A Sanctuari for More Than Cocktails

It's easy to see why this is named "Aquarium." A layer of Wagyu tallow supports tiny purple cauliflower florets, frisée, a few salmon roe and staves of in-house made gherkins, dividing them from the creamy, savory panna cotta of smoked Chilean sea bass at the bottom of the glass.
It's easy to see why this is named "Aquarium." A layer of Wagyu tallow supports tiny purple cauliflower florets, frisée, a few salmon roe and staves of in-house made gherkins, dividing them from the creamy, savory panna cotta of smoked Chilean sea bass at the bottom of the glass.
Photo by Phaedra Cook

More often these days, when I'm looking for a happy hour or a hangout, my thoughts are turning to Triniti. More accurately, I'm seeking Sanctuari, where the food is atypically luxurious for a bar setting.

The bar menu is a taste of Triniti with no reservation required. There's nothing stopping anyone from just dropping in and after the remodel of the lounge, there's plenty of seating available. When it's just me and a friend, though, I prefer to sit at the bar counter, watch the goings-on behind the scenes and pick my way through the bar bites menu. No matter what my mood is, they seem to have something I want.

There's a veal Bolognese on the menu that my husband declared "pretty darn good." It's a satisfying comfort dish for a cold night and herbed ricotta and charred tomatoes add to the homey feel.

Sanctuari's beef tartar sports a sunny quail egg in the middle
Sanctuari's beef tartar sports a sunny quail egg in the middle
Photo by Phaedra Cook

They're also serving one of the best beef tartars in town. A lovely little quail egg accents and moistens a generous round of soft meat perfectly balanced by the right amount of capers. There's frisée to add a touch of crispness, and pale, puffy crackers scattered around for scooping everything up. Still, a fork is needed to polish off the generous portion.

For a whole lot of variety on a single plate, order the trio of fancy toasts. Each has a unique personality unto itself. The prize is the mushrooms, artichoke and arugula pesto version with red onion jam on Parmesan brioche.

The trinity of toasts is rather filling and each individual creation is quite different from the others.
The trinity of toasts is rather filling and each individual creation is quite different from the others.
Photo by Phaedra Cook

Another, with warm slices of new potatoes and corn, is more like comfort food but even this one is fancied up with a saucing of blue cheese béchamel. The beet toast is to unwieldy to pick up--the big chunks of beets tend to roll off--but a fork solves that problem just fine.

While they won't be winning any beauty contests, Devils on Horseback are simply some of the best bar food ever. These are figs stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped with crisp rounds of bacon. A vanilla gastrique adds fragrant moisture. These are a might good pairing with just fine with the $12 "Bitter, Brown and Stirred" cocktail, a sidecar variant of Pierre Ferand 1840 Cognac, Grand Marnier, Cynar, lemon oleo sacrum and Fernet bitters.

The traffic on Shepherd is frightful, but finding a Sanctuari for an hour or two is delightful. Just sit at the window and have some sympathy for the poor drivers slogging past. They won't be having nearly as much fun.


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