One of the enduring paradoxes of the North Texas dining scene is that one of the the richest suburbs, Southlake, and neighboring Colleyville, is a black hole so far as good dining choices are concerned. It is as though the area were zoned “chain restaurant”. There are exceptions, and I was fortunate to recently be a guest at a media event at one of them. This restaurant turned out to not only be a standout in the area, but good enough to be worth a journey from Dallas or Fort Worth.
Trio is a New American bistro nestled in a strip shopping centre in the heart of Colleyville. Chef Jason Harper and his wife, Miriam, have owned it since 2009, and initially ran it as a lunch spot. They transitioned to a full-blown restaurant in 2012. Jason had worked under acclaimed chef Bruce Auden at Biga On The Banks in San Antonio, been sous chef at Abacus in Dallas for three years (under Tre Wilcox), and chef for Central Market for a year, but had no culinary school training. It is a testimony to ‘The School of Hard Knocks’ that his cooking is so accomplished. When I asked Wilcox for a comment on him he said “Flash! “ (letting his nickname out of the bag) and continued, “He was a very good cook when he started working with me. He had tremendous drive and always aimed to please. I'm proud to have had him in my kitchen”.
Take the unpretentiously titled field green salad ($9). Maybe it is the Abacus training, but one’s first impression is how telegenic it is on the plate. The honey chipotle dressed greens are laid down first and the other ingredients added in layers. Bleu cheese, avocado and, most significantly, spiced pecans. The finely chopped pecans add textural variation and an earthy complement to the sweet vinaigrette. It gives the salad a whole additional dimension.
Summer crudo (MP) is another well composed light starter. It varies with the market but ours was ahi tuna, coriander, mint, Nước chấm,
and watermelon granita along with marcona almonds. Don’t you like a chef who does more than he needs to in order to finish a dish?
Likewise, soup of the day, cream of leek ($6/$10), had the right richness in its consistency, and would have been delightful naked and unadorned as the day it was made. But Harper adds a teaspoonful of lightly cooked English peas, mixed with cajun housemade tasso ham, chopped brunoise, and a tuft of deep-fried leek strands as a garnish plopped in the center of the bowl. It is flavor and texture lagniappe for a soup that was already perfectly adequate.
The menu is wisely compact, but Harper does offer a special most nights. On our visit rack of lamb
was crusted with purple haze goat cheese from Cyprus Grove and pivoted (there’s that Abacus training coming in again) on mixed green veggies (white asparagus, brussel sprouts, yellow wax beans, and oyster mushrooms) drizzled with a weaponized-strength demi-glace. It was so luscious that I did have to pick up the ribs with my hands to chew off every last morsel of lamb.
Dessert was a chocolate chip passionfruit layer cake with coffee buttercream and a passionfruit mousse that was refreshingly light, leaving us full, but not stuffed.
Before you head to Trio, hit the wine cellar
as BYOB is available ($11 corkage). Trio can sell you a good wine if you forget. Some of the food also pairs well with craft beer, which Trio also offers.
Judging by the crowd that came in while we ate, Trio has devotees, and the food is of a calibre to deserve an even wider following. Visitors to the Dallas Fort-Worth area will welcome that Trio is just 20 minutes Uber or Lyft from DFW airport.For more Dallas dining and travel news, click here.