Judging from the crowds at the new Cafe Trio on Main Street, I must be the only one in town who is not a huge fan.
I was always skeptical of the ambitious menu at their old venue on Broadway. How can a kitchen make that many dishes well? When I heard that the new menu had been pared a bit, with an emphasis on small plates, I was excited to give it a whirl.
We arrived during Happy Hour and were lucky to snag a table on the outdoor deck. It’s attractive, with a long, narrow bar and a water mister to keep customers cool in hot weather. The view is among the best around, overlooking JC Nichols fountain and the Plaza. And, best of all, reservations are taken for outdoor tables–I can’t think of any other place that does so, usually it’s first come first serve.
We ordered small plates for the entire table to share. The calamari was a welcome change from the ubiquitous fried presentation, instead sauteed with white wine, capers, butter, herbs and a touch of spice. The pizzas are cracker thin, with ample cheese but not much flavor despite the number and mix of toppings. Short ribs come with mashed potatoes and caramelized onions, and are cooked til falling off the bone. The crab cakes were fried without much filler and served with a spicy aioli and greens.
Each of the dishes was fine. But nothing was particularly noteworthy in terms of taste or presentation. Maybe the entrees are more enticing, I’ll try them next time. The wine list needs some work, it’s clearly an afterthought. Martinis and other cocktails are the focus, and on that score the restaurant is clearly succeeding. The bar, inside and on the deck, is the hot spot of the moment, whether you’re in high heels or tennis shoes.
I hope Cafe Trio does well. It’s gone into a space that hasn’t done a bang up business since Venue held court there for so many years. And with the economy in the tank, it is good to see such activity. If the kitchen were to operate on the same level as the bar (which does seem to have its act together), it would be a winning combination.
4558 Main St.