Restaurant Reviews

Trust & Co. in Coral Gables Delivers With Creative American Flair

The duck breast entrée at Daniel Humm's Eleven Madison Park was an eye-opener for Pablo Zitzmann. The 28-year-old chef says he left the critically acclaimed Manhattan restaurant with a renewed sense of possibility. So when Zitzmann was offered the opportunity to run his own kitchen two years later, re-creating the flavor profile of the pivotal duck dish became a priority.

When you order the bird at Trust & Co., a new eatery in Coral Gables, the breast arrives sprinkled with fennel and coriander seeds and placed atop turnip purée. Mint leaves, pomegranate seeds, slivers of serrano ham, and both roasted and shaved turnips complete the meticulously plated main. The sweet notes of the duck's honey glaze pair well with the crunchy pomegranate seeds, while the silky purée adds another welcome element. It's commendable to see a young toque take risks in the kitchen, but the duck is a tad overcooked. Zitzmann's favorite dish isn't flawless just yet.

Zitzmann says he has never been so excited about salads — and he has reason to be.

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The Colombian-born chef's previous gig was at Jean-George Vongerichten's Matador Room, where he worked under recent Top Chef champion Jeremy Ford. Zitzmann has nothing but praise for Ford's talent and character and considers him a mentor. That said, when longtime buddy and restaurateur Jerry Flynn approached him about opening Trust & Co., he immediately accepted the challenge.

Flynn met Zitzmann while the chef was working the line at Batch Gastropub, the Brickell eatery Flynn co-created but is no longer affiliated with. Instead, the owner is concentrating on making Trust & Co. the neighborhood's go-to destination for craft cocktails and what he refers to as "New World American cuisine." He was attracted to Coral Gables because of the area's diverse business and residential population.

The restaurant's name pays tribute to the trust and integrity of the early 20th Century. And with that, Trust & Co. promises to employ the best possible local ingredients without cutting corners. Consequently, the menu will change seasonally, and when the chef and his team can't find products that meet their standards, Zitzmann says, they'll make it themselves.

For instance, the burrata is made onsite by filling mozzarella curd with stracciatella cheese that's been infused with heavy cream and homemade ricotta. It's then served with toasted Zak the Baker sourdough, along with the requisite balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and coarse black pepper. There's also a side of mixed local greens, whose slight bitterness helps downplay the richness of the delectable burrata.

Zitzmann also cultures his own yogurt, a skill he acquired from Ford. He uses it for the flatbread and for an appetizer starring Swank Farms heirloom baby carrots that have been seasoned with vadouvan, a French spice blend similar to Indian masala. The carrots are prepared sous vide prior to being roasted on a charcoal grill. The accompanying yogurt is a smart way of jazzing up a vegetable-centric dish; however, the carrots on a recent visit should have been cooked longer.

A better bet is the grilled peach and beet salad festooned with farm greens and crisp quinoa. The peaches are perfectly ripe, but what truly elevates this starter are the three kinds of beet used — red, golden, and candy-stripe — along with the assertive vinegar made from the grapes of a family-owned vineyard in Niagara Falls, Canada. Zitzmann says he has never been so excited about salads — and he has reason to be: Those offered at Trust exemplify the kitchen's creative efforts.

On the heavier side, Trust's burger is a blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib that's coated in its own fat drippings for some extra oomph. What's more, the patty is glazed with a marmalade made by cooking down onions, whiskey, sugar, butter, rosemary, and thyme. Bibb lettuce, Florida heirloom tomatoes, and a brioche bun from La Provence bakery provide the finishing touches. The burger is amazing. The accompanying thick, crisp fries are great too.

One of the most popular items at Trust is the roasted half chicken featuring both light and dark meat. The bird is brined for an entire day in a combination of basil, lemon, lime, water, vinegar, and salt before it's left to air-dry for 12 hours. It's cooked to order and plated with roasted butternut squash purée, broccoli rabe, panko breadcrumbs, cinnamon allspice, and garlic. Although there's nothing cutting-edge about this entrée, there's much to be said for chicken that's moist on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside. And though the cinnamon is somewhat distracting, the dish is still a winner.

At Trust, there's a disconnect between the inspired, chef-driven cuisine and the large, uninspired space. Much attention has clearly been paid to the fare and the service, but the interior isn't particularly inviting. Think college bar versus cozy corner bistro. Grab a seat outside and enjoy the scenes of Aragon Avenue and Merrick Way. Out there, you can really appreciate the food. It's not perfect, but it's certainly worthy of our trust that the kitchen will continue to improve and produce dishes worth trying.

Trust & Co.
2 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 305-444-7433; Dinner Monday through Friday 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m. to midnight; lunch Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; brunch Saturday and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Duck breast, $28
  • Burrata, $15
  • Swank heirloom baby carrots, $12
  • Grilled peach and beet salad, $15
  • Trust burger, $17
  • Roasted half chicken, $27

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.