I just read yesterday that Trelio which has been recommended on this board in the past will be opening in June under new management by Chris Shakelford who is now the Wine Manager for Erna's Elderberry House.
It will be interesting to see how it goes. I have enjoyed several meals here in the past. Each time, the dining room fills up as the evening progresses. The Spanish artichokes were a favorite appetizer for our group. Service and food were always stellar.
The Sturdy Wench and I ate dinner at Trelio last night.
Currently Chef Mike is serving a classic French onion soup that , in my shy, understated, coyly-digging-my-toe-in-the-dirt way, I'll say will make you want to be a better person just to justify your proximity to this soup. Rich, oniony, beefy, with a crisp floating crouton of cheesy baguette, it is a soup I would willingly free fall off a helicopter into 100 gallons of.
I really liked the soup. If you try it (and it's served only in the winter), I think you will, too.
The SW had the hog chop, I had the Mary's chicken breast. I've written often enough about Trelio I don't need to bang its drum yet again, so I'll simply say both meals were outstanding in every aspect. (The smoked gouda cheese grits served with the pork was a good as it sounds.)
Crawfish bread. Seafood gumbo. Pan-seared duck breast. Sous vide chicken breast rubbed with truffle butter. Chocolate-peanut butter souffle.
Those were the prix fixe Mardi Gras menu items last night at Trelio. Yes, they tasted as good as they sound.
The crawfish bread was a narrow sandwich of sliced white French bread with a shredded crawfish salad filling. I was initially disappointed in the size of the offering until Jon, our waiter, explained the the richness of the dishes to follow would be overwhelming if diners filled up on the bread. A-.
Trelio's seafood gumbo was made with a dark, toasted flour and oil roux, almost chocolate in color. Chunks of andouille sausage, chicken, shrimp, blue crab, lobster were plentiful and delicious. A small scoop of long grain dirty rice in the middle of the plate provided a nice visual counterpoint to the dark soup. Looking at my notes, the words I used to describe this dish: Rich, velvety, earthy, smoky but not charred, intensely flavored. The Sturdy Wench looked me in the eye as we finished out soup and said, "Ken, you are NOT allowed to lick the bowl!" Damn! A+.
For the next course, she had the Muscovy duck breast with house-made boudin blanc, slow-braised collard greens in a cane sugar gastrique. I ordered the Mary's Chicken (organic, free range, from Pittman Farms here in the central Valley) which came with the same accompaniaments.
The duck breast was mild, juicy and full of flavor. The chicken was incredibly juicy, perfectly cooked and seasoned, and possessed a nicely crisped skin. The chef had rubbed the whole chicken with butter and slid sliced truffles under the skin, which gave the meat an rich and intense flavor I've never had in chicken before. A+
Neither the Sturdy Wench nor I had had boudin blanc before. It was a white sausage, made from ground chicken and breadcrumbs. The texture was unexpectedly soft, almost like mashed potato in a casing. It took me a few bites to accustom myself to it, but it tasted of chicken and spices and herbs. I won't grade this because I've never had boudin blanc before so it's not fair to judge it, other than to say I'd eat it again but not travel for it.
The collard greens were excellent, still possessing that earthy green flavor and they were overcoated with the gastrique which provided a nice sweet complement flavor. A.
Dessert was a small chocolate-peanut butter souffle with a warm rum anglaise sauce. This was ideal: Soft, bready, crispy on top, thick with flavors of peanut butter and chocolate, and dotted throughout some chopped nuts (couldn't tell what type) and all served piping hot in the middle. This was comfort food to beat comfort food. A+.
#1 - Ladle bouquet! My birthday gift from the lovely Sturdy Wench. Earlier I'd been stomping around the kitchen, waving my arms and ranting about the lack of available when-I-want-them ladles, and she decided to pour ladles on troubled waters. Behold! A++
#2 - Gumbo!
#3 - The sous vide chicken breast with truffles, collard greens and boudin blanc. There was also a schmear of mashed sweet potato, which provided a visually interesting element to plate and was darn yummy!
#4 - I told you the soup was good!
(My picture of the dessert come out poorly so I'm not posting it.)
Tuesday night was the Bordeaux/Meritage Blends Wine Dinner at Trelio. Attendance was good, we tasted 14 wines.
