Welcome to the new Cyrus Thursdays, at least that is what my friend Cyrus proposed we call our Thursday gatherings. From the moment I heard that head chef and partner Ryan Hildebrand would open up a new restaurant in the old club space where most of my Asian friends frequented and shared memories, I was excited. I previously experienced Hildebrand’s cuisie at Textile during their chef shuffles. Hildebrand’s menu was essentially the same, more of the same actually. I was largely unexcited to eat the same menu by a different chef, because it really wasn’t showing off what he could really do in the Kitchen.
We now fast forward to a new year, it’s early January and the restaurant has had its soft opening, a few preview dinners to keep the team busy and ready to go. After reading positive tweets and news stories around the web, a few friends and I felt the strong PR force at work trying to hype up the restaurant to what seemed like an over inflated level. We all know Hildebrand is talented, but would the restaurant meet the hype? I’ve had some great memories in the old Crome / Pravada spot, some good, some horrible but they were memories and I was hoping Triniti would make some new ones. Our reservation for 9 was set at 8pm, I came from Anvil, so I was already in a great mood, the entrance to the parking lot is horrid (lowered cars don’t even try it, park on a side street behind the houses or close to the Randalls off Kirby). The valet parking? Complimentary. The door? Large and frosted. The hostess to your left, but your eyes are drawn to the bar behind them, the dining room, to the right. It’s simply fucking gorgeous, if you open a restaurant from this point out, this is your benchmark. I normally could care less about decor as I let food dictate the experience, however Triniti, you’ve beat all the levels with extra lives to spare.
We were seated at a table with full view of the bustling kitchen, I caught a glimpse of Hildebrand and had a short wave hi before taking a look at the cocktail menu. As I said, I just came from Anvil, did I need another drink? Probably not, but I can’t pass up a great Sazerac. Their menu was simple in execution and well laid out, in true “Cyrus Thursday” fashion we ordered a lot of food:
amuse: salmon tar tare with cream fraise and caviar
risotto: bay scallop, pork belly, corn
foie gras ‘breakfast’: brioche toast, bacon, quail egg, fig syrup
veal broth: leek, king trumpet, shaved wagyu, foie gras dumpling
texas quail: duck sausage stuffing, sea island red peas, white cheddar grits, port
sirloin: truffle, brown butter, cauliflower
ribeye: marble potatoes, spinach, sun dried tomato choron
tortellini: sweetbreads, tofu, parsley root puree, sweet scallion broth
striped bass: adzuki, saffron rutabaga, shallots, bok choy, red wine
diver scallop: chickpeas, blood sausage, glazed root vegetables, confit onions
pheasant: bacon, smoked fingerlings, confit, stone fruit mostarda
brussel sprouts: lemon oil, dungeness crab, chorizo
kale: farm egg, pancetta, lemon, olive, white anchovy, pecorino romano
chocolate tart: brown butter ice cream, sea salt
pistachio semi freddo: pistachio paste, chocolate shortbread
cones: selected sorbets & gelatos
roasted peach: honey comb ice cream, vanilla biscuit
rootbeer crème brulee: poached figs, rye ice cream
boxes: boxed chocolates and macaroons
mignardises: marshmallow, chocolate, mango
As the dishes hit the table, it was like the waitstaff of the restaurant had been there for much longer than 2 weeks, my friends questioned how long they were open, a true testament of what we can look forward to at Triniti. As service moved along, Fred Zennati, Director of Operations came by to check up on us and offer a handshake and hello. Dish after dish came out and exceeded any ill notions that I came in with, hell the first bite of the salmon tar tare amuse changed it. The first sight of the risotto had me craving more pork belly with perhaps a crispier skin, the corn popped inside my mouth and the rest of the risotto went down faster than a shot of fernet. My veal broth and tortellini were impressive but not nearly as impressive as the small unassuming kale with anchovies and what would manifest as a nice small breakfast on top (toast, egg and pancetta). I really wanted to order another kale, but the pistachio semi freddo was calling my name.
The gorgeous space elevated the service and food to a new level that Houston is and should now be competing on. This dinner service was one of the best service-wise that I’ve had in a very long time. I’ll be back for lunch service soon enough, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that the space used to be one of my favorite clubs, but I’ll slowly push out the old drunken memories with new memories of sazerac’s, kale and pork belly risotto.
4/5: gorgeous space is gorgeous. tasty food is tasty.
sidenote: As a parting gift, I headed to the bar to get Hildebrand a shot of fernet in celebration of an excellent dinner only to find out there was no fernet branca at his bar. Chef assured me fernet would be making his way (hopefully sooner than later) to this bar. Cheers!
Triniti Restaurant and Bar
2815 South Shepherd
Houston, Texas 77098
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