BY ELENA MANCINI
A stone’s toss away from the bustle and human bottle-necking of the Bedford and North 7th L train subway stop stands Trix, an original restaurant that pays tribute to the vestigial industrial character of Williamsburg’s Northside.
With original artwork that melds garage with lyrical, encompassing portraiture, industrial scultptures and craftsmanship by Minneapolis-based artist, James Johnson, Trix exudes unforced bohemian appeal. The aesthetic concept behind Trix is the result of restaurateur, Veso Buntic (also owner of Anabale Basin in Long Island City) and Johnson’s close collaboration. A venture that began in 2011, both artist and entrepreneur wanted to incorporate visual artifacts that would evoke the restaurant’s previous occupant and a nod the the Williamsburg of a grittier era. Belinda’s Go-Go Lounge inhabited the site until 1987. Belinda’s occupied the space until 1987, and is memorialized with stained-glass lettering on Trix’s storefront and tasteful portraiture in the restaurant’s interior.
As to the interior, sheets of gray metal span the length and breadth of the ceiling. Flamingo mosaics adorn the base of a sumptuously sculptured bar. A wave like structure in pewter forms the base and 100 year old lit alabaster spans the bar top. With arachnid sculptures hanging from the walls, the expansive bar weds Goth with Miami deco. If the visual effects of the bar will draw you in, Trix’s winning speakeasy-style cocktail list designed by Dusan Zaric of Manhattan’s Employee’s Only and an eclectic wine list definitely want to make you stay a while. The Amelia cocktail prepared with fresh blackberry juice, elderflower and vodka is a wonderfully smooth way to downshift after a long day at work or to spark a night out. For a more warming pick-up, opt for the Peach Smash, made with Makers Mark and Creme de Peche with lemon juice. Most cocktails are under $15 and closer to $10. They can be had at a discounted price in addition to $3 beers and $5 select wines during Trix’s Monday – Friday (4-8) happy hour. $1 oysters with a complexly fiery harissa sauce complete this happy hour bonanza.
Pescetarians and seafood lovers will find themselves cheerfully rewarded with a locally-sourced French-inspired menu with global influences executed by Chef Ian Pasquer. However, the offerings hold ample selections for the meat-and-poultry-oriented as well. A great deal of Trix’s fish and seafood is sourced by D’Artagnan in Manhattan. Small plates range from $6-$12. Entrees range from the low 20s to $25. Desserts are under $10.
Honey-tenderized grilled octopus salad was an enjoyable small plate. Optimally-charred and supremely tender, the octopus rested atop a bed of aged balsamic dressed watercress making it a highly recommendable starter-choice. Mushroom polenta is a grounding and tasty vegetarian alternative. Perfectly crisp and delicate wedges of polenta are perched atop a bed of cremini mushrooms in a white wine reduction. Shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano tie the flavors and textures together.
A felicitous adaptation of escargot was Chef Pasquer’s appetizer, Stuffed Icy-Blue Mussels with Almond Escargot Butter. The fulsome and yielding mussels were deliciously stuffed with breadcrumbs and Mediterranean herbs in a piping hot Almond Butter sauce making a dish worthy of standing on its own and not in the shadow of its conch-housed cousin.
Scallops and foie gras delivered their own distinct flavor rewards. The scallops, soft as clouds furnished the unmediated flavors of the sea. The foie gras was predictably rich, but had an added dimension of tang that deepened its earthy flavors.
Seared yellowfin tuna came perfectly rare with a side of anchovy caper salad.
Chocolate suicide was a flourless decadently creamy triumph by Chef Pasquer, who is also Trix’s pastry chef.
Polite and knowledgeable service, expertly executed quality ingredients and moderate tabs make Trix a fun, low-key restaurant with flavor rewards, and a trip on the overly-congested L line well worthwhile.