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Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Review: Evolutions at Trio in Cottonwood

Last Saturday night my sister and I went to Trio at the Cottonwood Heights location. My sister, Lottie Ann, lives out that way and told me how originally Trio had taken the location from a popular restaurant known as Rivers. She said Trio changed the space and the food so much that she had stopped going there. So she was happy to be able to take a fresh look at the place.

My friend, and occasional wine-tasting buddy, Christian Freich, has taken the helm for both of the Trio restaurants. Christian worked in Park City for several years managing Bill White eateries and has now come back to the valley to do his magic. Christian was the manager of Whaso for a while which, in my opinion, may be the best restaurant in Utah. One thing you must know about Christian is that he is an expert sommelier and has been to culinary school, quite a pedigree these days for a restaurant manager.

When my sister and I arrived at Trio, we were in the middle of that late snowfall and I truly suspected the place to be pretty calm. I was wrong. It was packed and the parking lot was full. We walked through a door that used to enter into the bar but now the bar has a new name and is separate from Trio but it is still serving the Trio food to its guests. The bar looked inviting and fun and reminded me of New Orleans. At the front of the restaurant there is a beautiful patio for outdoor dining, too bad we were having an April winter!

We were met by Christian who had saved us a nice alcove where we could view all the goings on, and I really liked the colorful booths and contemporary paintings on the walls. Once again, both Lottie and I were reminded of our trip to New Orleans. It was prom night and teenage girls were floating by in tool and taffeta. I don’t know why but it made both of us, two old confirmed bachelors, laugh and laugh!

Our food was delightful. Christian brought us pizza-oven flat bread topped with caramelized onions and sided with a delicious goat cheese spread laced with herbs, roasted tomatoes and red bell peppers, a great beginning. We washed down this very nice starter with a glass of Vietti Arneis, a wine special ordered by Trio. Arneis reminds me of the French Viognier; it’s full-bodied, honeyed, fragrant and a bit peachy. We loved it with the flat bread.

One of the specials was crepe cannelloni filled with crab and shrimp and then ladled with a creamy tomato sauce and three cheeses. We had the waiter bring us just one of the cannelloni as an appetizer and we loved it. The cheese was hot and stringy and I enjoyed the sauce which is similar to one I make myself. In New Orleans they call it remolade but I make it as a simple cream sauce and then add tomato paste till I get the color and flavor I want. I’m sure they make it differently at Trio but you get the idea. The cannelloni was so delicious we could have eaten more.

Our waiter was a friendly and nice looking young man who took over when Christian had to leave to go to the other restaurant downtown. He had Lottie try the tuna which seemed a bit complicated to me and I told him to surprise me but I wanted some kind of meat. The waiter brought me the short-ribs but handed them to me reluctantly.

The tuna was served in an orange sauce, just a tad sweet, and came on a bed of nicely made risotto. On top, there was a poof of those rockets greens in light vinaigrette. The tuna was fully cooked, not just seared which for an entrée is just the way I like it.

On my plate were three, nicely braised short-ribs a la Yankee pot roast. The ribs were crisp on the outside and very tender and soft inside. They were served with a yummy, creamy polenta and a brunoise of veggies. I did have some comments about the ribs, as I knew the waiter wanted me to have either the steak or the pork. I thought the ribs needed to be served with a nice brown sauce and a lot of it, and I would have liked to see large chunks of carrots and other root vegetables on the side rather than the smaller kibble-like chunks, but the flavor was there and I enjoyed my meal. Some of our dishes were beautifully plated. The flat bread and the tuna were exceptionally beautiful to look at.

From my cellar I brought a New Zealand Cloudy Bay un-oaked Chardonnay. For an un-oaked chard, this had great body and depth and a really beautiful nose. Since I rarely drink Chardonnay it was a nice change and I will readily recommend this wine to my customers at the wine store.

For dessert we had a house-made, apple Betty topped with vanilla bean ice cream; delicious and a perfect end to our wintry supper. If you’re like my sister, and have stopped going to the Trio in Cottonwood, it’s time to go back. With the guidance of Christian Freich, I know it will just get better and better. I rate it at 89 points.

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About the author

Chef Drew Ellsworth

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