Just west of the Midtown intersection where Olive Street makes a northwest jog, leaving Lindell Boulevard to carry on westward to Forest Park, the Triumph Grill sits on the east side of Grand Center, not an unreasonable stroll from the Grand Boulevard entertainment venues. The Kranzberg Center, the Fox and Jazz at the Bistro are easy walks, and when the weather turns more clement, Powell Hall, the Sheldon and the Grandel are only another block. Easily visible from Lindell with a jazzy electric sign that fits in with the others that mark the area, the Triumph seems to be pulling clientele that’s more than just the pre-performance people.
Just west of the Midtown intersection where Olive Street makes a northwest jog, leaving Lindell Boulevard to carry on westward to Forest Park, the Triumph Grill sits on the east side of Grand Center, not an unreasonable stroll from the Grand Boulevard entertainment venues. The Kranzberg Center, the Fox and Jazz at the Bistro are easy walks, and when the weather turns more clement, Powell Hall, the Sheldon and the Grandel are only another block. Easily visible from Lindell with a jazzy electric sign that fits in with the others that mark the area, the Triumph seems to be pulling clientele that’s more than just the pre-performance people.Although it is named for a brand of motorcycle, and attached to the Moto Museum, the restaurant doesn’t let the theme overwhelm. And don’t get the idea this is a museum café. This is definitely a full-service restaurant, though the bike-loving owner displays his feelings, and writes about them, too, on the back pages of the menu. There one finds the clues to what’s what, including menu items named after race sites and the fact that the hanging sculpture in the first, quieter, dining area, is actually made of cycle wheel hubs and spokes. In the same room, a long, framed piece is an assemblage of speedometers, with a few tachometers thrown in. (Check the one from a Honda that looks like a thermostat.) In the bar, a fireplace crackles and posters dot the walls. Smokers stay in that area, and for those concerned, the bar is at the far end of the house, so it isn’t necessary to pass through it on the way to a table.
Two visits gave a certain amount of contrast. We were more than happy with the service, and the first courses worked very well. The main courses bounced us around like a wrestler at the Chase.
Mushroom lovers will be very happy with the mushroom and leek soup, rich and creamy with a full-bodied flavor that sneaks up on the unwary. And the tandoori chicken melt, like a fat quesadilla, was a winner, the pickled red onion rings giving a little crunch, and bits of mango bouncing around in the mouth. Chewy but not tough, scented with cumin, it worked well. And the onion rings. Wow! This is a large serving, ten immense rings, neatly arranged to allow for air flow to help them stay dry. Well drained, extremely crunchy from a shower of panko crumbs, and darn close to perfect, they were accompanied by a dish of chipotle aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise, and one of sweeter barbecue-flavored mayo. Both were tasty, but pretty much unnecessary with these terrific rings.
A sandwich labeled "The Daytona" piles up shredded chicken breast in a spicy, wing-like sauce on a brioche bun spread with thick ranch dressing, and tops the whole thing with crumbled blue cheese and a few more of those pickled red onion pieces. This adds up to a knife-and-fork sandwich unless you’re going to eat it in the bathtub, but never mind that. It’s a way-tasty piece of work, definitely for those looking for big flavor. The house-made potato chips are nice, although we’d probably opt out of the seasoning for them, which makes them taste sort of like barbecue chips. Those same flavor-seeking folks will be equally happy with the pork tenderloin. Like many of the entrees, there’s an option for a large or small portion, and hurray for that. We chose the smaller, and got four slices of tender, lean pork with a smoky-sweet sauce that carried some of heat. Equally pleasing is the spicy sweet potato gratin, a serving of paper-thin sweet potatoes layered, seasoned and baked. The seasoning seems to be chipotle, or smoked pepper, but there’s enough other contrast with the pork that there’s no problem, and the result is delicious. Even the roasted vegetables, which were green beans, slices of the smaller Asian eggplants, and zucchini, were notable, and when we find zucchini tasty, that’s a red letter day.
Alas, we couldn’t say the same for the tempura-battered fish and chips, the fish being overcooked and greasy and the french fries, even though they were housemade, subpar and soggy. The Monte Cristo sandwich, a traditional dish which is basically a ham and cheese sandwich that’s French toasted and served with a tart jelly alongside, is a little different at Triumph. The ham is honey-baked, the kitchen adds turkey, spreads currant jelly on the sandwich and trims the crusts before dipping it in egg batter and frying. The result is far too sweet for a dish that’s supposed to be savory with sweet notes added only by the optional jelly, and the loss of texture contrast because of the missing crusts is an added downer. And then there were more of those fries....
All the desserts are mini-sized. Instead of a dessert tray, the server brings a rack of six wine glasses, describes the ingredients and serves one, or many, right from the rack. We’ve tried the pumpkin cheesecake, which suffered only from a too-thick layer of crumbs on top, throwing off the ratio of cheesecake-to-crumbs for the first couple of bites, and a delicious bread pudding studded with dried cranberries and toffee chips. Its texture was darn near perfect except that the top bit of bread had been missed by the custard and was quite dry. The cheesecake itself was cinnamon-y and lush.
The portion- (and budget-) conscious menu also offers two sizes of pours on the 14 wines by the glass, a good variety from Italy, Australia, the U.S. and other sites. We worked from Argentina, with a lush Big Tattoo Red in honor of the father of the importer, a marvelous host on a trip to that wine country some years ago, and a pair from the Elsa Winery, a tasty, French-style unoaked Chardonnay that was crisp and bright, and a Malbec that was velvety and with a charming structure.
In addition, Triumph also brings down prices with a series of weeknight specials on food and wine. With some judicious ordering, this place can be a winner, whether the race is contested by motorcycles or forks.
3419 Olive St.
Lunch Mon.-Sat., Dinner nightly
Credit cards: All major
Wheelchair access: Good