Posts Tagged ‘Josh Childs’

August 31st, 2010

Silvertone Bar & Grill – Best Boston bars

Established: 1997
Specialty: Wine, cocktails
Prices: Low to moderate
Atmosphere: Retro-tinged neighborhood joint, bartender’s bar and classic downtown Boston destination, all in one. See Best Boston bars for address and contact info.

In the world of contemporary Boston bars, Silvertone is an elder statesman that’s still very much an influential player — and a faithful drinking buddy to boot.

Co-proprietor Josh Childs opened the place in 1997 in a “weird little tucked-away space” on Bromfield Street. Silvertone (named after the brand of mid-century radios, amps and guitars coveted by collectors) was an unusual and immediately appreciated concept at the time, the time being pre-No. 9 Park, pre-Mantra, pre-”ladder district” … basically pre-Downtown Crossing as a hip destination. Cheap, satisfying comfort dishes (mac n’ cheese, steak tips), a mere $10 markup on good bottles of wine, a tastefully retro diner-meets-lounge look, and a warm, competent staff beckoned the business-people, lawyers (Suffolk Law School is a neighbor) and restaurant-industry folk who were and are still key elements of Silvertone’s clientele.

From the start, Silvertone showed particular love toward that latter group — our hardworking servers, bartenders, chefs, etc — by keeping its kitchen open until 11:00 (hardly anyone outside Chinatown was doing that in ’97), hiring a solid, loyal bar staff and doing a “good last call,” says Childs, who can still be found behind the bar on Tuesday nights serving drinks right up until 2:00 a.m. (Silvertone’s other longtime bartender, Cedric Adams, and his colleague Michael Stevens, are “like bookends,” each working three nights apiece.) Before they became celebrity chefs and restaurateurs, Ken Oringer, Andy Husbands, Barbara Lynch and Garrett Harker dropped in regularly after their shifts, and before they became celebrity wine and cocktail consultants, Steve Olsen and Willy Shine were admirers.

Which brings us to Silvertone’s liquid legacy. It might not have been as influential on our city’s current cocktail scene as the B-Side, but, in addition to listing the Negroni on its first drink menu, Silvertone does have the distinction of pioneering the Boston restaurant industry’s obsession with the insanely medicinal Italian digestivo Fernet Branca. Early on, its back bar also boasted Chartreuse VEP, Blanton’s bourbon (before boutique bourbon became a staple) and a dozen single-malt scotches.

These days, says Childs, who opened Trina’s Starlite Lounge in 2009, there’s a greater appreciation at Silvertone for cocktails — e.g. sour mix gave way to fresh citrus a while back. But it’s “still a bar,” where shots and beers are regularly ordered, he says. “There’s something to be celebrated about being a good bar.”

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April 20th, 2010

Trina’s Starlite Lounge – Best Boston bars

trinas-front-bar

Established: 2009
Specialty: cocktails, High Life
Prices: Low to moderate
Atmosphere: Retro but not kitschy. Top-notch hospitality without the VIP price tag. Unofficial motto: Be yourself and have a good time. See Best Boston bars for address and contact info.

Remember those cool kids in high school or college who got along with everyone and threw the best parties? They grew up and opened a bar called Trina’s Starlite Lounge (3 Beacon St., Somerville).

Josh Childs, Trina and Beau Sturm, and Jay Bellao have collective decades of experience tending bar in Boston, and Childs is still co-owner of one of Boston’s most beloved establishments, Silvertone. This group’s level of hospitality is right up there with the city’s top-notch dining rooms, but VIP treatment at the Starlite comes dressed in T-shirts and tattoos and for the price of a hot dog and a High Life. And it comes without anyone looking harried; the staff often seems to be having as good a time as their guests. Many of those guests, in fact, are fellow restaurant industry folk who made this bar a favored haunt almost immediately after it opened in September 2009. The Starlite’s Industry Brunch on Mondays is testament to the goodwill between Childs, Sturm, Ballao & Co. and their colleagues. (Monday brunch is open to the general public, too.)

The drink list changes seasonally and tilts more toward accessibility than artisanal purity. That said, it doesn’t dumb things down. Even cocktail geeks can find items that grab them, like the Tony Montana (Pyrat rum, Benedictine, Carpano Antica, orange bitters, $9). Also, the bartenders have the skills — along with the quality spirits and house-made mixers — to accommodate off-menu requests. As for beer, High Life has the kind of cult status at the Starlite that PBR enjoyed a few years ago. You can even order it by the bucket (five pony-sized bottles for $11). Blessedly, there are a few craft beer options (Stone Pale Ale, Saison Du Pont) for those times when you want a brew that doesn’t taste like melted Crayons. The wine list is decent, too, and the food is classic American comfort fare like fried chicken and buttermilk waffles, homemade soup and the wacky DOTD (dog of the day).

Oh, another good thing about the Starlite, besides its affordability, is that there are two separate bars and dining areas with two distinct personalities. For all the regulars who have adopted this lounge as their living room away from home, this is a great way to mix things up.

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