Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Trio plays to its strengths. It's a cute BYO with neighborhood appeal. The decor and service are cozy and professional and its menu has remained largely unchanged allowing one to develop favorite items for which to later crave. The food is not cutting edge or expensive, nor would I be up to returning to a cutting edge restaurant multiple times. And I've certainly visited Trio multiple times, since it's located in my own backyard (practically). Which is how I arrived there this week, with a neighbor friend in tow, both of us looking for something fulfilling but casual.

Opened almost two years ago by Tom Jamavan, Michael Poole, and Van Chau (hence, "Trio"), the restaurant offers Pan Asian cuisine out of corner brownstone in the heart of the art museum neighborhood. Its consistent menu is supplemented by daily specials, all of which seem fresh and, in fact, "special." Its recent expansion to its successful take-out business is delivery and for this, I will always be grateful.

But the atmosphere still remains a draw to the restaurant, with one of the owners usually present to greet you and remember repeat customers. I am one of them, I admit. I have the appetizer menu down -- am I in the mood for the scrumptious, delicately fried Beggars' Pouches filled with shrimp and crabmeat, swimming in a light dumpling sauce, or should I stick with my standard chicken satay with slightly spicy peanut sauce and a cool and tangy cucumber relish? I have gone crazy with the sweet corn fritters (a Pan Asian take on comfort food) or the innocuous but pleasing steamed seafood dumplings. I've also heard good things about the Lemongrass soup, but have steered clear due to its spiciness.

Last night, I succumbed to my favorite entree, the Tamarind Lacquered Pork Chop. Lightly basted in the tangy "tamarind lacquer" and topped with green onion, the chop fits the bill on a cold night. Often, I order the Pad Thai, which also offers a reliably tasty, fresh preparation. I tasted my friend's Basil Chicken last night, which she cautioned to order "not spicy" so the chef does not over-pepper the chicken, and found its basil flavor fresh but not overpowering.

Trio has recently added a dessert cooler, filled with tempting options that we somehow managed to resist last night. The meal ended on a perfect note -- the owner asking if we would add ourselves to an invitation list for an upcoming event for neighbors. I couldn't be more pleased Trio's lasted these two years.

Trio is located at 2624 Brown Street, Philadelphia, PA. Photo of Beggars' Pouches by Philadelphia Weekly.

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