Trinity is the third restaurant to occupy the space in the Park Victoria apartment complex on South Park, the first being the legendary le Bistro, the second the short-lived Spice Urban Grill. It’s a great location on the front corner of the building, allowing room for a summer patio and a great view of the street.
The first thing I notice at Trinity is it hasn’t changed much inside—and therein lies the rub. Trinity could easily be Spice or le Bistro, it’s that generic. Not that it isn’t a lovely restaurant—it is. The tall booths afford privacy, the lights in the trees are reminiscent of dining under the stars, the dark wood bar exudes luxury.
The menu confirms my initial impression. Maple squash soup? Let it go—it’s been on the menu since the Bistro days. I could swear I’m looking at the Spice and le Bistro menus, with a few minor exceptions. And in my experience, too many appetizers and too many mains usually indicate mediocrity in a kitchen; focusing on quantity rarely results in quality.
The service is fine, in fact, so solicitous, I think I’ve been “made” as a reviewer. But listening in as other tables around us receive the same high level of service from different members of the waitstaff convinces me otherwise.
We start with smoked salmon cakes ($8.95), crab cakes ($7.95) and a bowl of the long-running maple squash soup ($4.95). The smoked salmon cakes are very rustic, with large chunks of onion, potato and the distinct flavour of smoked salmon. Served with a green chow, they’re excellent. The soup — “still the classic favourite” — also tastes great, with a hint of maple, and is not too thick.
The crab cakes may as well be called “mushy unidentifiable flavour cakes” because the only thing crabby is how I feel after eating them. If you can’t find the right crab or make a decent cake, keep it off the menu. But the dressing and fresh greens on the side are delicious. These crab cakes seem to be offered because hey, you’re in Halifax and crab cakes should be on the menu. Trinity isn’t the first restaurant to fall prey to “better bad crab cakes than none.”
Main courses bring rigatoni Bolognese ($12.95) and linguine Vongole ($13.95). Both of these pastas, while holdovers from the previous tenants, are done well. The Bolognese (meat) sauce is robust and full of tomato flavour, and the Vongolese (clam) sauce is light and just as tasty. Grilled focaccia bread comes with the pastas, and the portions are very filling.
Sadly, despite the great service and good food, Trinity is a restaurant without an identity. It leans towards Mediterranean, but Cajun chicken pizza and Asian stir-fry take the focus off that. There is a lot of pasta and plenty of Italian music in the background, but there are many French bistro style dishes still here, tossed in with home cooking like liver and onions. If I owned this restaurant, the first thing I’d do is stop trying to be everything to everyone—it’s not a hotel restaurant, it doesn’t need to offer the standard chicken-beef-fish-pasta quartet. Cut the menu in half and find a focus.
Trinity is a nice neighbourhood restaurant, but so devoid of personality that I wouldn’t bother coming back. In fact, in a couple of weeks I don’t think I’ll remember anything about my meal there, and that’s a shame, because with good food and good service already in place, all it would take is a spark of uniqueness to make it stand out.
Trinity1333 South Park 423-8428Sat-Sun 9am-9pmMon-Thu 11am-9pmFri 11am-10pm