13th & Sansom Streets

The second thing you notice about this bumptious, blasphemous and balmy former bank is row upon row of upside-down long incandescent orange-red lava lamps hanging from the ceiling. The hand-blown luminaries throw glowing accolades onto pale and/or dark patrons' skins, making everyone seem ardently amber.

The first thing you notice is that the cement pavement blocks, along 13th and Sansom Streets outside, are pock-marked with crepuscular Crayola-colored bulbs embedded from below. You begin to smile immediately; and then, upon entrance, can't help but chuckle upon sighting the second thing.

Now, go to the bathroom whether you have to go to the bathroom or not. Meander toward the silvery stainless steel ocean liner wide steps, and tubular arm rail leading downward into an underground faux pool. Hold the rail and take the steps. Immersed finally in the deep end, you feel as startled as if you were Casey Jones in a unisex locker. Here, men and women are intermittently entwined, underwater, washing up swimmingly. You begin to blink to clear your mentally-fogged goggles, slowly and embarrassedly backing up the steps, ogling and laughing. This can't be true: all sexes in the same bathroom? For you to sea.

A huge circular bar dominates the eating areas. This tappy portion accommodates neighborhood blokes of all ages, vestments, colors and sizes. To be clear, this watering hole is an invitation to diversity and camaraderie. The dozen and a half beers on tap are a testament to the differential in tastes; and the vaulted variety of martinis, a signal of the pervasive playfulness among preferences. There are also special "electronic cocktails" that literally put your lights out. They are grandly iced concoctions of apricot and vanilla vodkas with unusual strength, into which have been placed a glowing lighted ice cube. The frigorific light lasts for nine hours, or as long as you do, whichever comes thirst.

I head past a smoking area to the bar's right. This mini-lounge's "furniture" resembles what high school kids used in the '50's to decorate and section off the Marlboro-Newport addicts from the rest of the school lunch hall. A chain-link hospital curtain divides the smokers' cafeteria from the main dining room.

Select non-smoking seating along the far wall enhanced by banquettes, whose cushiony fabric absorbs at least some of the dominating late night decibels. Earlier dining is quieter.

Tables are square and cherry wood. Behind, are wooden slats in the shape of planters' shutters. The settings are pre-prepared with white plates, wine/water glasses, utensils resting on napkins, one full olive oil bottle with a whiskey pourer atop, and basket weave placemats emulating a ceiling affectation above.

As hearty breads arrive, your feet tap upon a terrazzo floor, anticipating more surprises. And they are many.

Imagine pan-Mediterranean dim sum, erumpent in the form of Tapas at $3 per plate. You become the Trustee of hewed miniature servings, four or five of which, with the breads or pita, can make a meal. Smokey chick pea hummus, Goat cheese and green olive truffles, Grilled octopus, Cigares (fired Moroccan meat-stuffed pastries), Clam and chorizo salad, Lamb and pine nut meatballs, Truffled French fries, Moorish kebabs and Spicy almonds are favorites.

The hummus is bold with a sweet aftertaste, truckling to your throat's insistence to swallow. Cigares meander crisply with pastry flakes and chopped meat from left jaw to right jaw, and back again in toothsome delight.

Baby Haitian claims dance in a shared salad platterette with chopped chorizo. The former are de minimis delectations which fit on no more than two prongs of a fork. The latter supplement with garlic exponents. They dissolve upon your tongue in a flexuous flash.

The kebabs and meatballs should be eaten with the French fries, which are unlike any you've tasted before: cheese-churned spuds fried in truffle oil and dried to raddled crispy lengths. They complement both 'babs and 'balls, giving mouthfuls a spumescent froth about one's lips.

For appetizers, one may also opt for a Cheese platter (with roasted dates and orange harissa compote) ($14.50), Flatbreads with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or rosemary parmegiano ($5) and Salads or Pizzas, none of which exceeds $8.

I will not describe such entrées as the Rabbit and Wild Mushroom Ragout with pappardelle noodles ($14), or the Lobster Cannelloni with orange-scented pumpkin puree and shaved funnel salad ($17), or the Moroccan-spiced Roasted Salmon with warm lentil salad and citrus sherry vinaigrette ($13), or the Hamburger Abroad with Mozzarella, Gorgonzola or Manchego cheese and Parmegiano-truffle French fries ($9), except to say that their redolence is dauntless and precedes them by twenty meters.

What's most invigorating about Trust is its olfactory triumphs. There exist intense smelling barbicons over which a diner gratefully passes. If you close your eyes as the food is served, your nose tells you that you're on a Greek Island Cruise, or at a café in Fez, a luncheonette in Istanbul, a farmhouse kitchen in Sicily. And as any good lawyer has learned over the years, follow your nose.


Copyright 2004 Richard Max Bockol, Esq. Back