Healthful food prepared with global influences and verve served in a trendy setting
What do smoothie bowls, a pop-up Middle Eastern market, inventive cocktails, yoga classes and electronic dance music have in common? If you answered “Trism,” you know about the newest operation from the A&R Creative Group.
In June, A&R — which is best known for its two Crest Gastropubs — opened Trism near the heart of the Ohio State campus, where Eddie George's Grille 27 formerly stood. The extensive makeover of that space speaks to Trism's ambition.
One scenic holdover — the popular patio — wasn't altered much, but rather than a burger-happy sports pub, the big-and-open interior now recalls a merger between a health-food restaurant, a nightclub and a study hall. Embracing such a mixed identity, Trism asserts on its website that it “changes minute-by-minute.”
So within confines that feature geometric designs, natural light, simple tables and wooden furniture with charger ports galore, yoga classes are taught on Saturdays. At other times, there might be a gathering to discuss the plight of immigrants, a Lebanese-style bazaar or a dance party with attendant DJs and trippy visuals squiggling across a giant screen. And between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., food is served.
Branching out from the menu of another A&R enterprise, Alchemy Juice Bar and Cafe, Trism's goal is to offer contemporary fare made with super-healthful ingredients assembled so the results don't taste like medicine. This goal is generally met, albeit not always inexpensively.
Several versions of glorified toast are offered ($3.50). Order Avocado Toast and you'll get one piece of toasted hearty bread spread with mashed avocado and sprinkled with sea salt, chili flakes and microgreens. Tack on a cocktail ($8) — such as the delightfully frothy, well-named Tart Cherry Fizz (powered by gin) or the Trism Tang, which is made with vodka, turmeric and real fruit juices but tastes like its eponymous powdered drink with a ginger kick — and you've got a winning snack.
For something more substantial, head to the “Bowls” menu section. The best bowl I tried, the SXSW ($9.50), borrows its title from the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals. Basically a “naked burrito,” it's black beans, stewed chicken, bell peppers, rice (without the advertised herbs), and tangy-yet-creamy sauces all draped with pickled mango and jicama. The good-looking, good-tasting construction came with almost-crisp tortilla chips.
Another bowl I can recommend is The Med ($10.50). Three flavorful, warm falafel patties plus a scoop of hummus sweetened with beets played nicely with shaved pickled turnips, properly massaged kale, aromatically glazed sweet potatoes and more.
The Poke ($12), made with sushi-grade salmon rather than raw tuna, is OK for an appetizer-sized dish masquerading as an entree. Perfectly fine fish is teamed with chunks of funky pickled turnip, kale, black rice and nori strips, plus garnishes of wasabi-avocado cream and sesame seeds.
If you have an even smaller appetite, you might try the petite Banh Mi bowl ($10.50). If so, I hope you like salty, pleasantly herbed lamb meatballs that are oddly hard and partnered with compatible — but hardly Vietnamese — hummus with ostensible cilantro-lime accents plus rice (again missing its herbs). A smattering of cabbage, pickled vegetables and jalapenos also appears, but without a unifying sauce or crispy roll, they just seem like bystanders.
To sweeten your experience while staying true to Trism's healthful aesthetic, order a hefty matcha-and-ginger Superfood Poptart ($4.50) or a Superfood Donut ($3.50; nice, just a tad dry) or an attractive smoothie bowl such as the fruity Blueberry Almond Butter ($8) or the more-indulgent-tasting Chunky Monkey ($8).
Like Trism's best fare, they're pretty good — and make great occasional substitutes for the average college student's standard food groups of grease, sugar and beer.