Trio’s (Where Friends Go to Meet Friends!)
Destination: Monroe, Louisiana
By: Tara Ambrose – Tara’s Taste of the Town
Conveniently located in the heart of Monroe, between the comforts of the historic Garden District and the elegance of River Oaks Subdivision, Trio’s is a lovely restaurant is where comfort-convenience and class all collide!
Jennifer Johnson and her family have had a long legacy in this area as proud restaurant owners, first with the family’s first venture, “Rendezvous”, which Jennifer transformed into a vision of her own when she took the reign of the eatery in 1995 and proudly dubbed it “Trio’s”. With an eclectic mix of North Louisiana based favorites, mixed with the perfect seasoning of down-home Cajun comfort food, with liberal amounts Mediterranean inspired dishes added to the recipe, one can easily see why Trio’s is where “friends meet!”
Throughout the years, Jennifer has not only been interested in the realm of cuisine, but she comes from the background of being a social worker in the culturally diverse city of New Orleans, which has proven very useful in the restaurant industry. From humble beginnings, Jennifer started out in 1995 with the dream of merely a “dive”, but what evolved is nothing short of a visually stunning restaurant with a menu as different and diverse as the woman behind the scenes!
Jennifer humbly shared with me that while some of Trio’s recipes are actually her very own, some of those crafty creations are that of Jennifer’s trusted Chef, Tommy James, who has been by her side for some 18 years, although she can’t help but thank Darrius McCall for the contributions that he has made to her ever successful kitchen that make the menu at Trio’s a fanciful feast to dazzle all of her diners, satisfying both young and old alike!
Amidst the attractive ambiance, beautiful bar, and trendy décor one cannot help but take note of the fabulous appetizers offered as a precursor to your meal. Keeping with true her vision, Trio’s offers appetizers such as its Original Hummus, (served with roasted garlic, black lives, feta cheese and surrounded by sundried tomatoes to be enjoyed with either white or wheat pita bread), Quail Kabobs, Steak Bites (served with house made horseradish), Artichoke Dip, scratch-made phyllo dough wrapped shrimp – lightly fried and served with a mai ploy sauce, as well as the fabulous Flat Bread Mediterranean. Should you become perplexed at all the phenomenal choices and not be able to decide on just ONE of Trio’s appetizers, the ever popular “Mediterranean Trio” may be just what your girls are in the mood for! Consisting of three amazingly tantalizing dips: Trio’s Hummus, Tzatziki (which is a Greek cucumber yogurt dip), and also the roasted red pepper and feta, all served with enough pita bread to be shared with friends over a glass of wine or spirits!
Trio’s also offers diners with an assortment of Louisiana favorites such as plentiful po-boys bursting with shrimp, oysters, thinly sliced roast beef or grilled chicken breasts, each served on the freshest Gambino bread, and adorned with your choice of amenities.
From scratch-made specialty items such as their Mediterranean Quesadilla, Trio’s famous Seafood Gumbo (served in a bread bowl for the ultimate enjoyment), Crabmeat Moussaka, Crawfish Etouffee, Fish Tacos or a Trio’s favorite – their lightly breaded tilapia topped with gulf shrimp, then garnished with a lemon butter sauce, there isn’t anything on this menu that wouldn’t serve to entice even the finickiest of appetites.
As for those culinary connoisseurs looking to satisfy your palatable cravings without so much caloric concern, Trio’s has a menu sure to please those who prefer the “greener” options. Starting from the freshest romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce or spinach leaves that have been hand selected for the freshest taste, and paired with such succulent amenities as roma tomatoes, mushrooms, kalamata olives, purple onions, brightly sliced bell pepper rings and topped shredded cheddar, parmesan or feta cheese, scratch made bacon bits and croutons. To accompany your salad selection, Trio’s offers grilled chicken, shrimp, tuna or the ever popular Gyro Lamb. For a perfect pairing to your garden fresh delight, Trio’s proudly boasts a variety of dressings that include their house-made Mediterranean, buttermilk ranch, honey mustard, blue cheese, 100 Island, French, Caesar, balsamic vinaigrette, olive vinaigrette, or a sweet/sour vinaigrette that is absolutely mouthwatering!
