In this week's cafe review of Triniti, the nearly indefinable restaurant from chef Ryan Hildebrand and his talented team of sous chefs, servers, bartenders, pastry chefs, sommeliers and managers sourced from the city's best restaurants, I struggled with how to define the restaurant itself. Unlike other new restaurants this year such as Underbelly, which promotes itself as "new American Creole" or simply "the story of Houston food," or Uchi, which bills itself as "Japanese farmhouse cuisine," Triniti doesn't attempt to classify what it's doing.
And that may be for the best.
Not only is Triniti difficult to place in terms of its cuisine, it's even difficult to place in the city geographically. Is it in Upper Kirby? Montrose? River Oaks? Its location along Shepherd near West Alabama places it almost in a DMZ-like area, but this simply allows Triniti an additional freedom from being pigeonholed.
Because, in the end, does it really matter if you can put a label on the food when it's this good?
I don't care if a gently seared lobe of foie gras covering a blueberry-buckwheat pancake with strips of bacon and a single, delicate quail egg completing the "breakfast" tableau is called progressive New American or contemporary New American. I don't care if the tumble of red and golden beets amidst a landscape of green, purple and eggshell-colored cauliflower on a plush floor of curried goat cheese is Nordic New American or modern New American.
All I care about is that Hildebrand's food is delicious. It's high-end and creative yet accessible. It's fun to eat, never stuffy and helps to redefine what diners should expect at Houston's new brand of "upscale" restaurants.
Back in March, I wrote of Roost -- the super-casual Montrose bistro from chef Kevin Naderi, which is similarly impossible to pigeonhole -- that we are "living in a post-fusion world."
"So many of our restaurants no longer neatly fit into 'French' or 'New American' or even 'fusion' boxes," I wrote.
"But is this a problem? Should there even be a one-size-fits-all description of restaurants like these? Maybe we should take each one as it comes, an individual as much as any human being is, and describe it based on all the facets of its personality, its foibles and idiosyncrasies and irresistible draws."
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Triniti is the latest and greatest example of this new dining philosophy, and one that fits Houston to a T.