By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor
Between the Mosaic District and Halstead Square, the Merrifield area is really becoming a dining gem for those outside the beltway. However, these two areas aren’t the only place where you can dine well in that area – Trio Grill, open for one year and located off Route 29 – recently launched their new fall menu featuring seasonal items and having never dined there, I was excited to try it out. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the restaurant were the warm orange, mahogany and honey tones, large, comfortable leather chairs, four(!) wine cellars, expansive bar and the exposed brick walls, giving the restaurant a warm, cozy feeling.
I perused the drink list, and was happy to see a good number of wines by the glass as well as a number of cocktail selections. With the three cellars, it’s clear that they take their wine program seriously, and I learned that they have over 1,000 bottles in-house – impressive. I began with a glass of bubbly (Torresella Prosecco) and a glass of the Romanico Tempranillo – the wine pours are generous and by-the-glass prices are reasonable. I was impressed by two service touches – they offered a taste of their wines by the glass (similar to when you sample the wine when you order a bottle, but not all places offer to let you sample the by-the-glass selections) and noticing that I was wearing black pants, the server offered to swap out my white napkin for a black one. These touches, while small, are thoughtful, which I appreciated. Soon after, a server arrived and asked if I wanted bread (of course!). Trio’s bread arrived warm and was served with a delicious Fat Tire beer and mustard butter.
The meal was off to a good start and I was looking forward to trying some of the new, seasonal fall dishes. To start, I ordered the Seasonal Fig and Rocket Arugula salad, with mascarpone and goat cheese spread, roasted butternut squash, black cherries, candied walnuts, and Saba dressing, and the Arancini, hand-rolled risotto filled with spicy sausage, aged provolone and fontina, and basil aioli. The salad tasted like fall in a bowl – the ingredients were extremely fresh, the cheese creamy and complemented the tangy cherries. The dressing was on the sweeter side but not too sweet, given the components of the dish. The Arancini was crunchy and not greasy, the risotto creamy, and was accompanied by a nice pesto and tomato sauce.
I ordered more wine to accompany my meal as I moved onto entrees – Landmark Overlook Chardonnay and Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon (one of my favorites – very pleased to see it on the menu and by the glass). Trio’s menu, as they recently just expanded it, features extensive entrée selections and I had a tough time deciding, but I settled on one of their newer dishes, the Jumbo Shrimp and Grits with herb marinated grilled shrimp, white stone-ground grits, crispy bacon, and white wine tomato cream sauce and Chianti Braised Short Rib with creamy polenta, foraged mushrooms, and rustic ciabatta. The shrimp and grits were delicious – I love this dish but few places do it right – the grits were creamy and not too cheesy and the shrimp nicely cooked. The short rib was tender but not too fatty, the polenta nice and creamy and featured a nice seasoning. Both dishes needed salt, although this was easily fixed because each table features its own salt and pepper grinders.
No meal is complete without dessert, and in keeping with the seasonal theme, ordered the Apple Upside Down Cake with brown sugar and oatmeal streusel, vanilla ice cream, apple brandy, and caramel. This is one of their seasonal desserts and I was told that this dessert had been a peach version just a few months ago in the summer. The cake was moist and had a nice balance of spicy and sweet.
The restaurant also features an outdoor Cigar Lounge and patio accompanied by a fireplace (continuing the “cozy” theme) for those who wish to dine or hang out outside – there was quite a crowd when I left! Trio may not be located in either Mosaic or Halstead, but the food makes this restaurant stand out on its own, and accompanied by a warm, cozy atmosphere, gives Northern VA diners another opportunity to have a great meal closer to home.
8100 Lee Highway
Falls Church, VA 22042