For something a little different while in Lafayette, check out the fashionable new Trynd Restaurant and Boutique Lounge, which was recommended to me by Ginger Hebert, a longtime resident who always knows what is hip and happening around town. Before interviewing the owner and later the chef, I spent an incognito evening there enjoying the chic ambience while sampling the contemporary Italian fare and checking out the lively social scene.
Owned by a seasoned restaurateur who has several other dining establishments in Lafayette, Trynd is a good place to land for a special evening out, from the delicious food to the hip vibe and polished service provided by a well-trained staff.
Due to its diverse offerings, Trynd is many things to many people. Located in the historic, beautifully renovated Masonic Lodge that formerly housed Stan’s on Vermilion Street, Trynd offers a variety of venues in its sprawling 10,000-square-foot building situated in the heart of the arts and entertainment district downtown.
Locals congregate after work for wines by the glass, specialty cocktails, and signature martinis at the sleek martini bar on the first floor, while others enjoy al fresco Sunday brunch and lunch in the patio embellished with a tiered fountain.
A more formal, upscale dining room on the first floor provides an elegant setting for delectable antipasti offerings that include my personal favorites: roasted beets with fried goat cheese and arugula drizzled with Steen’s cane vinegar, and steamed mussels with a spicy tomato and fennel broth, plus entrées such as homemade pastas (try the seafood ravioli), fresh pan-seared redfish with a smooth lemon and caper butter sauce, succulent grilled lamb chops Romano tinged with a sun-dried tomato and caper aioli, and pan-seared scallops with angel hair and a rich sage butter sauce. You can also reserve the chef’s table, which features multicourse dinners paired with fine wines.
After a sumptuous dinner, you can go upstairs for cognac and cigars in the cigar bar, or drinks and music in the nightclub decorated with low-slung leather chairs, deep sofas, and soft, flattering lighting. It’s a hot spot for those who enjoy romantic interludes or just hanging out with friends. After around 10 pm, the swinging late-night partygoers often dance until the wee hours. There is usually a DJ on hand, but live bands also perform on select evenings.
A pianist occasionally will perform in the cigar bar and the martini bar, where you can order items from the full menu, and also enjoy the bar bites that include meatball skewers, shrimp Diablo, sweet potato fries, and “poor man’s caviar,” which blends olives and anchovies.
Special community events and fundraisers are frequently held in the labyrinth of private rooms. Early last year, a fundraiser was held at Trynd for Payton’s Play it Forward Foundation and Protect Our Coastline. The New Orleans Saints head coach, Sean Payton, was among the celebs who mingled with the more than 700 people who attended the fundraiser.
Trynd’s owner, Nidal Balbeisi, who is a native of Kuwait, has been operating restaurants in Lafayette since 1995. His dining establishments include four in downtown Lafayette, which is the hip place to go and enjoy live music at the various bars on weekends. Balbeisi worked closely with his interior designer, Todd Zimmerman, to renovate the building before opening Trynd, which reflects the exposed brick, old tiles, and original architecture that dates back to 1916.
If you are familiar with restaurants in Lafayette, you may have dined at some of Balbeisi’s other places, which include Agave Mexican Grill and Cantina (known for its great margaritas and Tex-Mex cuisine, located near Sans Souci Parc where outdoor concerts are frequently held), or perhaps Zeus Café and Zeus Express (offering Greek and Lebanese dishes at several locations in Lafayette; there are additional outlets in Carencro, Youngsville, Broussard, and Lake Charles).
“This I my twelfth restaurant,” Balbeisi says of Trynd. “I created the name of the restaurant because I wanted the restaurant to be trendy and fashionable. Food has become an extreme art.
“Trynd has five concepts within one,” Balbeisi continues. “The main dining room is Old World. Within that is the family-style room with a ship’s table where we serve platters, and everyone digs into the same plate. Then there is the martini bar, which we call the Modern World. Then you have the outdoor area, which takes you to Rome, with all the greenery and lighting. From there, you can go upstairs and visit the lounge and banquet areas, and enjoy the New Orleans-style balcony, which overlooks the fountain and the entire downstairs.”
No doubt about it, the diversity of venues under one roof is unique for Lafayette, and is a welcome big-city-style addition to the dining scene. If you go there for lunch, order the delicious paninis, frittatas and omelets, and various salads with add-ons such as Ahi tuna, grilled steak, and fried oysters. Among the best cocktails on the drink menu are the Bellini Martini with Ketel Oranje, peach nectar, and champagne; and the Chocolate Dream with Stoli Vanil vodka, Nocello, a touch of cream, and Godiva white and dark chocolate. The wine list is impressive and reasonably priced.