Review of Trinity

January 12, 2007 § 2 Comments

1333 South Park Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
423 8428

While it may be Bill Spurr’s idea of heaven, it’s not good enough for us. In his column describing his Nova Scotia dining highlights for 2006, Spurr— The Chronicle-Herald‘s Bourgeois Gourmet columnist— proclaimed Trinity Halifax’s best restaurant. Trust us, dear reader, it’s no such thing.

Trinity sits on Park Victoria’s ground floor— a space formerly occupied by Le Bistro and Spice. The dining room is attractive. It’s painted in dark colors and small lamps glint from the tables, and a tree strewn with fairy lights twinkles nearby. The room could easily have been dim, but instead it feels cosy. The high-backed booth we choose contributes to that feeling.

Our server is affable, and he has his patter down very well. He’s been lauded in both The Chronicle-Herald and The Coast, and he’s certainly good at making customers feel welcome.

We start with drinks, then order the Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Mayonnaise. They arrive quickly, but only mine is notable. The Sweet Potato Fries are very good— crisp and well-seasoned, and they go down nicely with the mayonnaise, though to call it “curry” is something of a stretch.

The Vietnamese Spring Rolls are solid but not exceptional. They cut tidily into two bites—a welcome quality— and are stuffed with a respectable mixture of snap peas, glass noodles, and carrot, but they lack flavor. And we suspect that the spicy dipping sauce came from a President’s Choice bottle. We expect better.

Before we’re halfway through our appetizers, our server asks if we’re ready for our entrees yet. We’re weren’t, but saying so was a mistake. When our main courses do arrive 15 minutes later, they’ve obviously been under the heat lamp for that long. This doesn’t affect my partner’s Thai Noodle Bowl, but my Crusted Red Snapper— a daily special— is terrible.

The fish is cool, despite its considerable tenure under the lamp. The breading is heavy, soggy, oily; it overwhelms the fish’s delicate nature. The fish itself is overcooked and dry, and the housemade tomato salsa it’s been paired with is wrong for the dish, both discordant and sour. The vegetables— steamed turnip, parsnip and asparagus are well-executed, though, and the Duchess Potato is innocuous.

My partner’s dish is better. The Thai Noodle Bowl hasn’t skimped on the peanuts or the shrimp, and they’re the brawniest jumbo shrimp I’ve seen in ages. The rice noodles are nicely cooked, and the peppers and water chestnuts add nice texture. My only quibble is that the peanut sauce is a bit too sweet, inhibiting any Thai-style contrast of flavors.

More disappointment follows. Although the room still isn’t busy, our service begins to suffer. Our server goes so far as to pause and return our dinner forks when he clears away our entrees. Apparently we don’t deserve new silverware for dessert.

The menu boasts that all sweets are made in-house by executive chef Tony Hiltz, which is a good sign. Frozen desserts are served in restaurants all over Metro— but not in the good ones. My partner orders the French Apple Tart, and I have the Mile-High Coconut Pie. The tart is flaky, with pleasant cinnamon flavor, but that’s the height of its charm. The apples are mushy and it seems like the chef forgot the salt. My coconut pie is certainly mile-high, but it’s goopy and gelatinous, with no discernible coconut flavor. They’re utterly forgettable desserts.

So, for those keeping score at home, we ordered six items, but only two were good. After tax and tip, we paid $98, and that’s just not right. Trinity embodies what’s wrong with the dining scene in Halifax and Nova Scotia: they assume we’ll settle for less. The room is pretty enough, and the service is good, but a restaurant lives and dies on the food coming from the kitchen.

Trinity is in a central location that caters to tourists in summer, and we don’t want them to think this is all that Atlantic Canada’s largest city has to offer. And when an influential critic at the province’s largest newspaper repeatedly sings the praises of a mediocre restaurant, what message does that send?

We deserve better— and we know that Trinity can do better.

—for Infomonkey

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