Gallery: Trelio [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
by Amy Guerra
It’s a Thursday evening, just an hour or so after Trelio has opened the doors to its small, intimate dining room. The bright white tablecloths, tiny glass tea lights and black and white food photographs that flank the naturally-lit dining room say a lot about the restaurant.
Food here is a craft, a masterpiece, the pièce de résistance.
Chef Michael Shackelford is bold, and while his seasonal menus have all the underpinnings of a restaurant designed to cater to the most sophisticated tastes, the menu is also a composition for the more adventurous palette. Tonight, my eyes lingered on a single word: Charcuterie. Honestly, until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t familiar with the word, which essentially amounts to an exhibition of meat knowledge, a demonstration of preservation prowess. Whatever you call it, the trending gourmet art of charcuterie --cooking focused on the preparation of meat products -- has arrived in Fresno, and I knew that my husband and I would have been fools not to experience Shackelford’s playful version.
“We roll it and dry it for six days,” Shackelford says, pointing to the Wild Boar Ventrèche. Like the more traditional version of pancetta, the salty, buttery meat is made all the more unique by the sweetness of the boar, which, paired with Trelio’s house-made mustard and pickled beech mushrooms, results in the perfect mesh of flavors. The rest of the platter is similarly impressive: Duck Liver Torchon with Pickled Mustard Seeds and Port Reduction, Antelope Pâté de Campagne with Truffle Cream and Fried Shallots, as well as a selection of three cheeses with Shackelford’s mango chutney, heirloom tomato jam and preserved kumquat.
Of course, this is only the first course, and Shackelford’s carefully selected menu keeps a consistent pace throughout the entire meal. There are heirloom tomatoes and burrata (fresh Italian cheese) drizzled in Enzo olive oil and balsamic reduction and paired with micro greens and fennel pollen. My husband orders the more traditional Roasted Berkshire Pork Chop, largely because a sidecar of Truffled Bacon Macaroni and Cheese is too much for any lover of comfort food to resist. Paired with sautéed spinach, the perfectly cooked pork chop is moist and flavorful and, again, the contrast between Shackelford’s traditional and creative sides collides to produce a masterful creation. I opt for the Grilled Tiger Prawns with White Beans and Chorizo with Kale. The latter is expertly prepared and teamed with a cilantro corn puree that brings together spicy, mellow, sweet and savory flavors.
Around us, the sounds of other diners enjoying the brilliance of Shackelford’s audacious menu are evident. Trelio’s patrons have taken nearly every table in the restaurant. Despite Billie Holiday’s raspy, slow voice singing in the background, the atmosphere is kinetic, alive with the buzz of conversation around food and wine, charcuterie, pâté and all things deliciously local that Trelio and Chef Shakelford seem to so effortlessly present.
It doesn’t take long for our server to convince us that two desserts, rather than one, are in order. It is more difficult to pin him down to a recommendation because, presumably, when you work at Trelio, there are no bad choices. At least, that’s what we discover when he brings out the Peach Brioche Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Ice Cream and the Flourless Salted Caramel-Peanut Torte with Raspberry Compote. The nutty brown butter flavor of the brown butter ice cream showcases the sweet peach tones of the bread pudding, while the slight crunch of the baked pudding highlights the creaminess of the homemade ice cream.
Although there’s no English word that I’m aware of to describe the perfect combination of sweet and salty, I do believe that Trelio’s Flourless Salted Caramel-Peanut Torte may be tangible evidence of such a thing. Caramel, peanuts and chocolate--different layers of sweet and salty flavors--married in each bite.
From beginning to end, Chef Michael Shackelford’s Trelio menu serves entrees teaming with local culture. He and his team’s passion for food and the Central Valley are evident in every menu and in every dish. There’s a boldness, a playfulness, a vision, and innovation within the walls of Trelio. It’s the type of place where you want to linger for the food, the wine and the atmosphere. It’s the kind of place you want to tell people about but simultaneously want to hold close like a secret, convinced that when everyone else knows how great it is, you won’t be able to get a reservation. Trelio is amazing, but it’s our secret, not mine--a restaurant that emanates the greatest things about where we all live, a true Central Valley gem.
Trelio is located in Old Town Clovis at 438 Clovis Ave. #4. For more information, or to make reservations, visit them online at treliorestaurant.com or contact them by phone at (559) 297-0783.
Amy Guerra is a criminal defense attorney practicing in Fresno. She has written for several publications throughout California and enjoys writing about the law, food, travel and all things Fresno.