I stumbled groggily all the way from Copley Place to this three story red building along Newbury Street on a chilly Tuesday morning in January. After life in Arkansas' moist climes, the dry air of New England was taking its toll on my throat, and I needed the comforting resonance of good tea.
I'm sure I could have found something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. I trodded past Dunkin Donuts, passed cutsie coffee klatches, and swung around Starbucks. I was going on the blind hope that the kind recommendation of a passerby, a young woman wrapped far more appropriately for the cold weather, could guide this shivering soul to a place of warmth, gratitude, and good grub.
I was not disappointed.
The idea of combining bookstores and coffeeshops is common now, but it wasn't when Bernie and Gail Flynn opened Trident Booksellers back in 1984. They had a pretty good idea, too -- because back then, there really wasn't a place around where you could peruse books and magazines while sipping on your cuppa joe. Today, sure, you can go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and drink expensive beverages... but that's not the same thing.
The desire to share good literature apparently extends to the menu itself. I found myself immersed in the writing, consumed by thoughts of Eggs Benedict with avocado instead of Canadian bacon (either way, $11.95), Smoked Salmon Scramble (also $11.95), and the enticing eggs-mushroom-chives-tomato-onion-cheddar combination of Breakfast Strata ($9.95). But then the words of my guide came back to me.
"You have to try the French toast -- any of them," she had encouraged.
"You mean there's more than one?" I asked, and was answered with a giggle.
"Of course! And they're made with challah bread!" she'd replied.
My eyes wandered into the second column of the menu -- and there they were. Right along with the malted Belgian waffles and buttermilk pancakes were dreams of French toast -- challah bread dipped in cinnamon egg batter and served up with fresh fruit. My eyes dipped further, and I found my pleasure in the Lemon Ricotta Stuffed French Toast ($9.95) -- topped with blueberries. My search had ended.
I gently poured the tea into my cup, savoring the warmth of the pot and the effervescent thrill of tea vapors entering my lungs. I tasted a bit of the mahogany beverage, and lost myself in the robust intrigue. Satisfied with my choice, I added a bit of half-and-half and indulged in more tea-savoring behaviour.
Richie came over again and again to make sure my breakfast needs were met. I finally asked him what drew him over, and gave his two-fold answer -- it appeared I was weary, and -- a surprise to me -- he was trying to determine the origin of my accent. When I shared that I was from Arkansas, he engaged me in a light discussion of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the wonders of an Ozark spring. Up here they dream of warmer weather, too.
website or call (617) 267-8688. And if you're in town, take the Green Line on the T to the Hynes Convention Center Stop -- it's a heck of a lot closer than Copley.
UPDATE 9/7/17. It's been nearly ten years since I met Richie in that coffeeshop. I'm still flattered when I think about this polite gentleman who just wanted to hear me speak.
Trident Bookseller is still there on Newbury Street, and the first image I saw on its website was that remarkable French toast. If I ever make it back to Boston, I will make a point of stopping in again.
Updating to correct some photo color, add photo credits and a Zomato link.