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Trium Wines’ tasting room hits the trifecta with outdoor dining, music and tapas

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Spicy shrimp pasta is a Friday tapa at Trium Wines in Talent. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Grenache rose and “grower's cuvee” are poured at Trium Wines’ downtown Talent tasting room. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Chicken croquettes are among several appetizers priced at $5 Friday evenings at Trium Wines in Talent. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Chocolate "lava cake” is drizzled with caramel at Trium Wines in Talent. Photos by Sarah Lemon
The “tornado potato” at Talent’s Trium Wines comes with spicy dipping sauces. Photos by Sarah Lemon

A trifecta of live music, outdoor seating and Latin-fusion fare enhances Trium Wines’ theme “of three.”

The downtown Talent tasting room tantalized me throughout the restaurant industry’s recent ups and downs when outdoor seating could make or break a business. It’s been a few years since Trium gained a spacious back patio, but the accommodation acquired new relevance during the coronavirus pandemic.

The stars didn’t align, however, for a visit to Trium on a Friday evening when live music corresponds with an expanded small-plates menu — and reservations are almost compulsory. Then wine columnist Paula Bandy spotlighted tasting room manager Carmen Munoz’s culinary contribution to the Trium experience. Despite temperatures lower than the region had seen all winter, my partner and I reserved a table with high hopes.

Escorted to Trium’s patio, we each plucked a fleece throw blanket from baskets appointed for customers’ use. The umbrella heater was fired up over our bar-height table, and guitarists Dennis Konecny and Asa Hoffman had already begun their set.

Staff ferried beverages almost as quickly as customers filled tables positioned around fire pits. Keen to try a flight of five wines, we had to settle on full glasses because the tasting room is simply too busy on Fridays to juggle so many varietals for each customer. The 2018 Grenache Rose ($7) called to both me and my partner, but I balked at sipping a chilled liquid in the frosty breeze and changed my order to Trium’s 2017 Grower’s Cuvee ($9).

The food menu numbered 10 items, not including Trium’s typical cheese and charcuterie platters. Prices and descriptions implied appetizers and snacks, more than main courses. The chorizo pasta with spicy shrimp ($15) topped Trium’s list — and ours. We also requested the “tornado” potato ($12) with “delectable toppings and sauces” and a starter of chicken croquettes (two for $5) in defiance of the delicacy suggested by Munoz’s empanadas, priced at $5 each.

Not as diverse as a restaurant menu, Trium’s tapas recast proteins in several different iterations. The empanadas, yucca fries ($12) and plantain chips (three for $5) all feature either pulled pork, chicken or soy chorizo. Munoz also caters to vegans and other health-conscious diners with avocado toast ($12) and soy chorizo flatbread ($15) with pesto, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Both dishes are served with salads.

Cooked from scratch, ingredients are fresh and organic, says Munoz, a native of the Dominican Republic who moved to the United States in 2008. Founded in 2003 by Laura and Kurt Lotspeich with two other families, Trium was purchased in 2017 by Anthony Corallo, who credits Munoz with much of the business’ evolution.

Trium’s food certainly has evolved under Munoz beyond the pizza, crostini and snack boards standard in the region’s tasting rooms. And the energy that pervades Trium on Friday nights mirrors Munoz’s upbeat spice palette and playful plating.

Cuddled in a tiny cast-iron skillet, the croquettes countered the cold outside with delightfully crunchy exteriors encasing moist, steaming-hot centers. A squiggle of aioli alongside was a nice, creamy accent that we would have enjoyed in a larger quantity.

Trium’s rose delivered all the delicate fruity notes the menu promised, and my partner and I tried not to sip it too eagerly. The cuvee, a Bordeaux-style blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, also was an easy-drinking wine with balanced fruit and tannins.

Trium’s penne pasta dish comprised more shrimp than noodles, contrary to my expectations. My partner and I both murmured appreciation for the assertive seasoning and the shellfish’s caramelized exterior. I assumed from the menu’s explanation that the accompanying sourdough toast was mere filler, but the slice was indispensable for retrieving all the savory pasta sauce from the bowl.

