By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
I was so thoroughly enchanted with almost every dish, I felt like I'd been dosed with magic dust. A pair of fish tacos ($12), lightly battered mahi mahi topped with a slaw of Napa cabbage and grape tomatoes, avocado crema, and lime juice, was wrapped up in a pliant, gently warmed flour tortilla. The bright citrusy flavors and the mild fruitiness of the crema in this delicious sandwich were a happy coupling with the Hog Heaven's bittersweet, grapefruity notes. A small-plate portion of Indian spiced baby lamb chops ($15) was a playful and refined take on subcontinental fare — the tender little chops rubbed with warm spices and cooked medium rare, served on raisin- and almond-studded rice with a refreshing cucumber raita. I wouldn't order the chopped salad ($9) with pine nuts and red wine vinaigrette again — nothing technically wrong with it, but it was so outclassed by niftier dishes that I'd apply the cash instead to seared foie gras with pistachio-apricot bread pudding ($17) or spicy chicken pad Thai with shiitake mushrooms, peanuts, snow peas, and rice noodles ($13), two of the "chef's favorites" we didn't get to try.
A crispy rock shrimp small plate ($11) was another dream pairing with a bottle of Delirium Tremens, yummy fried morsels designed to soak up the alcohol, set over a hot-sweet pool of chili glaze and topped with daikon radish slaw. We worked our way through a board of cured meats: sopressata, bresaola, and prosciutto, with a sugary, pungent fig mostarda and super-salty oversized caper berries, plus a little loaf of yeasty French bread (the cured meats, a cheese plate, peel-and-eat shrimp, and fish dip are served until the bar closes at 2 a.m.).
Specials chalked on the board change nightly. Seared black cod fillet with puréed cauliflower and a mushroom ragout ($21), and an extra-moist, perfectly seasoned pork tenderloin served on pickled beet salad with Asian pear slaw ($23) were both faultlessly executed, classic bistro dishes to fascinate the mind as well as the mouth.
Just one warning: Tryst gets crowded on weekends. Really crowded. Schools of college kids swarm the place, along with chic 30-something singles standing around the bar. It can be hard to find a table after 7 p.m. and even harder to delight in what you're eating and drinking with somebody's (nicely shaped, but still...) butt in your face. Go for happy hour (starting at 4:30) or an early midweek dinner and give your new hobby the space it'll need to flourish.