The appetizer was Pate de Campagnia, a satisfying cut of a grainy-style pate capped with several spears of peeled baby asparagus, a dollop of pale yellow cream truffle dressing, and off to the side, a quivering spoonful of garnet-colored port wine-madeira gelee.
This pate's consistency was firm, not mushy, and was a cloud-gray shot through with tiny dark speckles and white pinpoints (cracked pepper and fat, I believe.) The taste was ideal: Rich but not smothering, with an herbal counterpoint to the richness of the pate. The mouthfeel was superior with the firm consistency providing a pleasant texture to the teeth and tongue.
The cream truffle dressing was a miss--bland and no taste of truffles. However, the gelee more than made up for it. I tasted the smoothness of the wine reduction and when coupled with the fattiness of the pate, the two made an incredible combination of fruit and meat, acidity and fat. I could not *not* eat the pate and gelee together.
The asparagus were cooked to a perfect tender crispness and were full of spring vegetable flavor. They almost acted as a salad to the pate, providing a welcome green note. The pate: A.
Next was the creamy golden-colored Butternut Squash Soup w/ Parmesan and Fried Sage. This dish gave me the best quote of the night: "I would crawl on my hands and knees for more."
This soup is one of the best I've ever had in my life, and the best I've ever had at Trelio. The butternut squash flavor was as obvious as a Cadillac driven into a swimming pool. Every spoonful shouted the buttery, mellow squash taste, supported by cream and a bit of butter itself. The tiny sage sprig added a hint of itself into the soup, elusive yet visible on your tongue here and there, providing a whimsical and satisfying touch. A+.
Entree: Cabernet-Braised Lamb Shank w/ Fave Bean-Corn Succotash, Lamb Jus. My first sight of this dish tickled my whimsy and I laughed with pleasure as the wait staff served plates of this to diners. "Lamb with an antenna" is how it looked to me, with the meat base hugging the plate and the single frenched shank bone rising gracefully 10-12" above it.
The lamb was cooked perfectly to medium, falling off the caramel-colored bone and packed with flavor. The taste was mild but not comatose and lamb meat's familiar back-of-the-nose taste was well-served by the fresh garden taste of the succotash. The beans were plump and firm, but not chewy or under-done, and the jus was full-flavored, it brought everyone together under the tent. A.
By now I'd had 14 wine tastings and my notes became increasingly brief, so I apologize to Chef Mike if this last description misses anything.
Port Wine Poached Pear En Croute w/ Roquefort Semifreddo finished us. The pear half, peeled and cored, lay cut side down in a ring of flaky crust and wore a jacket of melted chocolate. Currants in sauce and a tiny mound of the semifreddo rested against the croute. (The semifreddo was a sleeper--apparently some of the diners missed the descriptor "Roquefort" on he menu card and spooned in, expecting vanilla ice cream.)
The sweetness of the pear, chocolate and currants provided an unusual and startling offset to the creamy funk of the Roquefort. I'd never tasted anything like this before. For the first spoonful or two, my tastebuds were locked in the jury room, but by the third, they'd reached a unanimous verdict: Guilty on all counts! Pleasure! Give us more, you idiot!
Our wine, the Donati, came in 8th. However, the Sturdy Wench and I both gave it perfect scores, something unprecedented because she and I have utterly opposite tastes in wine. The nose was luscious with cinnamon, brown sugar, oak, leather. Taste was absolutely smooth, no bumps or dead spots, the flavor layers integrated masterfully. Overall, a bright, charming taste with a smooth, medium finish. I've seen it retailed online for as little as $22 for a 750ml bottle. I'll check prices today for Old Docs, BevMo, Wine Exchange in Orange County, or (my favorite) Red Carpet in Glendale.
Here's the link for the wine tasting results:
The wine dinners at Trelio represent the best examples of Chef Mike Shackleford's cooking. Anyone who loves excellent food will find a happy home here.
Okay, just returned from the Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre wine dinner at Trelio.
+ The lamb Parmesianna was a thick, juicy lamb patty, 3 1/2 - 4" across, covered in melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese, surrounded by three or four of Trelio's delectable roasted red and green tomatoes in fennel pollen sitting in a small amount of the fettucini. Excellent, very fresh tasting, wonderful lamb flavor in the meat nicely accompanied by the fresh garden tomatoes.
It looked so good, tasted so good, I forgot to take a picture of it and there were no leftovers for a shot. My bad.
