They say you can’t get something for nothing; but I say if you can get something for ½ the price, life is a whole lot better—especially when it means happy hour at Trio. This restaurant may be a “hotel restaurant,” but all the stereotypes end there. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the better restaurants in town with a trifecta kitchen team of Pastry Chef Naomi Gallego, Chef de Cuisine Todd Duplechan, and Executive Chef Elmar Prambs at the helm.
And though a full scale dinner here may not be in line with every budget, except perhaps for a special occasion, Trio’s Happy Hour menu proves that a little elegance at a half-price discount goes a long way. At least, that’s what Four Seasons Austin PR Director Kerri Holden was kind enough to share with me on a recent visit.
I should start by saying that the Happy Hour menu isn’t your average “chips and salsa, spinach dip, and fried calamari lineup. It’s a little more advanced than that.
Take for instance the new additions of grass-fed beef carpaccio with truffled arugula and a farm fresh egg served sunny-side-up, or the sweet and citrusy grouper ceviche accented with a side of gin-soaked sliced cucumbers. Both were excellent. Kerri was insistent that we try her favorite—the lamb sliders with cabbage and tzatziki and a side of “the best steak fries in the world.” (According the Kerri.) I have to say, I’m glad she was so intent. The sliders were tasty indeed and the fries were, well, see aforementioned quote…
Based on this sampling, I was very impressed with what was turning out to be: $15+$14+$7+$15 = $51. Split this in HALF for the Happy Hour price and we were only down about $25!
Things got even better when restaurant Genera Manager Paul Duce stopped by the table. Paul, whose many proud achievements in life include a 44 and 3 record for planning wedding proposals at the hotel, was a brimming with extra suggestions for us to taste. (Side note on the 44 and 3 record: The majority of “yes” outcomes happen outside on the terrace in a certain spot on the east lawn. The few “no” outcomes have NOT taken place at this highly suggested spot. Coincidence? Tough to say. If you ask Paul, the “no’s” are a sore spot for him, but if you ask him to share a few of the positive stories, he’ll happily oblige.)
After sharing a few bits of juicy engagement tidbits with us, he hinted at a few other items from the main dinner menu worth trying, namely the wild mushroom-stuffed ravioli with sage-brown-butter sauce and spiced butternut squash that made me feel as if I were at my grandmother’s for Thanksgiving.
He also insisted we try a crispy order of “sunchoke tots.” These little fritters arrive as balls of shredded potato and sunchoke (root of sunflowers) salted and fried like tater tots and served in a warm cast iron dish over gooey blue cheese. Though these menu items are not on the Happy Hour menu, it’s worth asking for an order. YUM!
No Happy Hour is complete without a tasty libation. And perhaps I should have mentioned this first as the wines by the glass menu is quite simply phenomenal. What else would you expect from the fine-tuned palate of Trio’s convivial sommelier, Mark Sayre, who has meticulously handpicked a list of wines that are not only exquisite, but nicely varied for a variety of personal tastes. Kerri’s an albariño fan, and Sayre was eager to give her a taste of a bottle of the Spanish white varietal he had just added to the menu: Burgans from Rias Baizis, Spain. And while helping decide on a full yet juicy Cabernet from Amavi Cellars in Washington, he shared that he’ll be heading back to Washington this year to work on his second round of winemaking with Justin Wylie at Va Piano Vineyards in Walla Walla.
At $10 and $16 a glass, these luscious wines totaled $13 with Happy Hour pricing. I know everyone has a favorite Happy Hour haunt, but I have to say with the quality of food and the unbelievable wine selections at Trio, you practically are getting something—for nothing.
Happy Hour Monday-Saturday, 5-8 p.m.
1/2 off appetizers and 1/2 off wines by the glass in the Trio Wine Bar area.