Trio has a spicy new venture in Fairmount

The chefs be­hind Fair­mount's be­loved Trio are open­ing a Mexi-Cali BY­OB right down the street, heed­ing a long-run­ning de­mand in the neigh­bor­hood for some south of the bor­der flare.

Trio co-own­er Mi­chael Poole in­side of his new ven­ture Isa­bel, a BYO Mex­ic­an res­taur­ant which he’s aim­ing to have open in the next few weeks.

If you’re one of the many Fair­mount res­id­ents who can’t get enough of the cre­at­ive menu, wel­com­ing at­mo­sphere and friendly ser­vice at Trio, you’re in luck.

Res­taur­at­eurs Mi­chael Poole and Van Chau — the mas­ter­minds be­hind the in­nov­at­ive Thai BY­OB at 2624 Brown St. — are tak­ing an­oth­er shot at din­ing glory and open­ing a second res­taur­ant in the neigh­bor­hood.

The new res­taur­ant, a Mexi-Cali BY­OB called Isa­bel, serves up a dif­fer­ent cuisine but prom­ises the same ori­gin­al­ity and fresh­er-than-fresh fare that loc­als would ex­pect from the own­ers of Trio.

“It’s go­ing to be sim­il­ar to what we do at Trio,” said Poole, 40, who fell in love with Fair­mount when he lived in the neigh­bor­hood while at­tend­ing St. Joseph’s Uni­versity. “There, it’s heav­ily in­flu­enced Thai food, but … we like to do dif­fer­ent things.”

“At Isa­bel, we’ll serve heav­ily in­flu­enced Mex­ic­an food, but we call it Mexi-Cali so it’s not so strict that we can’t veer out­side the lines,” he con­tin­ued.

Isa­bel, which is set to open its doors in mid-Septem­ber at 2601 Pennsylvania Ave., will seat 30 in­doors in an in­tim­ate set­ting, while of­fer­ing breath­tak­ing views from a side­walk din­ing area.

“The out­door seat­ing is what really sold me on [the loc­a­tion],” Poole said. “You have the Art Mu­seum up to your right, and the Cen­ter City sky­line is off to the left. It’s a beau­ti­ful space.”

But Isa­bel — named after Poole’s niece and Chau’s old­est daugh­ter — isn’t all about am­bi­ance. Poole is bring­ing his cre­ativ­ity in the kit­chen to the next level by tak­ing on the head chef po­s­i­tion at the new res­taur­ant him­self.

“I al­ways thought that if we did an­oth­er res­taur­ant, I wanted to be in the kit­chen, make the de­cisions and set the stand­ard for qual­ity,” Poole said.

Diners can ex­pect ima­gin­at­ive menu choices like duck con­fit burri­tos, house-made cho­ri­zo and roas­ted to­matillo and cil­antro salsa.

Though Mex­ic­an cuisine may seem out of left field for res­taur­at­eurs fam­ous for their Thai food, Poole and Chau heard the call of hungry Fair­mount diners who they said were starving for a south-of-the-bor­der sen­sa­tion.

“It just made sense,” Poole said of the Mexi-Cali concept. “If you read any of the on­line neigh­bor­hood for­ums, this neigh­bor­hood has been cry­ing for Mex­ic­an food for a long time. It’s al­ways been in the back of our heads.”

The dy­nam­ic duo — who have be­come close friends with neigh­bors and reg­u­lar cus­tom­ers at Trio, a mere block away from the new res­taur­ant — was thrilled to keep their new­est ven­ture in the Fair­mount area.

“We’re really in­volved with the neigh­bor­hood in Fair­mount,” Poole said. “We think that, as a res­taur­ant, the neigh­bor­hood sup­ports you, and you sup­port the neigh­bor­hood.”••

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