I took my son to Tryst. Yep, the Arlington place where everyone goes on a date. Thankfully, my 10-year-old is excellent company. We weren’t the only family there on a weeknight, but this bistro was filled with romance, dim lighting, cream-colored walls and earthtone touches, leather booths, black and white prints, exposed ducts.
Owned by Chef Paul Turano, the words he uses for his bistro is “accessible” and “unpretentious.” So while this is obviously a date place, a family could also enjoy a grown-up menu and nice per-glass wine selection, while enjoying a kid’s menu and free parking. The menu also is labeled with vegetarian and gluten-free options for easy choices.
We sat in back, without a view of the many TVs that line the walls; my kid’s attention tends to drift toward anything on a screen. On the other hand, the more coveted seats seemed to be near the bar, at the window-side high-tops. The noise level was high in conversation that was louder than the music. The air was nicely scented by truffle oil, which led us to order a round of the calorie-worthy truffle fries. This place also serves up the bread basket, a selection of Iggy’s Sourdough.
For starters we had the Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad ($11, vegetarian and gluten-free) with toasted hazelnuts, parmesan, and a lemon vinaigrette; and two fried shrimp tacos, on a soft corn tortilla with house guacamole and chipotle cream sauce. Delicious, although for those on a date, warning: they are messy. If you have a fuller table or for a nice bar snack, you may want to try the Tapas, with chorizo stuffed dates, Serrano ham, peppadews, olives & almonds.
The waiter raved about the house special, the strawberry mojito, with with fresh streawberries muddled with the mint for a delicious and refreshing cocktail that went quickly. With my meal, the Dogfish Head Namaste or a Jack's Abbey on draft was tempting, but the waiter recommended a Malbec blend.
Tryst recently introduced a barbecue menu for Mondays and Tuesdays. Highlights: BBQ Oysters at $2 each, with Creole butter; fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade, steak tacos with grilled corn and tomato pico de gallo with chipotle crema, and fried B&B pickles, whatever those are, but hey, I love anything pickled. We mulled over the cornmeal fried chicken and Maine Lobster sandwiches on brioche before my kid decided upon the coffee and bourbon glazed baby back ribs, with two corners of griddled buttery jalapeno corn bread, tart and crisp vinegar slaw and a creamy southern-style potato salad. The ribs perfectly fell off the bones and were delightfully messy.
A house favorite, the pig under a brick is pulled pork marinated overnight and pressed into a brick shape, with duck fat crisping up the top layer. It looked like a bread pudding square, but was full of flavor. It paired well on a bed of buttery mashed potato and parsnip puree, buttered peas & pearl onions, a compote of black plum sauce, and a topping of fried parsnip shavings.
Other interesting choices included bourbon marinated steak tips and short rib grilled cheese.
For dessert, we were tempted by the BBQ special was a strawberry shortcake sundae on a cornflake crumble rather than a biscuit, and the chamomile crème brulee. But the waiter recommended that a nice way to end a rather heavy meal was to go for the key lime cheesecake with coconut crust. He was right, it was surprisingly light and limey, with a side of chopped mango. The chocolate cake with roasted marshmallow and ganache frosting was a real kid-pleaser, with a side of house-made vanilla ice cream laced with malted milk balls and chocolate cake crumbs.
The waiter led our choices all night, telling us about the crowd favorites. Service was efficient and informative. The waiter even had one of those table crumb blades to clear our table. Good portions, with plenty of leftovers.
FYI: They are serving a special Father’s Day Brunch: From 10AM to 2:30PM Tryst will be serving a special two-course, prix fixe brunch menu including a complimentary Bloody Mary or a non-alcoholic cocktail, choices that include Wild Mushroom Omelet with truffle oil, Steak & Eggs, and Tryst's Angus Sirloin Burger with cheddar cheese and house made pickles with a choice of hand-cut fries or greens. $28 per person (tax and gratuity not included).
689 Massachusetts Ave
Arlington, MA 02467