BLOOMINGTON, Indiana - May sound strange but my favorite food at the Trojan Horse Restaurant & Tavern is the B’town BBQ. In a landmark restaurant known for its Greek food, you might think diners would hardly give a thought to BBQ. Must admit that I ignored the sandwich when it was first added to the menu about three years ago.
But after one try, I am a solid fan. About the size of a slider, the B’town BBQ is filled with top cuts of pork, rubbed, slow cooked and sauced to perfection. Served on a soft yellow egg bun, the sandwich priced at $2.75 is an appetizer for some but I like it as a meal.
I first ate at the Trojan Horse before I moved to Bloomington in 1992. On the downtown square with its open kitchen window, the restaurant is a hard-to-miss favorite. Folks had told me about the popular place when I came to town for a job interview so that’s where I ate.
Curious about its history, I chatted with Trojan Horse general manager Greg Marshall. Greg has been with the eatery since 1981 so he certainly knows what makes the Horse a winner.
Seems owner Denny Stalter had another downtown business known as Zeus’ Gyros. “There were no Greek restaurants in town at that time,” Greg says. “But Zeus’ Gyros burned down in March of 1978.”
Gyro lovers were happy when Stalter opened the Trojan Horse in October of 1978 at the corner of Kirkwood and Walnut where it is still located. “Street vendors in Greece would have an open window where you could see the lamb cooking on a vertical spit,” Greg says. “That’s why we have the window so you can see it cooking.”
Over the years, the Trojan Horse has perfected recipes that diners have come to crave. The restaurant's Greek specialties are the best sellers, with the gyros at the top. The falafel was once touted by Bon Appétit magazine as being the best sandwich of its kind in the country.
On this visit, I started with a Greek sampler – hummus, cheesepa’rer (spinach and feta cheese spread) and tabouleh served with two quartered warm pitas. I don’t know why but the Trojan Horse pitas always taste better than I get elsewhere. Entrée was one Pasko’s Skewer, a marinated steak kabob with peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes on a bed of rice with the Horse’s own chimichurri sauce on the side.
For dessert, of course, it was baklava a la mode with baklava ice cream. Double heaven! “White Mountain Ice Cream used to make our baklava ice cream,” Brad says. “But we bought the machine and now we make it here.”
In fact, Trojan Horse makes most of its pastries and other items on the premises. The menu also offers plenty of America fare, including burgers, fries, onion rings, chicken and fish, plus a vegan burger. My daughter’s favorite is the tenderloin sandwich– a huge two-fisted handmade breaded pork loin, deep-fried and served on a bun.
The Horse also serves beer, wine and mixed drinks and has an upstairs bar. That’s my favorite place to dine. Not because of the bar but because I like to sit by the big aquarium and watch the playful fish doing their graceful acrobatics.
The décor is dark woods, booths and Indiana University memorabilia. The secret to its long lasting success is easy, Greg says. “The Trojan Horse offers good food, good quality and good service. That is what we do and have always done.”
For more information: Check out the Trojan Horse website at www.thetrojanhorse.com