As we walked into the newest trio cafe location in Cottonwood, one of the friends who was with us exclaimed, "But this is Rivers! What happened to Rivers?"
Well, Rivers is gone, despite having quite a few fans around the valley. But a worthy successor has filled its former space, transforming once-rustic ambience to cool modern with a welcoming vibe.
Fans of trio at its original location, just off 700 South and 900 East, might prefer that smaller, more cafe-like space, with its windows opening onto a leafy street and outdoor dining area. On the other hand, anyone who gives the newest trio a chance should enjoy it.
Many of the furnishings and lighting from the original are present here in a big modern space artfully broken up into more intimate rooms, and warmed with sunny-yellow and warm-turquoise walls, with tons of botanical accents. There's outdoor dining here, too, in a courtyard that at night enjoys breezes off the nearby foothills.
Service at this trio is snappy, knowledgeable and thorough. But all of that is secondary to the excellent, creative and sometimes surprising food.
Our group of four started with the rosemary flatbread and trio of crostini. The flatbread is THE thing to start with at trio, consisting of warm, fresh wedges of flatbread, redolent of rosemary and the caramelized veggies scattered over them. They rest on a plate of various toppings, including creamy white goat cheese, roasted peppers and tomatoes. There's a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar over everything, which provides a piquant finishing touch.
Though the flatbread was my favorite, we also enjoyed the crostini, crisp and cheesy slices of bread on which we could heap salad-like tomato-mozzarella blend, earthy fine-ground mushroom and caramelized onion or, my favorite, rich-and-savory artichoke-feta spread.
For dinner, our friend Jen had the spinachi, one of trio's deceptively simple pastas. Deceptive, because the excellence and preparation belie the relatively few ingredients. The spinachi is both light and rich, with its ricotta-cheese sauce sheltering freshly cooked spinach, all of it poured over penne pasta.
My husband also had pasta, the wonderful carbonara, which featured lots of chunky smoked bacon, peas and asiago cheese on a bed of spaghettini. Strangely, considering the richness of the ingredients, it's not too filling, but is at the same time satisfying.
Our friend Bryan had the "cedar-plank wild salmon," a superlative piece of fish that was unbelievably tender and flaky inside but cooked to firmness. It was accompanied by big, pearly veggie couscous and drizzled with creamy citrus vinaigrette.
I couldn't resist trying the pork chop, mainly because I wanted to try the roasted summer fruit-and-fennel salad and the almond farro that came with it. The pork chop was thick and savory, simply but perfectly prepared. The salad was a delicious accompaniment, with the bright flavors of the grapes and oranges sweetened by roasting and deepened by the crisp-tender, aromatic fennel. And the farro (you might know it as spelt) was a delicious, nutty alternative to rice or couscous.
Dessert at trio is always a good time. All of us but Bryan, who is tragically allergic to chocolate, wolfed down the trio chocolate cake, a dense, bittersweet cake topped with creamy mousse, orange caramel and chocolate curls. We all shared the lemon-polenta pound cake, a long rectangle of cake with a moist, substantial texture, topped with tart-lemon pudding and lots of raspberries, blackberries and whipped cream on the side.
But my favorite was the panna cotta trio. It was served in a goblet with a ribbon of strawberry down the middle, dividing the vanilla and pistachio flavors of milky, just-firm custard. A sweet finish to a flawless meal.Lunch: panini and panoli $6.75-$9.95, soups and salads $$4.95$9.95, pasta $7.95-$10.95, flatbread and pizza $1.95-$10. Dinner: appetizers $1.95-$10.95, soups and salads $4.95-$9.95, pasta $8.95-$11.95, pizza $10, specialties $16-$19, kids' menu $2.50-$6, desserts $5.
Rating: *** 1/2
Where: 6405 S. 3000 East, Cottonwood Heights; also 680 S. 900 East
Hours: Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dinner: Monday-Thursday 4-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 4-10:30 p.m.
Sunday 4-9 p.m.
Brunch: Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Payment: Checks, credit cards accepted
Phone: 944-8746 (Cottonwood); 533-8746Web: www.triodining.com
Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org