For many years, the restaurant that is now Trinity, on Zion Street in Hartford, was Timothy's, and had a loyal following among people who loved its good and inexpensive food, its unpretentious atmosphere and its Black Magic cake. I ate there with a large group recently. For many of us, it was our first time there in the post-Timothy's era.
THE VIBE: Very old-fashioned, with its half-century-old Sprite billboard, wrought-iron fence and brick courtyard. People who haven't been since it became Trinity have to be careful to enter through the lefthand door, rather than the righthand one, like before, which leads to the kitchen. Once inside, it's very cozy, especially since Trinity just installed leather banquette seating that runs almost the length of each wall. So comfortable, especially for large groups.
THE FOOD: The meal began with cute little fresh rolls, to be dipped in olive oil with red pepper sprinkled in. Tasty. Our group stuck with only a few main dishes. The big hit was spinach manicotti, ordered by three people. When the dishes were cleared away, their plates were the cleanest, with one person (a Trinity regular) giving a lot of praise to the sauce. Two people ordered spicy chicken gorgonzola. It surely was spicy, with broccoli, peppers and zucchini, served on a bed of farfalle. Two ordered small pizzas. The restaurant had no problem adjusting the ingredients to make the pizzas more heart-healthy. One pizza-eater was happy with his food. The other said "it's OK, but this isn't a pizza place." Two people ordered Caesar salads, one with blackened chicken and the other with salmon. Both ate every bite, although the person who ordered the salmon thought it would have more kick. (She said "when I hear chipotle, I think spicy.") I ordered the oven-roasted Australian lamb sandwich, with red onions, cucumbers and yogurt. I asked for no onions, which I got. The lamb was moist and flavorful and the roll was wonderfully toasty, but the chef sprinkled the sandwich with jalapeños, which weren't listed on the menu. That was a really bad idea. One other disappointment: Some of the soft driniks were flat.
THE BILL: Appetizers, including soups, salads, antipasto, garlic bread, mussels and side dishes, range from $4.50 to $15. Entress, including sandwiches and a good variety of pasta dishes, aren't that much more expensive than the appetizers, ranging from $10 to $18. If you want, there's pricier stuff on the menu, from filet mignon ($26), paella ($27), swordfish ($26). There are also a variety of pizzas, which start at $10. That Black Magic cake is still on the menu, as well as other desserts ranging from $2 to $6.
THE PARTICULARS: Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Major credit cards accepted.
THE VERDICT: Of all the meals of our large group, mine was the worst, so I left the restaurant cranky. But seeing as everyone else left the restaurant happy, I'll go there again. Still, the chef should know better than to surprise people with unexpected ingredients. It's bad enough that I don't like jalapeños on lamb. But what if I had been allergic to jalapeños?