Tryst Restaurant, Arlington, MA

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | May 5th, 2011 | Chef Interviews

The name of the restaurant itself is intriguing.  Once you add wonderful dining and wine menus, a creative chef, and fabulous atmosphere, you have a restaurant that you must visit.  I spoke with Chef Paul Turano to learn more about this enticing dining destination.

TT: What makes the food at tryst “unpretentious”?

CT: I use ingredients that the everyday cook can recognize. That being said, I try to use them in a unique manner that makes my guest say, “Oh, I didn’t know you could do that with that ingredient.” I’m always challenged by walking the line between my creative vision and simply feeding people. I think every chef struggles with that. I personally love to create, and some people are just going to want a burger..and that’s fine….I like burgers, too. But, you can bet that if you’re going to make me cook you a burger it’s going to be the best burger you’ve ever had, and I’m going to make the pickles from scratch and hand-cut the fries.

TT: Your menu offers a nice variety of dishes from various corners of the world.  What is the source of your culinary inspiration?

CT: My culinary inspiration comes from my constant search for the perfect meal.  I have lots of cravings for different cuisines and Tryst’s menu reflects that.  I never wanted to be put into a box where I had to do French or Italian food.  This country is a melting pot of great food, and I like to give my guests tastes of things that I have been curious about or am interested in.  Fortunately our guests seem to appreciate it.

TT: With an item such as Spring Parsnip Ravioli, it is apparent that your menu isn’t static.  How often do you change the menu?

CT: Our menu changes entirely 4 times per year.  That said we do make 5 or 6 adjustments based on seasonality and availability.

TT: What menu items would provide a guest with a well-rounded dining experience at Tryst?

CT: If I were to dine at tryst and was trying to get the full effect of what we are trying to accomplish, I would have the shrimp tacos for an appetizer, the duck for the entree and the lemon Chiboust for dessert.  That would also be my last meal if they ever convict me for that “thing” in Mexico in ’78..kidding….or am I?”

TT: Tryst is a playful name for a restaurant.  Does that feeling continue into the atmosphere and menu?

CT: The name definitely carries through the menu.  We offer a dining experience that is suited for date night, a casual rendezvous, or a non-committal after-work drink.  As far as the atmosphere, vibe and concept…honestly, people still aren’t getting us completely. I would love if people really “got it” and maybe they will someday…maybe they won’t…either way I’m not going to change who we are. I need to have fun and enjoy not just the food aspect, but the business side of this as well. I see people everyday walk past our restaurant and walk into chain restaurants here in our ‘hood, and it kills me. Do they know what it takes for a chef to bring you quality, fresh locally-sourced food? Food that a chef actually researches and creates with his own hands rather than in an R & D lab? Also, I’m a huge fan of the person that takes a few extra minutes to investigate things deeper. That being said we’ve done some pretty fun things here. For example, we have a cool program called “you’re on the menu” where we will re-create any dish from your childhood or your travels once a month. I think that is pretty cool! Also, if you click on the photo on our website it always has our newest promotion, our next event or special promotions, secret menu items, etc. You’d never know that, though, unless you took a minute and played around on our page. Our vibe is playful. We’re a city restaurant in a neighborhood, and I hope people come here…eat dinner, look around and realize we’re a pretty cool choice.

To learn more about tryst (or to see what’s behind the photo), please visit their website.

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