While much of the talk at Triniti these days is focused on its dramatic new bar—Sanctuari, which was just unveiled last week along with a cocktail-focused beverage program—it's not just the bartenders who've been busy revamping things behind the scenes. Chef Ryan Hildebrand and his team have been tweaking Triniti's line-up to introduce inventive dishes for fall as well as a whole new way to order dinner off the modern American menu.
Naturally, the tasting menus remain intact—after all, this is one of the best ways to taste through Triniti's creations. At dinner, you can still choose from an eight-course chef's tasting menu (the price of which varies according to what Hildebrand serves that night) or a six-course vegetarian tasting menu for $65. And at brunch, the five-course Sunday Feast is still one of the best values in town for only $35.
If you choose to indulge in that eight-course tasting menu at dinner, there's a good chance you'll run into a least a couple of Triniti's new fall dishes. If you're very lucky, you'll land on my two favorites: a tomato soup with pimento cheese "kolache" and a smoked duck with blue cheese spaetzle gratin.
Not only are these two dishes cleverly reworked versions of very Texan comfort food items (the kolache, for instance, is tucked inside a savory pâte à choux), the smoked duck is worth a visit on its own; I've never had anything like it. Hildebrand cold-smokes the duck for only a short amount of time, giving the meat just the right amount of woodsy seasoning. It's cooked to a rosy medium-rare, with a crackly outer skin that's pure heaven. "It's like duck ham," Hildebrand laughed.
If you don't encounter the duck on your tasting menu, don't worry: it's just one of the many items you can order a la carte on Triniti's new menu. Split into small and large plates, the a la carte section allows you to build your own dinner of either small, tapas-style dishes or a more standard progression of appetizer plus entree. You'll find that some of Triniti's classics—its beet salad, its foie gras breakfast—have been reworked for the fall with seasonal ingredients (butternut squash with the beets, for instance), while other dishes are brand new.
And if you've come with a big appetite for just a couple of things rather than a full tasting menu, look to Triniti's new steakhouse-style sidebar of carnivorous delights: a rack of lamb (that serves one or two); a roasted chicken for two with foie gras butter and white asparagus; a USDA Prime New York strip; or the ultra-indulgent A5 Kobe beef from Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan—this one will run you $20 an ounce, but it's worth every Andrew Jackson.
Don't spend all your stomach space on dinner, though; Triniti is one of the few restaurants in Houston these days to employ its own pastry chef, the talented Samantha Mendoza, and you'd be remiss in missing her own clever creations—including the white chocolate "bed" and dark chocolate "donut" above.
I've always been stymied as to why Triniti hasn't received more attention on the national scene; it's every bit the equal, in my opinion, of restaurants such as Oxheart and Underbelly, with added perks such as a full liquor license (you seriously need to try those new cocktails), exceptional service (server Michael Fulmer was recently recognized as My Table's service person of the year), and the fact that you can drop in to enjoy a tasting menu without making a reservation three months out. This fall, turn your fancy to Triniti and you may just find yourself at the most underrated restaurant in town.
Triniti, 2815 S. Shepherd Dr., 713-527-9090, trinitirestaurant.com