At Trillium, Not All My Questions Were Answered, But the Most Important One Was.

I had my questions about Scandinavian food.
Many of us do.
Though I’ve not yet been to this region [Iceland and Holland are the farthest north I’ve gotten] – it’s never been considered a food mecca, until Noma in Copenhagen single-handedly made people take serious notice of what is possible from this part of the world.
I was surprised when Trillium opened in Ballpark in late 2011.
I thought it was a bold move by Chef/Owner Ryan Leinonen, whose family hails from Finland.
It made the Top 25 in 5280’s annual pick of Denver’s best in 2012; ranked number 16.
This is no small thing in a restaurant’s first full year.
It’s always fun and interesting to read their list, but even more so in the past couple of years, when the Denver restaurant world has blossomed with talent.
But, but.
The food has been plain each time I’ve visited Trillium.
Lackluster.
These are not words I want to have to use to describe any food, and especially not that of a place I also long to experience as a gem.
Lemon and dill pickled shrimp was good, but not great.
The flavors were fresh, and that helped this dish a lot.
Still, I’ve had shrimp similar to this many times, at many places, so there wasn’t anything especially exciting about it.
Aquavit-cured salmon with a loose, tiny dice egg salad was good, but not great.
The naturally gray, fatty part of the salmon was hard and chewy and unpleasant.
The egg salad was dull.
On one visit, the pork terrine – the only thing on the menu that sounded good to my dinner date – was so disconcerting, we had to go across the street to Marco’s to get him a pizza.
Undercooked bacon enclosing dry, dry pork, sided with two rounds of dry, dry brown bread.
Each time I’ve dined there, there’s been a largely older crowd.
I like to dine among all ages, but understandably, there’s a more subdued energy in this case, and lacks the vibrancy of atmosphere I crave when eating out downtown.
I don’t want it loud and rowdy, but I don’t want to hear a pin drop either.
The bartender was gracious and accommodating.
The drink list is impressive, with a wonderful array of cocktails, including a stellar one called the Ballpark Ballet: Banks 5 Island Rum, Canton, prosecco and the real kicker, kir egg foam [!].
The GM, Michael Ivey, personally delivered our plates to us on a recent visit.
I found this the ultimate in lack of pretension, the absence of which always charms me.
Ryan seems like a great guy.
And an earnest one.
I like him, and I root for him.
Still, still.
We’re awaiting 5280’s 2013 list, but there are serious concerns in my mind about it ranking at all this year.
They are coming up on their 2-year anniversary, so any food kinks should have long been worked out by now.
Also, there is just too much impressive competition in our city.
Not all of my questions were answered, but many were.
The most important one being – when I want to dine downtown, will Trillium be a restaurant of choice?
For me, the answer, I’m truly sad to say, is no.

2134 Larimer Street
trilliumdenver.com
303.379.9759

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