Thirsting for another glass of wine, I decided that ordering from the bar might produce the quickest response. Customers conveying full bottles and glasses to their tables, however, enjoyed the most efficient service — and best prices, from $19 to $38. Beers and ciders are priced from $5 to $7.

I delivered my request for a glass of 2018 Malbec Reserve to two different servers before it arrived, closely followed by the “tornado potato,” which my partner had intended as his entree. Yet we were plenty pleased to share the pasta as a main course and the potato as a snack-worthy side dish.

Resembling a hasselback potato, the spud was sliced and threaded onto a wooden skewer before baking to crispy perfection. The result was better than french fries, providing wide surfaces for swiping up the generous pools of hot sauce and smoky, chile-laced mayonnaise.

Cooling the burn with something sweet relegated us to chocolate “lava” cake, Trium’s only dessert. With an exterior almost too perfect to be house-made, the cake was arrayed in a hearty helping of caramel sauce and finished with a chocolate-coated Pocky. While not exactly molten, the fudgey center was satisfying for the very reasonable price of $5.

Trium guests request their checks and pay at the bar, surrounded by a few tables and cushioned chairs for patrons who prefer the temperature indoors. Located a 203 E. Main St., Trium is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Saturday through Monday, until 7 p.m. Friday. Call or text 541-625-9100 for reservations. See triumwines.com

Tempo Tidbits

March sandwich sales at Jersey Mike’s Subs support Special Olympics.

The franchise’s 12th annual “month of giving” campaign encourages customer donations at Jersey Mike’s restaurants to assist nearly 30 Team Oregon athletes and the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. The campaign culminates March 30 with Jersey Mike’s “day of giving,” when 100% of the day’s sales — not just profits — go to the Games and the state programs attending the June event in Orlando, Fla.

The company hopes to surpass last year’s $15 million raised for charity. “Month of giving” efforts have raised more than $47 million for local charities since the campaign’s 2011 inception.

Jersey Mike’s has been involved with Special Olympics since 1975 and is recognized as a presenting partner for the Games, held June 5-12, when 5,500 athletes will compete in 19 team and individual sports including gymnastics, swimming, tennis, basketball, flag football and more. Special Olympics drives a global movement using sports to end discrimination and to empower people with intellectual disabilities. See 2022usagames.org

With 24 locations in Oregon and more than 2,000 nationwide, Jersey Mike’s specializes in hot and cold submarine sandwiches on fresh bread baked in the stores — a format that hasn’t changed since the first location opened in 1956 in Point Pleasant, N.J. Southern Oregon locations are at 1421 Center Drive, Medford, and 200 Terry Lane, Grants Pass. See jerseymikes.com

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Traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare is on the menu through March 17 at Ashland’s Skout Taphouse & Provisions.

Corned beef and boiled cabbage, carrots and potatoes get a boost from Skout’s house-made mustard and Irish cheese sauce. Sized to feed at least two diners, the meal costs $30. Pouring more than 60 beers and ciders on tap, Skout staff recommend pairing with a Guinness stout and Harp lager “black and tan.”

Located at 21 Winburn Way, Skout is operated by Tom and Lisa Beam, who also own Ashland’s Pie + Vine. With a mountain lodge aesthetic, Skout serves a casual but eclectic menu of burgers, tacos, chili, bratwurst, salads, fish ’n’ chips and snacks.

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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Amuse Restaurant’s last day of operation is April 16.

The Ashland restaurant announced its upcoming closure this week on social media and encouraged customers to reserve through OpenTable or by calling 541-488-9000.

Serving French-inspired Pacific Northwest cuisine, chef-owner Erik Brown opened Amuse at 15 N. First St. in August 2000 with Jamie North, who went on to open Ashland’s Mix Bakeshop and Remix.

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole.dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.