-read. In this hipster crowd you’ll see lots of National Health Service glasses, narrow-brimmed hats, long colorful knit scarves.

This was the former Abbey Lounge. New owners Trina and Beau Sturm bartended around town, she at City Bar in the Lenox Hotel, he at Highland Kitchen in Somerville. Third partner Joshua Childs is a co-owner of Silvertone Bar & Grill in Boston. Fourth partner Jay Bellao shares general manager duties.

Several things are making Trina’s wildly popular a month after opening. It’s hardly decorated - a few posters here and there to suggest the ’50s - and it’s welcoming and unpretentious. It seems chaotic, but runs smoothly. Skilled bartenders remember your drinks, reception remembers the number in your party. You might not realize what a finely tuned operation this is.

The kitchen is open until midnight. That’s when you can get a good draft beer and “dog of the day’’ (about $5); a plump Kayem all-beef dog with sauerkraut is divine. If you need something to keep all those drinks company, order fries loaded with chili and cheddar ($6).

Trina’s has two bars, one you can’t see at first. If the first is too crowded (probably is, made more so by a no-reservations policy), keep walking to the second. If you get a seat, dig into succulent wings with a Great Hill Blue cheese sauce ($7), or feathery crab cakes with aioli ($9).

Food arrives fast and hot. Suzi Maitland, formerly of the Metropolitan Club, is in the kitchen, sometimes with menu consultant Greg Reeves of Green Street Grill. Beautifully flaky baked haddock ($15) is on a bed of spinach with delectable smoky sweet potato hash. A hefty dish of crisp onion rings ($4) are quite crunchy; hand-cut fries ($4) are good and thick. A satisfying smoked turkey BLT ($8) has lovely flavors. Mac & cheese ($9), which looks pinky with Velveeta, is covered with Ritz crackers. At first we think it’s passable. When the waitress goes to take it, a few forks pitch forth to grab the last tasty shells.

Luscious fried chicken ($17) has a beautiful coating. I cut into the waffle it’s sitting on, which is so hard, it goes flying across the plate, sending a pitcher of hot pepper syrup (read: sticky) all over me. It’s the only misstep here, immediately followed by someone appearing out of nowhere with a cloth napkin and glass of seltzer. Was it the bartender who reads lips? If so, thank you.


3 Beacon St., Somerville,

617-576-0006, Visa, MC, and Discover cards accepted;

restrooms accessible.

Prices Appetizers, sandwiches, dogs, burgers $3-9; entrees $13-$19 (one item over

Cheap’s $18 limit).

Hours Daily 5 p.m.-1 a.m.

(kitchen closes at midnight).

Liquor Full license.

May we suggest Wings,

crab cakes, baked haddock, onion rings, chili cheese fries, hot dog.

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