Restaurant Review

Trinity Lounge

Trinity, named for the street behind it, is best at expanding pub grub in new directions. Its small plates are fun; its cocktails, too.

When they were dating, Erik Hall and Evin Joice used to stroll from her apartment in Newton to a beer-and-shot joint on the town’s main street. They loved the architecture of the 100-year-old building. In 2010, when it became available, they leased it, “restored it to its former glory” at their own expense, Erik says, and reopened it in 2010 as Trinity Lounge.

By then, the couple had opened O’Reilly’s Pub in Newton, which they still own and operate. Married in 2011, they opened Forno Italiano in Sparta last year. But Trinity Lounge is still their friendly, folksy mainstay. Many of the best dishes are found on the lounge and tapas menus. Grown-Up Grilled Cheese melts brie over roast duck breast and apple chutney on cinnamon-raisin toast from Anthony & Sons Bakery in Denville. Plump house-made pierogies with bacon and Dijon cream sauce take richness to the edge of over-the-top without tumbling into excess. It’s one of the best dishes on the menu.

Crisp Bada-Bing Shrimp also play the creaminess card, but add a helpful wink of fiery Sriracha. Crostini beef up with thin-sliced steak on ciabatta with herb cheese, caramelized onions and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Almost all the small plates pair well with the bar’s ever-changing draft beers and Evin’s lively cocktails, like the Huckleberry Hound (huckleberry vodka, sweet-and-sour mix and blueberry purée) or the Cranberry Ginger Smash (with Hendrick’s gin, ginger liqueur and muddled cranberries).

The Halls, who met while working at Cablevision in the early 2000s, dreamed of owning restaurants for years before they got into the business. Erik worked in his family’s Rockland County restaurant as a teen, and Evin had waitressed around her native Montclair. Business has received a boost from the 2011 transformation of an old movie theater across the street into a 600-seat concert venue, the Newton Theatre. Although Trinity’s staff and kitchen, under chef Mark Seader (soon to compete on Chopped), move things along fairly well, if you’re dining on a concert night and are not attending the concert, the place is much calmer after the curtain goes up across the street.

“It can get a little crazy between 6 and 7:45,” says Erik.

A good starter is the apple salad with blue cheese, candied pecans and black-sesame dressing made with Spanish Jerez vinegar. The Caprese salad of fresh greens, beefsteak tomatoes and balsamic reduction includes a lovely twist of pesto, but the mozzarella, though house made, lacked the seductive softness associated with this fresh cheese.

Entrées don’t always show the attention to detail that elevates the small plates. One that did was pan-seared duck, cooked medium, as ordered, with a not-too-sweet vanilla fig sauce. Hanger steak with crisp pommes frites, rose-garlic aioli and gorgonzola butter arrived undercooked on one occasion, overcooked on another.

Penne with bacon, mushrooms and shrimp was tossed in a delightful sherry cream sauce, but had only three shrimp and very little bacon. Two pork chops stuffed with cranberry brie, served on a mountain of mashed potatoes, were tender at the center because the chops were thick, but dry and tough at the surface.
White-chocolate bread pudding was worth the calories. Even better was flaky puff pastry topped with warm sliced apples and cinnamon ice cream.

Trinity, named for the street behind it, is best at expanding pub grub in new directions. Its small plates are fun; its cocktails, too. It makes a dynamic duo with the theater across the street, though it is probably more Robin than Batman.

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Restaurant Details

  • Cuisine Type:
    American - Fusion/Eclectic - Modern
  • Price Range:
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