Saturday, July 10, 2010


Turbine is the new wine bar at 56 Central Sq. in downtown Lynn.  It took over the space of the original Gulu-Gulu cafe; a fine establishment that has moved on to Salem and is doing well there.  The Gulu of old died a slow and lingering death and I was happy to see it shutter sooner than later.  I hate watching businesses wilting to oblivion about as much as I enjoy watching a sparrow starve to death... not that I watch sparrows starve to death very often.

If you visited Gulu-Gulu, you'll immediately be taken aback by two things about Turbine:

  1. The obvious familiarity of the space.
  2. The incredible transformation of the space!
The layout is familiar just because it's so hard to do anything about the odd 'L' shaped layout.  Narrow entrance with a fat short elbow at the back.  With that said, Steve, the new owner, a different Steve than the Gulu-Gulu owner, did an incredible job of designing the space to be both different, dramatic, yet comfortable and integral to the neighborhood.  The brick we all love is fully exposed with pieces of art hanging on the wall.  Ok, one piece of art contributed by Sean hanging on the wall.  The ceiling is now black with drop lights and track lights, the walls painted a rich deep, but dark red like the kind working girls sport on a Friday night.  Cafe tables line the way towards the larger back space where there is now a bar at the back with all the liqueurs and wines on display.  A small galley kitchen is behind the bar.

Steve has managed to redesign the space into a dark but inviting industrial space.  It's stark yet warm with the color choices and the openness of the space setting the foundation of its vibe.  It will feel empty and open to some, chic and cool to others.  Probably something in between to most.  In my humble opinion it could use some more warm texture up in the front section.  I imagine a velvet banquet lining most of the length along the brick front wall.  It would use up some of the space and amp up the warmth factor.  I'm sure some will disagree and that's good since my tastes tend to run a little odd anyway.

The food is prepared by chef Dorothy Kaiser.  She studied under David Fitzgerald, chef of OSG and Dowtown Bistro and finished her education at Le Cordon Bleu.  The food is superb.  Turbine serves small plates, which I think is a wonderful idea since I'm trying to stay within my existing pant size.  We're in a recession you know, can't afford to change my entire wardrobe.  The quality is excellent and there is something for everybody.  I'm quite fond of the tuna miso trumpets.   I avoid reviewing specific dishes.  Just go and try it.  You will have little difficulty finding something you like.

I really like the open feel of the back space.  It promotes group conversations.  Plenty of space to stand, drink, and share gossip... which is what we tend to do most of the time in Turbine. Considering the excellent wine and beer selection, it's easy for everyone to find an adult beverage to their liking.  If you're looking for the straight-poop of the happenings of downtown, go to Turbine on Tuesday or Friday night, liquor up some locals, and chat them up. Guaranteed juicy info.

The thing that distinguishes Turbine the most is the exceptionally personable and attentive level of service.  The staff makes sure you are well cared for.  Everyone from the bartender, floor staff, and owner ensure you leave happy and satisfied.  Unfamiliar with a menu item, ask.  Unfamiliar with a wine, ask.  Don't know what you want, ask.  Can't get a date... that's your problem.  You will be educated, served, and invited to try new things.  It's a great way to increase your exposure to good and new food.

There is this guy, Guido. He's Italian, I mean like straight off the boat.  He's also like 100 years old!!  Well, not that old, but close.  In other words, he's seen some really serious shit in his long life.  And, being Italian, Guido understands good food.  Guido is a regular at Turbine.  Maybe you're thinking "so what."  Maybe you're thinking "so, his taste-buds might be dull at that age."  Me, I think you should go there to find out if he knows something you don't. Especially since he's seen stuff you will probably never see or experience in your entire dull miserable life... in caparison to his, that is.

So, go to Turbine.  Pay honmage to Joanna the goddess bartender.  If Guido should be there, be sure to pay your respects.  If you're lucky, he may deem you worthy to school you in what's truly important in life... brush up on your Italian.


1 comment:

Downtown Lynn said...

Very nice write-up Mark. This place is soooo GOOD. I've been going for dinner more then late nights lately. The food is so fantastic. I haven't met Guido yet, but he's quite the talk of Turbine. I'm going to need to introduce myself the next time I am in there.

Everytime we are there, there is a great conversation to be had. Sarah and I were just remarking on the fact that not having a show right now, means we get to spend our free time out with Lynn and it's been great getting to know our neighbors even more.

I couldn't think of a better place to do that then Turbine.