Now should you feel the need for a little more variety, Trio’s also offers a simply delightful Summer Salad that carefully combines blueberries, cranberries, feta cheese and almonds, all combined together with hand selected spinach and romaine lettuce, dressed with their fabulous white balsamic vinaigrette – a delight even to the most delicate taste buds.
Still not found what your taste buds are craving? Have no fear! Trio’s also offers house-made 12” and 14” specialty pizzas that are crammed packed with options such as feta cheese, cheddar cheese, provolone, sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, spinach, black olives, mushrooms, jalapenos, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic! Now if that still not exactly what will calm your hunger pangs, Trio’s also offers diners with a variety of pastas such as fettuccine Alfredo (topped with either chicken or shrimp), traditional spaghetti & meatballs, or Trio’s Pasta – which consists of sautéed tomatoes, onions, black olives, mushrooms and bell peppers all perfectly seasoned with Trio’s house seasoning, laid atop a mountain of angel hair pasta, topped with your choice of shrimp or chicken, and garnished with parmesan cheese.
As your meal dining experience at Trio’s comes to a close, and you should have saved space, Trio’s offers delightful desserts such as the “Brownie Melt-A-Way” which is topped with Ganache chocolate, the Creole Cream Cheesecake (Chef John Folse’s original creole cream cheesecake), as well as everyone’s favorite bread pudding, drizzled in a decadent rum sauce that will leave even the hungriest of patron with the sweetest of dreams!
A mere step through the front doors at Trio’s will have you and your friends returning again and again for the food, spirits and the good times to be shared by all! So stop by and visit with Jennifer and the Trio’s gang, but be sure to take your appetite with you!
Q & A with Jennifer Johnson
Where is Jennifer’s favorite place to dine for breakfast out with her family? Jennifer prefers the brunch at Restaurant Cotton whereas her sons, Michael, Leeyton and Ely all prefer IHOP!
Where is Jennifer’s favorite place to dine for lunch/dinner out with her family? Restaurant Sage or Genusas’
Where are Jennifer’s favorite all around eateries in Louisiana? Cochon on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans!
What does Jennifer enjoy doing when he is not at the restaurant cooking? Traveling, reading and spending quality time with my children and my family
What are Jennifer’s favorite teams? The SAINTS!
What is Jennifer’s favorite thing about the North Louisiana region? “The outdoors are nice, so many friends and really everything is just so nice here.”
Does Mark do any volunteer work of any kind currently? Trio’s supports the Salvation Army
What is Jennifer’s personal menu favorite on the menu at the eatery? “Gosh, there are so many choices that I like! There’s the Gyro Salad, Fettuccini Alfredo and the steaks – oh the steaks!”
What is Jennifer’s favorite “junk food”? Raising Canes!
Any accolades she’d like to mention? Nominated for the Thomas H. Scott Award for Excellence
Anything else that he’d like the readers to know about himself, his family, his goals, his vision for the eatery? “Everything in the restaurant business is a passion – good food, good service and being a part of the Family”
Jennifer's Garides Saganaki
“Shrimp baked in tomato sauce with feta cheese”
Yield: 4 servings
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1/2 c finely chopped onion
- 1/2 – 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 lbs shrimp (medium sized, peeled, deveined with tails)
- 1/2 c finely diced tomato, drained in colander for 5 minutes Salt
- 2/3 c hard feta cheese (you may leave feta out overnight uncovered in fridge to harden)
- 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté onion over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and pepper. Add shrimp until they become firm. Add tomato and salt to taste and cook until sauce begins to thicken. Add feta cheese. To make a heartier dish, I sometimes add orzo. Top with parsley after plating.
Simple and delicious! Enjoy with chilled white wine, salad and crusty bread!
Tara brings impressive experience to our table. She contributes to several publications including, DeltaStyle Magazine, Louisiana Kitchens & Culture Magazine, Culination Magazine and her first articles will appear in Wine Tourist Magazine in 2016.
Welcome Tara! We look forward to working with you.
If you are curious and want to learn more about Tara, please lease visit Tara’s Taste of the Town on Facebook.