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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Early Look at Trifecta

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Trifecta, the—I get it—third location in Ken Forkish's carb empire, after his NW 21st bakery and the ever-popular Ken's Artisan Pizza, just opened on Friday. I'll let Food Editor Chris Onstad take care of the formal review after the restaurant has found its rhythm, but I popped in on Monday for one of the new joint's first dinner services, and here's the general idea:

Located in a former car upholstery shop, the space is huge, probably 5,000 sf, containing a small bakery with pastries and drip available early (but the bread doesn't come out till later that afternoon). The huge main space has a lounge/waiting area with a big, Pacific NW-approved stack of firewood against one wall, though it should be noted that it's not mere affectation: the chefs are actually cooking using that burning wood under a huge hood in the open kitchen that sucks up all the smoke. Said kitchen runs parallel to a long bar in sleek whites and chromes, but the dining area is dressed up in a lovely, ultra-dramatic crimson. My friend Trevor proclaimed it "a restaurant for grown-ups" and certainly what began as a casual Monday-night pre-func before the Nine Inch Nails show (?!) became something much more formal (and expensive).

It's fine dining and small plates, and you know how that can add up, especially when you throw in a craft cocktail and a glass of dry white wine (so grown up). But even in its early stages everything we ordered, which turned out to be a li'l too much, was remarkably tasty: the radish butter on rye toast (you can fit more carbs into the classic radish 'n' butter combo when you turn it into one spreadable substance); the ubiquitous house pickle plate, given more care here than some other highfalutin' joints I could name; roasted broccoli raab with chili cheese sauce (a fancied-up version of cheez whiz made with aged cheddar); fries with parsley, garlic, and chilis (good, but looked more interesting on paper... next time I'd try the malt vinegar versions, which I'm told involve science (!) in the form of powdered malt vinegar); pan-fried oysters (they are big on oysters here, which appear on the menu no less than five times); deviled eggs (toppings rotate, but expect things like beets, smoked salmon, and bacon); shrimp 'n' grits; and pork shank (I didn't try it, but my husband loved it, and it's one of the larger portions to try to tackle alone—half of it became the next day's sandwich, along with the large portion of fries we didn't get through, a situation that prompted zero complaints.

But enough with the chit-chat and on with the food photos.

Shrimp n grits!

Pork shank!

Deviled eggs!

Pan-fried oysters!

The view from the lounge into the space, which goes and goes.
  • The view from the lounge into the space, which goes and goes.

Part of the crimson dining area.
  • Part of the crimson dining area.

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