Trinosophes is a wise choice


1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit


Handicap accessible

Salad, soup, breakfast dishes: $4.50-$7

Brunch: $6.50-$9

Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday,

9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, weekend brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

I've bumped into a couple of people recently who are working their dream jobs (MT contributor Curt Guyette is one of them). It's a kick to bask in their contentment, and even more so when their job helps make the rest of us happy.

Opening Trinosophes, the gallery, performance, and café space by Eastern Market, was Rebecca Mazzei and Joel Peterson's dream, and I was glad to learn that the café part, which has been going since spring 2013, wasn't added just because every cultural space has to offer victuals these days.

Rather, in this case it's easy to see how creating a space with WiFi with good tea, coffee, and food makes the big, warehouse-like venue so much more of an institution, a place to hang out during the day and come back to at night for the music. (Genre: "anything interesting" — from chamber music to a 2,000-year-old band from Morocco.) Each time I visited, I found plenty of people working on their laptops at well-spaced tables, sufficient to add to the bottom line if they came up for sustenance often enough. There's so much room that there's no pressure to move along.

And the space is welcomed by people who don't stick around for the nighttime offerings, too, such as regulars who work at the Gratiot Central meat market across the street, or denizens of Lafayette Park. Visiting Europeans find it useful as a source of information on what's happening in town, Peterson says. He's thinking of putting up a six-foot slate with event listings, if he can figure a way to hang it on the wall.

It's a bonus that the café uses real silverware — silver plate, not stainless — and real dishes, not disposables, with decent napkins. And it's not surprising that the short list of dishes shows touches of artistry; how could it not?

A breakfast taco is typical: barely crisped corn tortillas filled with perfect scrambled eggs, red pepper, purple onion, and slices of green and yellow avocado, topped with white Mexican crema — it's a lovely composition as well as liltingly luscious.

I love it when a restaurant is generous enough to serve breakfast anytime. Here it's till 3 p.m., which is almost as good. The biggest seller is a breakfast sandwich with cheddar and Canadian bacon, served on a fabulous house-made buttermilk biscuit. This biscuit is drenched with butter, irregular, also great with blueberry jam.

It's hard to get behind the idea of porridge in a restaurant, till you hear that the one served here is steel-cut oats, barley, chia seeds, apple compote, steamed milk, and an almond praline.

Brunch offerings include challah French toast with bananas and whipped cream, a beautiful spinach and red pepper scramble, and roasted vegetable hash. The latter is cauliflower, winter squash, and potatoes, each item cooked to the right doneness and the whole, with a crinkled-edge fried egg on top, providing plenty of umami. This and other dishes can be served with mild and succulent pulled pork, spicy soy chorizo, or a side of pepper bacon.

I'm not usually a fan of Cobb salad, which too often seems like a salad in name only, all about the meat. At Trinosophes the chefs wisely eschew the traditional tomato — wrong season — and use tasty greens, no iceberg, along with shredded cheddar and Gorgonzola, plus bacon. The light ranch dressing is served on the side in a shot glass.

The menu changes seasonally and is tweaked weekly, but for now a thick white bean chili with chicken is offered, along with Mexican hot chocolate, hot cider, teas from Rishi, and coffees from local roasters (Anthology in Corktown, Ugly Mug in Ypsi). In this rehearsal for the polar vortex, I loved the turmeric-ginger tea with orange oil, which Peterson says sells as much as the other teas combined.

If you're planning to stay all day at Trinosophes ("three-fold wisdom"), there's plenty to do on your breaks. Besides a library and a small collection of T-shirts for sale, there's a branch of Peoples Record Store, with displays of old jazz posters from Detroit and lots of vinyl for a buck.

Till Dec. 28, there's a unique collection from former Detroiter Brad Duncan (Comrade Brad): a show of posters and pamphlets from revolutionary groups of the'60s through the '80s. One poster reminds us that Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh share a birthday. There's a Manifesto for a Black Revolutionary Party by James Boggs, husband of Grace. The Red Women's Detachment denounces the rest of the women's liberation movement for using the women's symbol, claiming the symbol represents genitalia and therefore "suggests masturbation and all the limits of sexual subjectivity." Study Mao-Tse-Tung-Thought instead! And I love it that the Communist Labor Party included an 800 number on its "Who's Looting Who?" leaflet.

About The Author

Jane Slaughter

Jane Slaughter is a former editor of Labor Notes and co-author of Secrets of a Successful Organizer. Her writing has also appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, Monthly Review, and In These Times.
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