A few evenings ago, I attended the media/food blogger happy hour at Trio. I had never been there before, and I’m happy to say that now I’d love to go back!
The space is beautiful… of course, you can’t really go wrong in the Four Seasons Hotel. My favorite part was the patio, overlooking Ladybird Lake and furnished with comfy couches and tables. If it weren’t for the mosquitos, it would have been perfect.
The service was impeccable… Chef de Cuisine Todd Duplechan and Sommelier Mark Sayre were on hand the entire evening to make recommendations, answer questions, and chat about food and wine. There were waitstaff everywhere, making sure glasses were filled and plates were cleared. I don’t know whether our fabulous service was simply because it was a media event, but I’m willing to give it another shot on my own.
Did I mention that during happy hour, the appetizers and wines are half-off? I think normally I might balk at a $15 tuna tartare, or a $19 glass of champagne. But at half-off? Give me one of everything on the menu!
And actually, that’s exactly what the staff did. We tried every appetizer, several wines, and several desserts. I was amazed at how generous the restaurant was.
Here’s a run-through of what we tasted:
Oh, disclaimer: I forgot my camera. 🙁 So these photos are from my iphone, and they don’t do the food justice.
Baked gulf oysters with shrimp, bacon and shoestring potato. Very bacony, very good.
Seared beef sashimi with fava beans and glass noodles. This had a great flavor to it, and was a bit spicy.
Tuna tartare with avocado and soy lime vinaigrette. I LOVED this one… it was served with the long crackers that are pictured below. In my book, you can’t go wrong with sesame oil and lime. Or avocado. Or raw tuna.
Garam-masala rubbed pork ribs with muscat grape gastrique. The chef actually bought a piglet, and it was fed nothing but pecans until it was slaughtered. I really wanted to see if that made a difference in the flavor of the pork, but the ribs were pretty spicy and seasoned, so that nuance was lost. They were still really good though, and really tender.
Mussels with blue cheese, prosciutto and riesling broth. Mussels aren’t my favorite thing… they taste too… mossy somehow. But paired with chunks of prosciutto? Perfect.
Smoked shrimp croquettes with green mango puree, fennel and pickled sugar plums. Now these were good. The smokiness of the shrimp was lovely, they were perfectly fried – not too oily, and the pickled sugar plums really sealed the deal.
Crab fondue with herb bruschetta. My first thought was that the fondue was really bland, but I think that is only in comparison to the spicy flavors of the other appetizers we were enjoying. Eaten on its own with the bruschetta, it had great subtle flavors. I think I wanted the fondue to be a bit thicker… it seemed more like a thin bechamel.
Texas cheese plate. Oh, how I love cheese. I wish I could remember which dairies were featured here, but I only remember that we tried (from top to bottom), a Bosque blue, a taleggio-like cheese that got all soft and creamy as it lowered in temperature, a fabulous queso fresco with epazote, and a goat cheese wrapped in hoja santa.
There were also truffle fries that I somehow missed, but I heard they were good (and rich). I also didn’t get a photo of the lamb sliders with tzatziki and cumin. These were really tasty, but my favorite part was the bread. Todd used eggy potato bread to try to replicate that school-cafeteria soft roll goodness from his youth.
Also missing from the photos was the chipotle cheddar mac-n-cheese. I know I’m weird, but chipotle is not my favorite chile. Still, these were tasty, and I was pleasantly surprised at the texture of the macaroni… it was still al dente, unlike most gooey mushy mac-n-cheeses I’ve had.
I was really happy with the wine list, but I think having Mark nearby to walk me through it made it even better. I had a glass of the Gilbert Picq Chablis, which was so smooth and so silvery. (I love wine, but my wine vocabulary is nonexistent… I often describe wine as tasting velvety or jumpy or something odd.) I also tried a glass of the Palacios Remondo Rioja Crianza, which was smoky and delicious. I took a whiff and told my friend, “it smells like fireworks!” Yep, I’m weird like that.
I was really happy with all of the food, but I have to say that I was REALLY happy with the desserts. Unfortunately, I didn’t write anything down or get photos, but seriously, they were good. There was a blackberry napoleon with a tiny macaroon on top, a flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream, a warm chocolate bread pudding with chocolate foam, and an amazing peanut butter-chocolate crunch with liquid grape jelly and a milk shooter. They were inventive and fun, and all of them tasted wonderful.
Aaaah, happy hour. With such great wines and foods, it really is happy.