Salad? My mouth has never said these words before: The salad was the best I've ever eaten in my life. The peppery greens, coupled with the creamy and mild bleu cheese, added to the fruity grape and finished with the crushed nuts held together in a mouthfeel that was everything good: Creamy, peppery, crunchy, tangy, fruity, pleasantly acidic.
The venison was tender, cooked to rare, yet pleasantly resilient in my mouth, providing excellent "bite." It had no hint of gaminess and compared in texture to the most tender possible beef. The exterior was nicely seared and caramelized and had been dusted with crushed black pepper, so taste of the meat flooded my mouth and the contrast between the meat's interior and exterior provided a marvelous palette for the other meat flavors, as well as those of the puree, squash, blackberries, gastrique.
For dessert, the creamy brie was delicious, surrounded by a shatteringly crisp phylo wrapper. The pistachio butter was terrific: Nutty, smooth, and it perfectly complemented the caramel and the fig.
Photos in order. First the menu card, then the dishes. I'm still learning how to use my camera, so please excuse the uneven photo quality.
I'll have to eat *no* sodium the next day or two to make up for this dinner, but it was worth it.
I can do better than that. Here's a link to all the wines and their scores.
Our wine, the Zaca Mesa, Z Cuvee, Santa Ynez Valley, 2004, came in 5th overall, but was one of only two wines I scored as "Nearing Perfect," the highest score, so I'm pretty chuffed. :)
Of course, life being what it so often is, my wife scored the wine in the "Other," or lowest category. Go figure. (This isn't uncommon for us; we have nearly opposite tastes in wine and movies. But she lets me stick around anyway. "Comedy relief" she says.)
Tuesday night the Sturdy Wench got me in an armbar (this is what happens when you marry the daughter of a wrestling coach) and hauled me off to dinner at Trelio. Here's a (I deleted the word "brief" here) report.
The SW ordered off the menu: Duo of Pork and Bacon-Braised Lentil Ragout: Apricot Glazed Tenderloin, Grilled Boneless Chop, Alsatian Choucroute, Grilled Apples. ($28)
We traded bites of our meals and her dinner was amazing, excellent flavors and textures in everything. This is definitely a dish I'll order.
Since she had just gotten a bonus check, I splurged. I had the Prix Fixe menu with wine ($58): Cured Copper River Salmon with Cucumber, Horseradish and Potato Salad. Wine: Red Car, Think Pink, California, 2005.
> This was served carpaccio style, thin slices of salmon layered on the plate, with a few what looked like dried capers (but I forgot to ask about them.) The salmon tasted fresh, no "fishy" smell, and it was moist and succulent. The salad was like a potato salad, served in a short cylinder in the plate's center. The horseradish provided a nice bit of punch to the potato. A+.
> The wine was excellent, the flavors smooth and layers of flavor well-integrated but not closed off. Tasted of cherry, grass, pomegranate, citrus. Medium finish and nice, easy tannins, just enough to cut through the salmon. Easy drinking. I would buy this wine. A.
Lobster Bisque with Crayfish Tartlet
> I asked to sub the bisque for the origial soup, a red pepper and corn soup, as the bisque was on the menu and lobster bisque is my favorite soup. The waiter wasn't sure they could do that, but Chris, an owner, was standing nearby and cheerfully said, "No problem."
> The bisque wasn't bad but it was the low point in the meal. The color was wonderful, a rich earthy brown, the texture was velvety smooth, but the soup tasted like lobster shell and was very salty. The SW tried a spoonful and made the "no" face. She thought it tasted metallic and strange. It was still good enough for me to finish, but I wouldn't order this again. C-.
Frog's Legs, Escargot and Bone Marrow with Grilled Apples, Roasted Garlic, Parsley Nage. Wine: Chateau Lasgoity, Rogue du Val, Madera, 2005.
> I confess, I'm still new to fine dining. I'd never before tasted frog's legs, escargot or marrow, so I decided if these items would be well prepared, it would be here, so I "what the hell"'ed and tried these.
> I now love frog's legs. "Tastes like chicken", errrm, yeah, but IMHO much better than chicken. Sweeter, very tender and with a bit more flavor. I could eat these things by the platter.
> Escargot: I now like escargot, too, although I won't go all fainty over them. They'd been cooked in garlic and butter, wine, and were delicious. I won't be too scared to order them in the future.
