It’s been a long time coming: a restaurant that sits on the shores but whose inner architectural beauty almost outweighs the calming breezes that drift along the adjacent water. Juxtaposed with Ashbridges Bay, Trinity Taverna recalls the holistic vibe of the Mediterranean – an accomplishment it posits before you even walk through the royal blue doors…
Inside, Trinity Taverna is a work of art. It’s bright and airy, yet playful thanks to the swathes of colour that adorn a factory’s worth of throw cushions lining the rows of seating. It’s grandiose in size, while still managing to have an air of subdued elegance. In short, it’s worth the trip down the barren stretch of Lake Shore East for the decor and architecture alone. But you’d be remiss to simply plant yourself in the restaurant’s center to gaze adoringly about the multitude of adjoined spaces. (Including an upstairs lounge with accompanying rooftop patio that, to us at least, is likely the most resplendent private room in all of the city.)
But, a restaurant of this magnitude need not rely on stunning aesthetics to impress the masses. Let Chef Pierre Restivo and his kitchen team do the heavy lifting.
We sat along the main dining room with seats looking into the open kitchen. This vantage point accomplishes two goals: First, we get to see all the action and engage with the harbingers of Grecian delights; Second, we see that, though we’re invited guests dining on the restaurant’s dime, we’re not actually getting any preferred service – each plate that leaves the pass is as carefully comprised as the last, no matter the table it will land on.
A honey-infused Greek beer, Volken, pairs beautifully with a meaty Kusshi oyster adorned with cucumber strands.
We follow this one-bite of bliss with several more in the form of insanely fresh sea bass carpaccio with a crispy marinated herb salad – a slightly peppered bite of subtle sea flavours.
A selection of spreads then makes its way to our table: an evolved take on Tzatziki; Tarama that tastes like a smoked salmon mousse; Melitzanosalata (likely our favourite of the six) with just a hint of truffle oil to balance out the Medjool dates and eggplant; the intensely garlicky Skorthalia; a salty and spicy Htipiti; and a 3-cheese Tirokafteri given a beautiful bite thanks to Thai chili peppers. Spooned atop pita doused in Greek olive oil and herbs, we went anything but wanting.
We were then introduced to Cretan dumplings – pastry bulbs stuffed with a consortium of delicious flavours. The spinach, feta and pine nuts in the first recall the best of Spanikopitas.
In the second, tenderly braised lamb outshines the truffle oil (a feat for many restaurants nowadays) that’s so lightly drizzled on the plate beneath.
And the honey drifting around the 3-cheese (feta, kefalogravyera, kefalotiri) dumpling ensures a subtle sweetness upon licking your lips.
A stunning presentation of USDA Prime Colorado lamb chops then appears. Perfectly rare, perfectly plated. One of Trinity Taverna’s marquee dishes (many of the bolder mains are meant to share, with meats and fish able to be ordered by the pound) the chops were oh-so succulent, especially once drizzled with a lamb and Greek Viognier reduction. And the accompanying potatoes are a revelation in the principles of food simplicity.
At this juncture in the evening, we could barely fathom breathing easy as digestion set in, let alone having another bite – no matter how perfect – from the impressive kitchen. But a feta cheesecake topped with the most beautiful caramelized figs you ever did see and deglazed with an ouzo reduction was delicately set before us. A sight for the eyes alone, the fluffy, vanilla-scented cake was almost too good to bear. But bear it we did, as we sipped gingerly on an equally sweet Vin Santo while basking in the Grecian glory we just beheld…