Abstract Wine Art and Summer Meadows: Tria Cafe (Philadelphia)

November 2012

You know you have wonderful friends when they say “I know where we can go. It’s a real Quelcy place!” You know you have wonderful friends when they turn your name into an adjective and use it with acute precision. Let me tell you, I have some wonderful friends in Philadelphia because they dubbed Tria Cafe a “Quelcy place,” and they were indeed correct!

Tria Cafe

From the restaurant website…

Tria Rittenhouse opened in 2004 with the somewhat novel goal of bringing wine, cheese and beer together and celebrating them as equals. Tria has received six Best of Philly® awards from Philadelphia magazine, has been called one of the nation’s best places to enjoy beer by Imbibe and Draft magazines, and has been honored with three James Beard Foundation Nominations for Best Wine Service. At heart, Tria Cafe is the friendly corner bar in which you can relax with friends over some of the world’s most wonderful wines, cheeses and beers.

Tria Wines

MALBEC, BODEGA CATENA, ‘10 (Mendoza, Argentina)  
Pioneers of the Malbec revolution: violet, dark plums, vanilla and cocoa. Powerful yet so smooth.

Tria claims, “Don’t know the difference between Cabernet and Carmignano? Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is here to help. We’re all about passion, not pretension,” and their self-assessment is spot on. I was just about to take the recommended cabernet when our wine guide mentioned a Malbec. I quickly and quite pleasantly changed directions. The Malbec delivered the prescribed power and smoothness.

Tria Main Floor

The ambiance at Tria is steeped in simplicity. There are enough accents of brick and wood to give the space a quiet character, but the flickering candlelight and minimalism guides the rest of the experience.

Interior and View

Tria Menu

Truffled Egg Toast

Truffled Egg Toast with Fontina Fontal 

The first small plate to arrive at our table, this truffled egg toast caused us all to pause and savor every bite! It was the combination of the creamy egg, the sharp cheese, the light toast, the truffle flavor and the little accents of green. I nearly suggested ordering a second helping, but I was quickly distracted by the other flavors as they arrived.

Wine by Candlelight

Pistachio Ricotta Lavender Honey

Pistachio Herbed Ricotta with Lavender Honey (Bruschetta)

My friend Brian described this perfectly when he declared, “This tastes like cheese on a summer field.” We also ate the bruschetta with Truffled Mushroom and Fontina, which earned high approval ratings from the table as well but nothing as poetic as “cheese on a summer field.”

Tria Ambiance

Panna Cotta and Pine Nut Torta

Autumn-Spiced Panna Cotta with Caramelized Apples (left)
Rosemary-Pine Nut Torta with Roasted Grapes (right)

Being able to say “one of each of the desserts, please!” without being a glutton or feeling ill is a very lavish way to conclude an evening. Sharing with friends is one of my favorite ways to experience a meal, and this shared meal concluded ever so sweetly with notes of fall and roasted sweetness.

Decadent Chocolate Dessert

Valhrona Chocolate Espresso Cake with Caramel and Candied Walnuts

If a Snickers bar had the opportunity to better itself, it would strive to be Tria’s decadent, rich, chocolate purity. Eating it was like escaping to a Willy Wonka world, post the selfish, greedy, rich kids’ demise. It was harmony!

Wine Art

Now we have come to the point in the post in which I offer a piece of advice: if you foresee a wine bar in your near future, plan your outfit to include burgundy colored pants. Then spill all you want with the calm assurance no one will notice, your pants will recover quite inconspicuously, and you might even inspire a Rorschach-test type of moment for your understanding friends.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. BeezusKiddo

    I love Tria! I was there the time-before-last that I was in Philly. We went to one with outdoor seating right near Rittenhouse (I know there’s a couple of them), and it was during Philly restaurant week, so it was a lovely time, especially with all the people watching.

    1. withthegrains

      Oooh! I can only imagine how the people watching element would enhance that experience. Wine + cheese + people watching is the foundation of why I think I was meant to be French.

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