> Bone Marrow: Our waiter Jon said people would call Trelio and request this specifically, and many consider marrow a delicacy. It was offered in a 4-5" bone standing upright on the plate and you ate it by digging it out with a spoon or knife. To me, marrow looked and tasted like beef fat. It had a huge beef flavor hit, but the fattiness of its mouthfeel was overwhelming to my virgin palate. I appreciate the opportunity to try this, but marrow's not something I'd order.
> The roasted garlic and apples were full of sweetness and their individual flavors. The apples were chunked and the garlic was whole cloves. The parley nage is a smooth, bright green, pureed sauce that added a nice herbal touch to the dish. A-.
> I forgot to write my notes for the wine, but I remember it was excellent, perfectly chosen. The deep red wine had a powerful, smooth flavor profile, with enough oomph in the tannins to handle the marrow and the butter from the escargot and mushrooms. I would buy this wine. A.
Peach Tart Tatin with Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream. Wine: Quinta de la Rosa, Ruby Port, Portugal.
> The tatain was fresh from the oven; the peaches ripe and flavorful, nicely carmelized and the crust was crisp but not dry or shattery. The "ice cream" was actually vanilla-infused whipped cream, but was rich, dense and loaded with a pleasant vanilla flavor. Overall the dish was light but not puffy or bland, and really showed off the full flavor of the peach and the vanilla. A.
> The port was very nice, not too sweet or syrupy. I was getting pretty blissed out by now so my notes are sketchy here. I would buy this. A.
We have to limit our Trelio adventures or our budget rolls over and goes "blooey!", but every time so far I've eaten here I've not been disappointed in the food, ambiance or service. Some dishes I liked better than others, but that's life.
If anyone wants to do a Chowdown here, please email me. I'd be happy to organize it.
Wonderful report KW!! I have been intending to try Trelio's, but being situated in the Fig Garden area a trek to Clovis is quite a journey sometimes!! Just the mention of bone marrow is enough motivation though. Is the Downtown Club going to reflect the menu (wine and cuisine) of Chris and Mike Shackelford?
Chris and the Sturdy Wench talked about this very thing that night. I was happily sipping wine and eating great food, so my main attention was elsewhere. Here's what I remember: The DC serves a broader base of clients than Trelio, so the menu will be likewise broader, and will include some classics like Caesar salad. They will, however, be offering Trelio dishes, too.
However, Chris will be running the place and they are upgrading their facility to attract more business and professional conferences and meetings. They're also putting in some state-of-the-art video conferencing and projection equipment into one room, including a "smart board."
I don't recall anything said about the wine, but given Chris' passion for wine and abilities with same, I bet he'll make the cellar his own.
BTW, the drive from Fig Garden to Clovis isn't as long as you might be afraid. I make that commute at least twice a week, and the fastest, easiest way is simply jump on 41 S to 180 E and then take the 168 to Clovis. Exit @ Herndon, turn right, turn right again on Clovis Ave., it's an easy 1/2 mile drive and then on your right, under the "Clovis: Gateway to the Sierras" sign. Travel time is barely 20 minutes.
I used to live in Waco, TX. It wasn't unusual to drive 100 miles north to Dallas or the same south to Austin for a good dinner, so driving to food is something I'm used to doing.
Thanks for the info on the DC. Went to a wedding reception years ago and was not impressed. I'm sure the changes made by Chris will make it stellar!!
Don't get me wrong, BF and I have driven four hours for wonderful dinners before (and stayed overnight close by). It's the whole police and checkpoint fiasco that has taken over Fresno that keeps us to our nearby favorites. Trelio's is on our top priority list, and we are looking forward to it. They are only open for dinner, correct? Wine bar open at three? I heard that the wine bar offers hard to find labels and vintages, plus "cult" wines, is this true?
Police and checkpoints? I haven't seen more than a few of these in the 4 yrs I've lived here, and each time was on a major holiday. Am I living on the wrong side of the tracks?
We eat there often enough (lots of times just coffee and a split dessert) that we know their schedule pretty well.
The web page contains some outdated information. Call them to confirm times and availability before you show up.
They are *not* open for lunch except for pre-arranged private parties. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:00. Wine Bar open Tuesday through Saturday, 3:00 to 9:00. Closed Sundays and Mondays. 297-0783.
Their wine list seems quite extensive, featuring varieties and vineyards I'd never heard of, as well as more familiar ones. Chris enjoys talking about wine and he'll happily answer your questions. While they don't serve liquor, they do offer wine cocktails. Their wine margarita is pretty good!
