Bold, Petite, Enthusiastic Fare at Trenza
At the recently opened Latin-Indian fusion restaurant named Trenza, Susie Jimenez creates dishes that match her physical and personality traits: bold, petite, enthusiastic, and colorful.
Photos by Carla Soriano Trenza's seared scallop is served atop a cauliflower and garlic purée.
All over the menu, Indian spices and Latin foods -- and vice versa -- play together in bold strides to create an animated dance of captivating flavors in the form of small plates. Curried braised short rib tamales illustrate the notion perfectly. Duck fat incorporated into the tamal's masa heightens the "sin" factor of the four-bite portion of tamal, and is the perfect greasy companion to the slightly dry short ribs inside seasoned with masala, a mix of Indian spices. As the unexpected masala flavors make you sway from side to side in delight, a bright pop of spicy green Mexican-style sauce topping the tamal spins you around, reiterating and reminding you of where that tamal dance began: Mexico. You're spun around once more, however, when you taste the char of the masa -- yes, char. Chef Jimenez unwraps her tamales before serving them and chars the edges, a delightful twist that makes the dish even more likable.
In another dish, a beautifully seared scallop stands high and mighty while a bed of cauliflower purée twirls gently below with the twang of ginger, forming an ever-so-creamy concoction that carries and complements the scallop in a most ceremonious fashion. Jalapeño and shallot-dressed watercress adorn the plate, only slightly upping the tempo on the otherwise pleasantly mellow creation.
Jimenez's Hispanic heritage shines through in her curried braised short rib tamales.
Other appealing dishes include a Lemon-Crusted Jalapeño that cha-cha-chas with ricotta, blue cheese, and bacon, all with a lemon cumin crust. Turmeric Potato Tacos served with an apple-herb slaw and coriander crema quenelle sound like they would be a great Bollywood number -- with turmeric being the heroine and coriander its backup dancer. The menu may be small (about 30 items total), but there's plenty of attractive acts to be found, and there's no shortage of Jimenez's Hispanic heritage shining through.
The drink menu, particularly the cocktail section, is quite appealing as well. House-made bitters, syrups, and fresh fruits, along with their juices, combine to form tasty drinks with big personalities -- a perfect match for the food's bold flavors. Aguas frescas, or non-alcoholic Mexican fruit-flavored waters, are also among the in-house-made beverage selection. They're served in a carafe that's good for one or two people to sip on. The Hibiscus Black Cardamom Spritzer is a real winner -- refreshing, perfect for any season, and not overly sweet.