Tryst – Delray Beach, FL
As you’d expect, going out to dinner is something of a hobby for me. Forget that, it’s more like a passion. But sometimes it’s nice when I don’t have to travel the 50 miles to Miami, or the 20 miles to West Palm Beach. A nice 5 minute drive down to Atlantic Ave. is the perfect distance, especially when the destination is a plucky little gastropub, right here in Delray Beach! I had driven past Tryst many times and never really gave it much thought. It sits in a long row of restaurants at the westernmost end of Atlantic Ave.
We arrived early on a Friday night. Atlantic doesn’t really start jumping until 8:00 pm or so, which worked out since we were on a schedule and couldn’t really be waiting around for the hipsters to clear out. Thankfully, many eateries on the main drag, Tryst included, haven’t overlooked the virtues of outdoor seating. We took our seats adjacent a beautiful wall of graffiti and got to studying. My wife’s truffle radar homed in on the ‘not house made’ french fries with truffle aioli and angry ketchup. I’m not sure what the deal is with the ‘not house made’ thing, but the fries were crispy and golden, the perfect vehicles for the near habit-forming aioli. The ketchup was tasty, but we fell so hard for the aioli that we ordered a second cup.
The fries were a promising start, but my sights were set on the “Bones & Fat” section of the menu. Any self-respecting gastropub needs a menu section devoted to these two ambrosial items. I had three choices, Chinese pork ribs with hoisin BBQ, toasted sesame and cilantro, roasted marrow bones with smoked sea salt, fig jam and baguette, or the obvious choice…fat vs. fat, confit pork belly pitted against a slab of seared foie gras. If Eat a Duck had an encyclopedia entry, you’d find a photo of one or both of those items. I was delighted to hear that the flavor profiles of this dish change regularly, on this night, it was buffalo pork belly and maple glazed foie. It was an intriguing combination and I was eager to see how it played out. The dish was set before me sending both buxom proteins into a slight wobble. Both were cooked perfectly, the foie yielded to my fork without a fight and was near liquid at the center, the sweet glaze pairing perfectly with the savory interior. The pork belly was wonderfully tender as well, but I’m not sure if buffalo is the right style for this cut of meat in particular. The spice, while tasty, overpowered the delicate pork with its partner in crime, generous chunks of blue cheese. I have to give them credit for creativity on that one, but I reckon the pork belly would have performed better with a different flavor profile. But that’s what evolving menus are for right?
Tryst offers a few options for veggies, but the true headliners lie toward the bottom of the menu. House made sausage of the day, a pork belly burger and a butcher’s cut along with fresh mahi tacos and fish n’ chips with aged vinegar are just a few of the tantalizing choices. As usual, we were on a budget, but that doesn’t mean we had to settle for less in the flavor department! Being recently crowned the “prince of pasta” by my esteemed colleague, I lived up to my title and ordered the penne, smothered in red wine braised beef, tomato, rosemary, broccoli rabe, and my personal favorite hard cheeses, grana padano. The wife chose the enticing ricotta flatbread with roasted garlic pomodoro and basil pesto, that’s my girl!
The pasta was toothsome and seasoned nicely, with healthy chunks of braised pork, smothered in cheese. The broccoli rabe added a nice bitter note without bullying the other flavors. The taste really coalesced when it was allowed to cool a little. The flatbread was a winner right out of the gate with the sauce lending a sweetly tart tang, mellowed by the dollops of fresh ricotta. It made a welcome transformation as the pesto hit our tongues. The common thread being garlic, garnered no complaints.
Finding a decent gastropub in a major cities can be a difficult task, so my discovery of Tryst came as a welcome surprise. We left satisfied and more than eager to return again soon. So on the off chance that any of you find yourself hungry in between West Palm and Miami, head over to Tryst if for nothing else than to see what form the pork belly/foie battle has taken on!