Check out their web site and their dinner menu. (The site hasn't been updated for a bit, so ignore the lunch menu link.) They have small plates at $7-$12 per, so you don't have to drop a wodge of cash to eat there.
The area that we live in (Palm and Sierra) has checkpoints very near it every couple of months. The mutiple reasons being is that in the North Pointe shopping center (Palm and Herndon) has three venues that host late-night "club" atmospheres, and the city has caught on to the fact that many people drive from either Tower or the Champlain/Perrin/Fort Washington area on Palm to get back to their respective homes after having a few drinks. So perhaps you do live in an area that is not majorly targeted whereas we do. We like to compliment wine with our meal but don't wish to be penalized if it was only a couple of glasses (and not enough to take away our ability to drive).
Again, thank you for answering my questions on Trelio's!! I look forward to dining there, or perhaps stopping by their wine bar. I did check out the website and, even if it is a bit dated, the menu and prices seem completely outstanding and reasonable. The wine dinners seem intriguing and fun.
Ken, do you know when they stopped doing lunch? We're in Old Town frequently for various reasons. It can't have been that long since I walked by there on a weekday and read the lunch board. Or maybe it has and I have just lost track of time.
In terms of police checks, yes on the east side of the metro area too. I've been through a couple in the past 6 months or so. A Clovis PD operation on eastbound Herndon near Villa and a Fresno operation on Nees around Cedar or so.
Trelio re-opened under Chris and Mike Shackleford in the summer of 2006. The Sturdy Wench and I have been regulars there since autumn. Their website is at:
We shanghai our out of town guests to Trelio, and we'eve evangelized our friends as well.
To compare, last winter I ate at Top of the World in Las Vegas, a fine dining restaurant more expensive than Trelio but of much less quality.
I can't recommend this place highly enough. IMHO it's the best restaurant in the Fresno/Clovis area in terms of food quality, cost, service, ambiance and staff friendliness. Even the guests are friendly: One afternoon a couple sitting next to us offered my friend and I glasses of their Chalk Hill chardonnay as they couldn't finish the bottle.
Chris was indeed the sommelier at Erna's and he brings his encyclopedic knowledge to the restaurant. Mike is the chef in the kitchen and he has introcduced us to some amazing dishes: Tri-tip marinated in chimichurri, black truffle meatloaf, mushroom bisque, roasted tomato in fennel pollen, and the best mac & cheese I've had.
Mike and Chris* like to come out and meet their guests, talk with them, and they'll answer your questions gladly and enjoy talking food and cooking. Mike is especially free with tips and advice when asked and I haven't yet asked him a recipe of his he hasn't given me. Both men have extensive experience cooking and managing in major food markets like New York City and New Orleans.
Their desserts are flawless. Last night the SW and I had the flourless chocolate torte and the fresh mango cake in a shortbread crust. Both were packed with flavor and texture--there was no way this came out of a dessert factory in Scottsdale. Their pastry chef is Chris' wife, Amy. It's a shame she and I are married to other people, because after trying her key lime pie a few months ago, I was ready to hurl myself at her feet in lifelong servitude as long as she kept cooking. Of course, after eating Mike's chimichurri-marinated tri-tip, I was ready to have his child, so you can tell the food here affected me spectacularly. Thankfully my wife (the Sturdy Wench), although in similar enjoyment, wasn't as overcome as I was, or our holidays would have become much too weird.
The downside to Trelio is since there's only one chef, service times tend to be longer than average.
The ambiance is restful but not coma-inducing. Walls are light taupe with white crown molding, side molding and black iron chandeliers. The floor is charcoal carpet and the chairs are cherry armless and tables are white cloth-covered. The restaurant seats about 40. Trelio is now only open for dinner, 5-9, although the wine bar opens at 3. Entrees range in price from about $22-$36. Free street parking is available, but plan to park at least a block or two away if you go during a farmer's market, rodeo or fair.
*Chris has just taken over the Downtown Club in Fresno, so now spends most of his days there.
Not a number of times. The original owner passed away, then someone else had it for under two years. This will be the second time it has changed hands since Elio sold it.
I'm certain Chris will do wonderful things and we'll be sure to report here when it re-opens in June. Right now they are remodeling. It was very nice as it was, tho. ss