Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tria in Philadelphia, PA

Here, there, and everywhere Tria seems to be getting good press and reviews. Finally, I needed to check it out. They've been in business now for a couple of years and originally, if I'm not mistaken, started with a strong wine and cheese reputation. Located just off of Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia (one of the wealthiest addresses in Philly), they also quickly attained quite a trendy following. Interestingly enough, the space that they occupy was formerly an ice cream stand. Somewhere along the way, they also became quite a beer destination. On an unassuming street corner, when you walk in through the front doors the first thing that you immediately notice is the "clean" atmosphere. In other words, a no-smoking policy. What a pleasure! I'm not sure there's anything quite as annoying as trying to actually taste your beer or wine (or food, for that matter) with billows of smoke wafting directly across your face. (I think this may actually be a subset of Murphy's Law!) Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a fine cigar now and then, but there's an appropriate time and place for smoking. Happily, they understand this at Tria. On this night that we stopped in, the draft list included: Heavyweight Lunacy; Allagash White; Yards Pale Ale; Victory Braumeister Pils; Sly Fox Helles; Ommegang Three Philosophers; Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA; Rogue Chocolate Stout. Quite a respectable list, I must say. In addition, they also feature a bottle list of somewhere around 20-30 brews from around the world.....Germany, Canada, England, Belgium, and the U.S. are all adequately represented. As you can see, they've paid attention to both the local and international beer scenes. The menu featured tasty treats along with a well-rounded list of cheeses, also from around the world. As you'll see from the cheese list at their website, their offerings are categorized from 'clean' to 'luscious' to 'stinky' to 'approachable' to 'stoic' to 'racy'. The service. Hm, what to say about the service? I think I can best sum it up by saying that the service was polite without being friendly, courteous without being extremely helpful, and crisp enough but not overly attentive. For example, when I inquired about the belgian tripel that I had never had before, the answer from the waitress was "oh, that's a really good one." Then, when I asked if she had any suggestions for a cheese pairing, the answer was once again a noncommittal "that's just the kind of beer that'll go really well with anything." I think the website kind of gives a hint at the overall customer service. For example, click on the 'General Information' link. It's no-nonsense. They definitely seem to be pushing the trendy factor. How do I feel about all of this? I definitely recommend a visit, especially if you're in this area of town. Would I go out of my way to visit Tria? Not at this point. Philadelphia has so many other locations that are much more well-rounded in their beer business. However, I think it will take at least another visit (perhaps a mid-afternoon visit) to understand if this place is just another bar/restaurant trying to capitalize on trendy beers, wines, and cheeses. Or, if they are a place run by and staffed by people who really care about the product they are selling. In my mind, the best places are the less pretentious establishments owned and operated by people who have a passion for the product. My visit this time concluded that they have some great products being served in a place that's trying to cater to the high-end clientele. P.S. For what it's worth, on this particular Saturday evening, I would estimate that approximately 2/3-3/4 of the customers were drinking wine.

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