When I mentioned that I was moving to Delaware, reader Andrew reached out to me to invite me to the restaurant he manages in Philadelphia, Trio, among the city’s best-reviewed Thai restaurants, with a menu that includes a few influences from outside of Thailand along with traditional Thai items. The meal was superb, and my wife (who loves Thai food but rarely has it due to a shellfish allergy) and daughter (who’s a pretty good eater, but didn’t like Thai food the first time she tried it) both enjoyed their meals tremendously.
For starters, my wife ordered the vegetarian spring rolls, which included shiitake mushrooms along the julienned cabbage and onions in the filling, and were fried perfectly and served extremely hot. These also formed a significant part of my daughter’s dinner once she stopped complaining about the temperature (and we pointed out that she could actually wait a second before trying to eat them … she inherited her patience from her father). I ordered one of the special items, a strawberry gazpacho with jicama, avocado, and chili peppers, a little on the sweet side for me but with a good balance of acid and heat underneath the natural sweetness of the berries.
My entree choice was the crispy roast duck, a standard menu item with a sauce accompaniment that changes frequently; on Saturday the sauce was a lychee-cherry concoction, sweet and tangy, but barely necessary given how amazing the duck was. The breast meat was cooked just past medium, not dry but not still quacking, which is how I prefer it, while the skin was crispy without any grease and allowed the natural sweetness of the skin to shine through. My daughter loves duck as well and helped me pick the bones clean, while she also dipped everything she could into the sauce on my plate, including the duck and the lemongrass pork meatballs she stole from my wife’s pad thai. Those meatballs were outstanding, incredibly aromatic with lemongrass, onion, and (I believe) ginger, while the sauce on the noodles themselves was less sweet than the pad thai I typically get on the rare occasions I order the dish at Thai restaurants. (I avoid it because it seems to be the most “Americanized” dish at such places, made sweeter for U.S. palates, but losing me in the process.) My daughter didn’t love her own entree, a basil fried rice dish that had a strong cumin flavor and some surprising late heat that I thought was excellent but was a little too spicy for her.
The dessert menu is more eclectic, reflecting the owner’s current interest in Mexican cuisine (he’s also a pastry chef, and owns the small Mexican restaurant Isobel on the same street as Trio). My daughter inhaled her tres leches cake with homemade marshmallow sauce, while my wife and I split a chocolate-hazelnut mousse with an Oreo crust … and I might point out that the mousse and the marshmallow sauce also went together very well.
Trio is BYOB, and the place is fairly small so I’d recommend a reservation for a weekend. It’s a wonderful spot, and it was a nice treat for me to have Thai food with the family, made possible because the staff was so good about dealing with our unfortunate (especially for a Thai restaurant) allergies. Full disclosure – the meal was comped, although I left a tip for about 50% of what the bill would have been.
The meal at Trio finished off a day in Philly for three of us that began at Shake Shack – the first experience there for my wife and daughter; my daughter loved their grilled cheese while my wife and I split a fair trade coffee shake that tasted like real coffee – and included several hours at the amazing Please Touch Museum, the main children’s museum in Philly, with a few fun exhibits of vintage toys that made my wife and me feel very, very old. I did get a kick out of the displays of Easy-Bake Ovens throughout their history (as well as some knockoffs; my daughter couldn’t name a single room as her favorite, but she enjoyed the art room, the small rock-climbing wall, and the astronomy/rockets room, where kids launch foam rockets off air guns to try to put them through hoops hanging from the ceiling.