A Preview of Triniti Restaurant

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For the past year, Chef Ryan Hildebrand has been without a kitchen. But the former Executive Chef of Scott Tycer's Textile Restaurant has had a new project in the works. And though the road has been long one, he's finally reached his destination.

Triniti Restaurant, his brand-spanking new flagship restaurant at 2815 South Shepherd Drive just north of West Alabama, is finally set to open on Christmas Eve, kicking off with a special $95 prix-fixe menu for the occasion; reservations are being accepted now.

I had the chance to walk through the gorgeous space this past week, which, even in its pre-opening stage, could win a prize as one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city.

Entirely redesigned by local firm MC2 Architects, the glass-walled construction is light, bright, and modern, and almost incongruous when set in contrast with its surrounding retail spaces. With a high surrounding wall erected around the patio to block out the outside world, it's a mini-oasis in the midst of an otherwise chaotic, busy street. At night, however, the flashing neon Darque Tan sign can still be seen peeping over the top of the wall, while white Christmas lights highlight a Thai massage place across the street.

"That's Houston," Hildebrand said good-naturedly as we stood on the the 40-seat patio where The Office of James Burnett, the design firm that did Rice University's Brochstein Pavilion, had created an intimate space with water features, trees and a chef's garden.

Inside, the open layout of the main dining room has a lofty, industrial feel, while the finishing interior design elements, chosen entirely by Hildebrand and MC2 lead architect Chung Nguyen, add a glamorous element to the otherwise clean lines, and understated clean wood finishes of the chairs and polished wooden floors.

And in the far corner of the room, placed in such a way that it can be seen from any part of the restaurant hung the Pièce de résistance, an eye-catching golden-orbed chandelier sculpture by British Designer Tom Dixon.

The shiny, large, open kitchen at the end of the main dining room will give diners glimpses of some of the magic happening in the kitchen, while a 14-seat chef's table is set directly in front of the kitchen, where guests can request tasting menus written specifically for them.

Hildebrand describes the Triniti menu as "progressive, regional American cuisine with California/West Coast sensibilities." For dinner, starters will be in the $10 range, with main entrees priced in the mid-$20's to low-$30's.

Chef de Cuisine Jose Hernandez, sous chefs Greg Lowry and Matthew Lovelace, and General Manager/Sommelier Fred Zennati make up the rest of the Triniti team.

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