Triniti's New Seasonal Menu a Lovely, Leisurely Taste of Fall

Every meal at Triniti makes an impact. From a dinner with coworkers, to cocktails with girlfriends, to an anniversary brunch with out-of-town family, each meal exceeds the last in both beauty and flavor. We've never left the table at Triniti without a newcomer commenting on the lovely décor, and welcoming atmosphere. So when Chef Ryan Hildebrand added a seasonal tasting menu to the mix--one featuring fall's best vegetables--the invitation to preview the dishes couldn't be passed up.

The six-dish Vegetarian Tasting Menu is an excellent complement to the eight-course Chef's Tasting Menu--and a very good value at $65. (Add wine pairings for an additional $45.) There are several more new dishes featured on Triniti's current menu--a cassoulet of pork and a smoked duck, for example--so dedicated meat lovers should inquire about all of the new dishes with their server. Vegetarians and curious carnivores--advance directly to the veggie tasting menu.

As far as evoking the flavors of autumn, Hildebrand and company deliver all the greatest hits. You've got your squash, your (Brussels) sprouts, your rustic whole-grains; you've got mushrooms and polenta and tomato soup. The presentations are pretty but not precious. If there is a smear of puree, or a smattering of infused oil on the plate, there's a good reason--it's not there just because it can be, but because it belongs. When you're talking about something as simple as tomato soup, that's important. Who wants tomato soup to feel unapproachable? Triniti's version--with a delightful pimento cheese kolache and eggplant jam--is so approachable, there was barely time for a photo.

Triniti is also making the most out of mushrooms. From the vegetarian tasting menu there's the 'Gnocchetti'--tiny gnocchi with "tofu ham" and Brussels sprouts in a smoked mushroom broth that is very rich, and very satisfying. If you're exploring items from the rest of the menu, the mushroom panna cotta is intense, and great for sharing. Don't be scared by a savory panna cotta--embrace it, and the corn, peas, frisee, and mushrooms that give your palate a break from the savory cream.

The other standout dish from the vegetarian tasting menu was the eggplant parmesan. This humble little dish (my death row last meal) might not be everyone's first choice, but Hildebrand's version might make you think twice. It doesn't look like Grandma's Sunday dinner version, but the Buffalo mozzarella-topped caponata and the crunchy parmesan dust sure taste like it. Using frisee instead of spinach or basil is unexpected, and kind of genius, as it gives a dish full of soft, comforting textures a fresh crunch.

Naturally there are a few more items on the menu to explore. A wheatberry and faro salad with honey roasted chick peas is a hearty break between tomato dishes (soup and eggplant). The final savory dish is an airy polenta with a crispy crust served alongside squash, goat milk feta, and crispy sage leaves that leaves you just enough room for dessert--in my case, chocolate with strawberries three ways and pistachio ice cream. If six courses feels intimidating, rest assured that yet another strength of service at Triniti is pacing. Leave yourself a couple of hours to enjoy the full menu--not to mention an aperitif, a digestif, and that optional wine pairing during the meal. In short--don't rush anything, except the call for a reservation.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Christina Uticone