She has us at “Hello.”
Warm, welcoming and gracious, with the bearing of a queen, Jacinda is one of those rare servers to whom I feel comfortable just surrendering myself for the course of the meal.
“Yes, something with gin and St. Germain.”
What arrived was a crisp, vaguely floral concoction with freshly juiced cucumber and notes of fresh thyme. Perfect. From there we handed over the menus and asked Jacinda to just figure it out for us.
This was a wise decision.
Warm, yeasted demi-baguettes lasted only moments on the table. Jacinda was too kind to roll her eyes as she replaced them for us. Again and again. This was top-notch bread.
Oysters are a thing on chef Michael Isolani’s contemporary Creole menu, so do indulge. The baked “Holy Trinity” held the surprise of arriving in a suspension of long-cooked creamy white beans under a crust of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a bright spark of lemon zest. We spooned the oysters atop crisp ciabatta toasts. Then a trio of deviled egg halves arrived, each creamy with horseradish and bearing topper of a single smoked oyster and a dollop of choupique caviar.
Isolani hails from Bouligny Tavern, bringing with him to Trinity his skill for balancing a menu with both lush and light selections. He cooks his airy hushpuppies in duck fat and serves them with green tomato jam. He also pairs thin zucchini ribbons with large, butterflied, poached shrimp and a light dressing of Parmigiano-Reggiano, dill and lemon.
The recent $1 million renovation of the space did little to change the layout. The open kitchen and long dining bar that distinguished Maximo’s, its predecessor, remain, as do the high-back booths that line the wall overlooking the kitchen. Fresh lighting and contemporary fixtures in a black, white and silver palate seem a tasteful revisit to the 1980s.
Our entrées continued the notes of satisfaction. Firm sea scallops were seared and paired with smoked corn purée and crisp ribbons of roasted mirliton. A braised pork shank was cooked sous vide for 26 hours and served with an apple compote, toasted garlic and green French Lentils. It was a bit munch for summer, but I know we’ll be craving it when the first chill hits the air.
The dessert list from pastry chef Sydney Rainwater contains elements from the bar. Dense bread pudding is made with plantains and a rum-brown butter caramel; and rhubarb cheesecake is kissed with a with a strawberry-gin purée.
On July 9, from 6-9 p.m., chef Melissa Araujo of Alma will serve a five course dinner of her native Honduran cuisine at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. The evening will begin with cocktails from 6-7 p.m., and each course will be paired with wine. Born in La Ceiba, Atlatidad, a small beach town on the Atlantic coast of Honduras, Araujo pays tribute to her grandmother’s cooking through her life’s work.
“I had no choice but to fall in love with food. I grew up with a family, and food was the center of everything. My mother Angeolina Araujo is Sicilian-Italian, and my father, Oscar Araujo, is Honduras-Maya with Portuguese. I was a locavore by birthright, and my early immersion in fresh, local, seasonal ingredients has informed and influenced my culinary philosophy. I love to re-create the story people share with me with the food I cook.”
The meal will include a Tomato Celebration of four varietals of tomatoes, egg yolk, Manchego, fresh herbs and olive oil; a Ceviche Atlántico with sea bass, red onions, chile habanero, teardrop tomatoes and lime; a Traditional Honduras Arroz con pollo; Camarones al Ajo-roasted Gulf shrimp with tomatoes, shallots, garlic and sherry vinaigrette; and Arroz con Leche.
The cost is $75 per person. Twenty percent of all proceeds are being put aside to establish a fund for the education and care of impoverished children in Honduras. Tickets may be purchased at AlmaNola.squarespace.com.
Trinity 1117 Decatur St. 325-5789 TrinityRestaurantNewOrleans.com
Alma Honduran Pop-up at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum 1504 Oretha C Haley Blvd . AlmaNola.squarespace.com