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Restaurants & Bars 14

Yet another Trio report

leek | Jan 5, 200311:09 AM

Hello - this is mostly by my husband, David, with my comments in brackets []. We went to Trio last night to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Trio – Saturday, 4 January 2003 – 8:30 pm

[We entered the hotel lobby – a fire blazed cozily in a room off to one side - and a woman came out of a door down the hall to welcome us to Trio. She made sure we had reservations before bringing us into the room. Throughout the evening, she would follow us back from the washroom and help us back into our chairs. There was also a fire going in here, it had sort of a country inn feel, but the art was modern and the table settings vaguely asian. A waiter/manager? – fellow dressed in a suit – came over to describe the menu to us and explain the different options. He suggested that the 8 course menu was most popular and that the 20 course menu required a substantial commitment in time and appetite. a group of 3 came in at 9:30 or so and ordered the 20 courses. I suppose they left at 2 am, since we started at 8:30 and left at almost midnight. Luckily we only had a 2 1/2 block walk home, which was a good way to clear our heads and settle our food.]

Amuse Bouche – Caramel Corn
Amused the mouth. Which is the point. [It was a sweet candy shell with a savory, buttery, corn liquid inside]

[at this point I could have used something to get the sweet taste out of my mouth, the first sip of the champagne really didn’t go with the candy sweetness]

First Course – Osetra caviar with kola nut granita and frothed milk
First Wine – Aubry NV Brut Champagne
Classic pairing – worked nicely with the combination of sweet, salty and creamy. Sommelier highlighted the Pinot Meunier/Pinot Noir content (15% - not all that high as Champagnes go); would have been even better with a more balanced blend such as Tarlant. [I thought the champagne made the caviar taste fishy – it didn’t before sipping]

Second Course – Raclette et pommes de terre
Second Wine – Ca’ dei Frate 1999 "Brolettino" (Lugana, Italy)
A good accord. This was not a wine with which I was familiar. A Vouvray sec would have worked very similarly. [this was a potato sliced with a foam of raclette cheese over it, and it had tiny pickled vegetables and pumpernickle brioche croutons tossed around it]

[either before or after the raclette course we each got a small warm sourdough roll and some tasty butter – oddly they left the butter on the table long after the rolls were eaten]

Third Course – Wild striped bass, parsley root and leaf, picholine olive, vanilla, bitter orange
Third Wine – Heidi Schrock Ruster Muscat (Burgenland, Austria)
Definitely the best pairing. Drinking this wine alone was an academic exercise – of the kind generally associated with nuns. But it sang with the dish, particularly picking up the olives – and I don’t like olives. [the sea bass was cooked perfectly, crusted with herbs and olives, it had an olive custard/foam and 3 purees – parsley root, leaf and bitter orange – it was the best course]

Fourth Course – Maine lobster, wild mushrooms, rosemary vapor
Fourth Wine – Hubert Lamy 2000 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru "Les Murgers des Dents des Chiens"
You had to be there for the rosemary vapor. It was way strong (they poured boiling water over the rosemary just in case the plant alone wasn’t strong enough for you) but somehow didn’t permeate the food or wine. The best aspect of the wine was the name. But it was not a good accord, much too Californian [meaning it was a buttery, toasty chardonnay, not in the usual French style]. This dish needed a wine to cut the buttery sauce and the sweet lobster, perhaps a Muscadet. [the idea of the vapor is that you will taste the rosemary, since so much of taste is smell – didn’t do it for me – this is also an annoying dish when others get it at different times, it smells so strong it was interfering with my other courses]

Fifth Course – Poached loin of venison, butternut squash, four flavors grated
Fifth Wine – Carmenet 2000 Merlot "Dynamite Vineyards"
The dish was challenging – a side of quinoa was not adequately washed and so had a soapy flavor, and the grated truffles (one of four flavors) imparted a bleach-like odor. [and when another table got the dish, I could smell the chlorine- tang at our table too] [there were 4 small pieces of perfectly cooked venison each with a brussels sprout leaf cup filled with flavored breadcrumbs. the cup and meat sat on a "table" of butternut squash layered over a chocolate cookie] I liked the combination of venison, squash and chocolate (another of four flavors). The wine pairing was a TRAVESTY. It wasn’t as flabby and boring as many California merlots, but this wine simply wasn’t even close to being "up" with the food. A REAL merlot (e.g., from St. Emilion) would have worked way better.

Sixth Course – Ribeye of Elysian Fields farm lamb, cardamom-coffee, lentils, cipollini, date
Sixth Wine – Zenato 1999 Valpolicella "Ripassa"
An acceptable accord, but they had Paolo Scavino 1997 Barolo on the wine list and that would have been even better. Sure, the cost would have been ~$5 extra per person, but when you’re spending over $200 per person on dinner, that’s no big deal. [the lamb was crusted with date and herbs and was very tasty, but for some reason this course was completely over salted. perhaps it was to contrast with the sweetness of the date?]

[Palate Cleanser – Campari ice, grapefruit water, grapefruit cells. I like Campari and grapefruit, but thought the water was too sweet, maybe I was supposed to have it all in one mouthful? David doesn’t like either, so didn’t eat his and they insisted on bringing another which was something creamy, savory and herbal. I didn’t like it, David doesn’t remember what it was]

Seventh Course – Salt roasted pear sorbet, pushed foie gras, mint, Sauternes
Seventh Wine – Bechtolsheimer Homberg Riesling Eiswein (Rheinhessen)
This pairing was fine. A more classic pairing would have been a Sauternes to "bridge" the Sauternes highlight in the dish. What I really wanted with this was a Poire William. [the dish was a gellee – a soft creamy jello – on the bottom, 1/2 the dish was covered with foie gras that had been pushed through a sieve, there were small fresh fruit balls and the sorbet was quite tasty. I am not a huge dessert wine fan, and was feeling very tipsy, so I stopped having the wines. the pours were nearly full glasses and we really didn’t have a lot of food, so I couldn’t handle any more. it was truly a lot of wine, more than I would normally drink]

Eighth Course – Tea-smoked chocolate cake with crystallized nori; chocolate gelée; plum sorbet with pickled plums surrounded by Columbian chocolate sauce
Eighth Wine – Dow 1992 Bomfim Porto
Yes, we know that chocolate and Port is a classic pairing – and this worked fine, although the Port was quite young. But here is where my patience was rewarded. I saved about half the dessert until after finishing the Port, and ordered a pot of Darjeeling tea. This combination ROCKED. It worked not only with the Darjeeling-smoked cake (the "bridge"), but it brought out the flavor of the chocolate jello which had been overwhelmed by the Port. [I didn’t like the nori, but everything else was quite tasty.]

Ninth Course – A test-tube of ingredients including blood orange and baking soda (to make it froth, [according to the waiter who served it])
Ninth Whine – "Yecch!" (Lee tried this, after that recommendation I didn’t.) [the manager/waiter came back and asked if we had liked it, and swore that it didn’t have any baking soda and seemed to think we hadn’t drunk it correctly if we didn’t like it. It was so nasty that sips of David’s tea didn’t clear it out and I couldn’t wait to brush my teeth – not what I want to have lingering on my palate and the end of a meal]

Overall – was this worth $434 for two people? I’d have to say yes, for a special occasion. Real dining is pathetically rare in the US and we got to spend over 3.5 hours doing it. The service was wonderful. And I learned two new phenomenal accords (even if I had to create one myself!).

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