Getting Salty with Esther Tetreault of Trillium Brewing Co.
Esther Tetreault has the perfect job: She makes beer with her husband, JC. The pair run Trillium Brewing Co., with a retail counter in Fort Point, a taproom in Canton, a seasonal garden on the Greenway, and a farm and brewery in North Stonington, Conn. This fall, the pair will open a restaurant at 50 Thomson Place, not far from their Fort Point flagship. They’ll serve regional New England foods, including Tetreault’s favorite dishes: polenta and grits.
What’s the first restaurant you ever ate at in Boston? Vinny Testa’s. We’d go in college for the “buy one, get one free [deal].” Seriously, my roommate and I went there for that special. Our lives revolved around the garlic focaccia bread.
What’s one thing you’d like to fix about the restaurant industry here? I wish there was more equality across the board — more women, and that we’d equalize the pay gap between back and front of the house.
How has the restaurant landscape changed since you arrived in Boston? I think there’s a greater density, which has made the exceptional places stand out.
What other restaurants do you visit? We don’t get out much these days! We have young kids. We stay close to home: We go to Moody’s in Waltham and Dumpling Daughter in Weston. We live in the ’burbs.
What’s your earliest food memory that made you think: I want to work in restaurants? Prior to having kids, we used to entertain a lot. When JC was home-brewing, we would share his beer, in our kitchen, with food that we made together, having friends enjoy that. Those moments sitting around, eating together, talking, made us want to do that on a bigger scale.
What’s the worst restaurant experience you’ve ever had? Ugh! The worst I ever had was after a long day at the brewery in Fort Point. We tried to meet friends for dinner, starving. We tried three places that were packed with an hour wait. We found a spot that wasn’t busy. We waited 20 minutes without ever being acknowledged. I was next-level hangry. Nobody looked at us until we were about to get up to leave.
How could Boston become a better food city? It’s better than it has ever been: I think there are more options, so many exceptional places in a wide variety of styles. It’s more reflective of the city.
Name three adjectives for Boston diners. Thirsty, casual, loyal.
What’s the most overdone trend right now? Is it wrong to say smoothies and juice bars? I don’t know who drinks that much juice! They’re everywhere.
What are you reading? One business book and one beach read: “Positively Outrageous Service” is a hospitality-driven book. And I’m rereading “Harry Potter” with my 8-year-old son so we can talk about it. My son has read the entire series a thousand times!
How’s your commute? Our commute is so much better since we moved to the suburbs. I can get to Fort Point in 20 minutes and to Canton in less than 30, as opposed to 45 minutes when we lived in Brookline.
What’s the one food you never want to eat again? Eel! I keep wanting to like it, but I just don’t. I am officially giving it up right now. On the record. Never want to eat it again!
What kind of restaurant is Boston missing right now? I could use more ramen. I’m obsessed with ramen. I wish there were ramen on every block. A ramen place opened in Brookline after we left!
What’s your most missed Boston restaurant? Hungry Mother in Cambridge. JC still talks about their beef tongue sliders all the time.
Who was your most memorable customer? I can’t get this one experience out of my mind. Shortly after our first anniversary, we got an e-mail from a customer who was a huge Trillium fan. His family bonded around craft beer, and they all loved Trillium and had made the trip up for our anniversary beer. It had become a connection for his family. Unfortunately, they had experienced a tragedy, and he wanted to share with us how special Trillium was for them. That was the moment for JC and me, to see we created something that impacted people’s lives outside our walls and our tiny t
eam. It was a striking moment for us. We connected with him and his family, and as a matter of fact, he works for us now as part of our management team.
If you had to eat your last meal in Boston, what would it be? Ramen, obviously, with my family! JC is one of the most amazing cooks I know. I want him to make me ramen at home with my kids.