June 28, 2013 Updated: July 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm
The Trinity Brewing Co. started life as a brewery in 2008. A quirky and inventive menu was devised to accompany its beers, with all of the food coming out of a tiny kitchen.
Fast forward to 2013. The brewery recently expanded, giving Trinity much more room to brew. The kitchen remained the same size.
Enter Rob Vlascity, the new kitchen manager. Since a small kitchen inside a brewery cannot be all things to all people, he rolled out a streamlined menu in June, taking advantage of what Trinity can do best. If you're prone to researching before you visit a restaurant, be aware that the online menu has not been updated to reflect the changes.
Trinity is, first and foremost, a brewery. To this end, it has an ever-changing variety of specialty beers, as well as a stable of perennial favorites. Sometimes the small batches are so popular they sell out the same day the kegs are tapped. Reliably available are brews such as Soul Horkey Ale, an English-style ale with a great balance of malt and hops. The Sunna Wit Bier is a delightful summertime quaff with subtle and refreshing citrus notes. The Chi Belgian Pilsner is light in color but full of flavor.
The appetizers are the most interesting spot on the menu. Even something as simple as Belgian fries ($6) are elevated to a new level of deliciousness. The potatoes, which are fried twice as Belgian fries, arrive golden and salty in a cone, simple but flawlessly executed. The sweet potato fries ($8) are equally good orange tangles of sweet potato burnished from the fryer. I also love the fact that they don't douse perfectly lovely sweet potato fries with syrup or cinnamon-sugar.
You have a choice of two dipping sauces with the fries, and the decision is difficult. Choose homemade ketchup, rich with slow-cooked tomato flavor and a hint of allspice, or curried ketchup with the distinctive tang of Indian spices and a little heat. There's also the Flo Beer mustard, crunchy with mustard seeds and hot with a lingering bite of horseradish. The buttermilk ranch has a soothing dairy creaminess, pleasant without being over-seasoned. You can also get a bleu cheese or barbecue sauce, but I haven't worked my way around to trying those.
The award for quirkiest item should go to the vegan buffalo wings ($10). The base is seitan, which is sometimes called "wheat meat," a wheat-based meat analog prized for mimicking the look and feel of meat. At Trinity, cubes of seitan (wheat gluten) are deep-fried, then tossed with a tangy spicy sauce. How good are they? The die-hard carnivore in our group loved them.
We had a slight blip with the candied pecan salad ($9). The fresh, organic greens were good. The blanched green beans were crunchy. The fresh parsley and basil played nicely with the candied pecans. But the description calls for sugar snap peas, and someone in the kitchen stuck their hand in the wrong bowl. Our salad came with edamame instead. They were cooked, but unshelled. While the flavor was fine, it was an unpleasant surprise when the first one was bitten into: Those unshelled pods aren't meant to be eaten.
The burger selection is short but sweet.
The Greek lamb burger ($14) is big, seasoned with cumin and smoked paprika before grilling. It comes with a side of the perfect accompaniment, a creamy yogurt and cucumber tzatziki sauce. The sliced avocado that was supposed to be here ended up on the falafel burger, but nobody complained.
The falafel burger ($12) is a traditional falafel patty made large. The house-made chickpea patty is seasoned with cumin, garlic, onion and a little jalape?. Served with onion, tomato, lettuce and cucumber on top, this burger also comes with a delicious tzatziki sauce.
The Port-aki burger ($12) is a mushroom lover's dream. A smoky, meaty, roasted portobello mushroom cap is smothered with saut?d shitake mushrooms. The whole thing is melded together with a layer of melted Gruyere cheese, and accented with sweet roasted red peppers and a basil aioli.
While the burgers are delicious, they seem a little lonely on the plate. They are served with garnishes but no sides. Some chips and salsa, a small salad or fries would go a long way toward making the burgers seem more of a meal for the price.
The Colorado sirloin ($16) is a beautiful 6-ounce piece of meat, cooked exactly the way you want it. On the side are tiny, roasted potatoes and a rich, slightly thickened red wine jus. This rests on a bed of arugula and baby spinach, and my dining companion took the dish to new levels when she drizzled the buttermilk ranch from the fries over her plate. It united all the elements, so don't hesitate to ask for a side of the ranch if you order the sirloin.
The Mahi Mahi ($15) is as visually appealing as it is delicious. The piece I had was a shade undercooked for my liking, but that didn't stop me from eating the whole thing. The fish is saut?d and rests on a puree of edamame and green peas enlivened with a touch of wasabi. The fish is further enhanced by a topping of crunchy snap peas and scarlet roasted red peppers.
The ramekin of sauce is a combination of sweet caramel sauce and salty soy sauce, reduced into a concoction I'd eat on almost anything, ice cream included.
Restaurant character: Trinity Brewing Co. is a laid-back, friendly brewery with a small menu of very good food. The vibe is relaxed, and it’s a spot you can feel comfortable taking your kids.
Rating total: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars
Ambiance: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Service: 3 out of 5 stars
Address: 1466 Garden of the Gods Road
Contact: 634-0029; trinitybrew.com
Hours: Noon-9 p.m., Mondays-Thursdays; noon-11 p.m. Fridays; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays
Credit cards: Yes
Vegetarian options: Yes. Some vegan.
What’s online as of June 19:
• 77 percent of 221 voters “liked it” on Urban Spoon
• 3.5 out of 5 stars based on 136 reviews on Yelp
• Very active on Facebook; search “Trinity Brewing”
• No violations noted during March inspection by the El Paso County Health Department.