2815 South Shepherd Dr.
Houston, TX 77098
Like Underbelly or Uchi, Triniti is one of those restaurants that the entire Houston foodiesphere (shut up) has been buzzing about for way too long. Restaurant anticipation is kind of like the five stages of grief, but instead of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, we have excitement, desire, impatience, apathy, and satisfaction (or not). First you excitedly hear rumors of a restaurant opened by a chef who previously worked at a famous restaurant (excitement), then you can’t wait for the restaurant to open (desire), the opening date keeps getting delayed (impatience), you proclaim to everyone that you’re “so over waiting for _________ restaurant to open” (apathy), and finally when it does open, you’re the first one in line and you order every single thing on the menu you’ve been reading about.
Okay, maybe that analogy was a stretch, but this was exactly how Triniti came to be, at least for me. Led by Ryan Hildebrand (formerly of Textile), the Triniti’s dream team did not disappoint our many months of anticipation. Typical of Houston, Triniti is in between a strip mall and Starbucks. However, when you step inside, you’re instantly transported into one of the hottest restaurants in New York, from the crowd of beautiful people at the bar to the glitzy but chic interior. It reminds me of a dressed up version of Canopy on Montrose—soft wood, sculptural lighting, chic atmosphere. Similarly, the food was well thought out, not simplistic, but not fussy.
She ate: Triniti had a very impressive and creative cocktail list, but I wasn’t in a cocktail mood so I had my default drink. While I wasn’t terribly impressed by their scotch or bourbon list, I was happy to sip on my McCallan in such a beautiful glass.
Winter Flip (Buffalo Trace bourbon, butterscotch schnappe, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla infused cream, egg yolk, nutmeg):
He ate: The Winter Flip reminds me of a Toasted Almond cocktail (amaretto, Kahlua, cream). It’s good, like a port flip but with whiskey. The whiskey is definitely there. It’s a drink where the cocktail takes precedence over all other ingredients. You take a sip and you immediately recognize that it’s a whiskey cocktail. I love cocktails with egg yolks or egg whites, so this was a hit for me.
She ate: I have a much higher tolerance for strong whiskey, and for me this drink, while delicious, was overwhelmed by butterscotch. If you want a butterscotch dessert cocktail, this is for you.
Derby (bourbon, benedictine, angustura bitters):
He ate: Super citrusy, super whiskey-y, I don’t particular love this cocktail, but it works well because the citrus and whiskey don’t get in the way of each other. You’re able to enjoy each element separately.
She ate: I didn’t try this, sorry!
Celery Root (apple textures, cinnamon cream):
He ate: I loved this soup. It’s like no other soup I’ve ever had. It’s light but creamy at the same time, which is an interesting combination. The apple on the side was a great touch to the hint of cinnamon in the soup.
She ate: When Aaron suggested getting this soup, I was very meh on it. I’m not a huge fan of bisques unless it has lobster in it. I don’t really like pureed soups in general—I like clear broth with chunks of ingredients in it, mostly of the wonton variety. I guess it’s the Asian in me (cue dirty joke). Although I don’t know if I would get this soup again other than to satisfy my “did I really like it last time?” curiosity, I have to say this is one of the best bisques I’ve ever had. In addition to being creamy and light at the same time, it was savory with a bit of sweet…a perfect dichotomy.
Foie gras ‘breakfast’ (brioche toast, bacon, quail egg, fig syrup):
He ate: I thought this was really well prepared and cooked. I’ve had a lot of foei gras, so this didn’t blow me away, but the combination of bacon, foie gras, and quail egg was unique.
She ate: I thought this dish was too easy, although delicious. Maybe there’s something to be said about keeping things simple…but Triniti managed to make something simple complicated, but then brought it back to simple again. The foie gras was well cooked and seasoned and the bacon was perfectly crispy (I’ve had some unfortunate bacon experiences lately—too crispy, not fatty enough, tastes like fish(?!?)). This dish was a success, but not as creative as other dishes on their menu. Part of what sets Triniti apart is their ability to successfully pair unexpected ingredients, and well, egg+bacon+foie gras+toast? Not so unexpected.
Kale (farm egg, pancetta, lemon, olive, white anchovy, pecorino romano):
He ate: When the waiter explained that this was a deconstructed caesar salad concept, I almost slow clapped him. Really, deconstructed? So 2005. But when I tasted it, I really liked it. I loved the rolled up white anchovies, and I usually hate anchovies. The pancetta was fried perfectly, and the cheese and the bread gave it a very distinct flavor.
She ate: I really loved this dish. I read about it in two other blogs/articles, and was trying to not get too excited over it, as hype often leaves me disappointed (Joyful Noise much? Kidding…) The barely poached egg made for a nice dressing over the crisp, blanched-for-30-seconds kale leaves, which were crisp without being raw.) The bread was nice and buttery, but nothing special. The pancetta was a nice savory touch, in addition to the anchovies and olives thoughtfully placed on the corners.
Pheasant (bacon, smoked fingerlings, confit, stone fruit mostarda)
He ate: The pheasant tasted like fatty pork, crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. Like the rest of our dishes, this was very well cooked. I ate everything too fast to notice the accoutrements, sorry!
She ate: I’ve been obsessed with trying pheasant ever since I saw Some Like it Hot ten years ago. I was so excited to order this dish and talked Aaron out of getting the sirloin steak (in hindsight, a mistake). It was sort of a cross between pork and chicken. I disagree with Aaron and thought the pheasant was a bit dry, but the sour cherries paired well with it. Not worth the $29 price tag.
Tortellini (sweetbreads, tofu, parsley root puree, sweet scallion broth)
He ate: This was like a tortellini city, everything was scattered on the plate with strategic places for living and meeting. It was really good. It was the least expensive entree, and because of that it had the least amount of food (I’m guessing). The circular gelatin things, I don’t know what they were, were delicious and buttery. I could’ve used more of it. Whenever I order pasta, there’s never enough of it, which is the opposite of what the pasta experience should be. When you order pasta, you should always get way more pasta than you want, I feel. You should always have leftover pasta.
She ate: I liked the texture of the tortellini skin, but I was unable to taste sweetbreads, which usually has a distinct taste and texture. I’m not sure how this happened. It kind of tasted like a non-creamy cheese filling. I appreciate the creativity of serving the tortellinis with tofu, although I’m not sure what the point was because neither the sweet breads or tofu had any flavor, since tofu is by nature bland.
Root beer creme brulee (poached figs, rye ice cream)
He ate: I don’t know what the fuck they’re thinking. When you get a creme brulee, you expect boiled cream. That’s literally what it translates to. What I got was a deconstracted fucktard. I don’t know what the heck this is. I had to ask our waiter twice if this was in fact their creme brulee, because this was not what I was expecting. It looks like two soft serve ice cream with some figs. I was very befuddled.
She ate: This dessert reminds me of Chris Leung’s desserts back when Bootsie’s was still open. I was never a huge fan of Yu’s desserts, but Aaron was so I’m surprised he didn’t like this. The gelatin poo thing didn’t have any flavor or richness, the crispy sugar was not burned so just tasted like…well, sugar. The ice cream was ok (I couldn’t taste the rye flavor), although honestly they could have gone with Blue Bell and I would have been happier. The crumb dust was boring, and the pickled figs did nothing to enhance the dessert.
Chocolate tart (brown butter ice cream, sea salt):
He ate: This was better than the root beer fucktard, but could have used more sea salt to balance the sweetness. Overall I thought the desserts were misses. I had high expectations for dessert after the excellent dinner, but they were crushed after we were served.
She ate: This dessert was much better, but it’s a traditional chocolate pastry, so not much you can do to mess it up. In my mind, a tart has a crust with a soft filling. This was more like a thin brownie, which is fine, just not what I expected. Once again, I couldn’t taste the flavor in the ice cream (it’s supposed to be brown butter). It tasted just like vanilla ice cream to me.
Mango balls with chocolate truffles:
He ate: This was the complimentary end of the meal dessert. I would have gladly paid for this instead of the above two desserts. You pop the mango balls in your mouth and it kind of explodes with juice. The truffles were rich and rounded out the meal nicely.
She ate: I wasn’t as big of a fan as Aaron about the mango…it reminded me of a nicer version of canned peaches. The truffles were good, but after the two disaster fails, I think I was too jaded to appreciate anymore sweets from Triniti.
tl; dr: Go to Triniti for an interesting and well-made meal, but skip the desserts.