Even if you've been told how to find Don's Trilby Tavern on Secor Road, it's easy to miss the small yellow sign and the narrow red-frame front, half hidden between wide-spreading commercial properties on either side. But Trilby Tavern steaks are locally famous, drawing regular customers and newcomers alike.
Inside, beyond a deck shielded from the dusty parking area in back by a head-high palisade fence, the tavern is done up in what arty folks might call faux rustic, warm wood-brown paneling, and brick-look-alike dividers.
Besides the kitchen in one corner and a fair-sized bar in another, the interior space is divided into small, intimate dining areas. The lighting is gentle, with just a few garish neon beer signs and two televisions, over the bar. There is, however, a sound system usually tuned intrusively high.
Aside from a modest list of appetizers, sides, and buckets of jumbo shrimp and perch, the left-hand page of the menu is devoted to eight steak entrees, all Angus beef, from a 20-ounce porterhouse ($21.95) to 10 ounces of chopped steak ($9.95). There is also a surf-and-turf dinner: a six-ounce ribeye steak, two jumbo shrimp, and two pieces of fresh-battered perch.
Some inviting enhancements, all at extra cost, are appended to the list of steak entrees: fresh-minced garlic in butter, grilled onions or mushrooms, and, for a make-your- own surf-and-turf, three jumbo shrimp.
Beneath the half-pound grilled burger that heads the sandwich list on the facing page, a line advises the fastidious that the beef is fresh, never frozen. If taste and color are reliable indicators, the same is true of the steaks. On two occasions mine were tender, a fresh-looking pale gray, slightly browned, and succulent. I must add, though, that both were a sturdy medium, quite beyond the medium rare asked. And that reminds me to report that french fries, fresh-cut, a more-than-generous heaping on the plate, were sadly limp.
Sharing honors with beef on the dinner menu are a half-dozen breast of chicken suggestions, skinless and boneless, grilled with garlic, teriyaki, Caribbean, or barbecue sauce, and “smothered” in onions, mushrooms, and cheese, as well as one with crab meat stuffing. I enjoyed the simplest, with the garlic seasoning, but I regretted having overlooked, because of the menu layout, a house specialty: St. Louis style smoked ribs.
Coarse-cut salad greens came crunchy-fresh and refreshing. I mixed together blue cheese and french dressings, and though the sauces may not be original to this kitchen, they are at least well chosen.
Unless you have steak firmly in mind, don't skip lightly over the daily specials, which the server will happily describe. They are alternatives to what is in reality a short, fairly basic menu. Another surprise is a nicely varied wine list offering several choices by both the glass and the bottle.
A blacktop drive on the north side of the building runs alongside the restaurant to the parking area in the rear. Slow down and start looking closely as you drive south on Secor Road past the Brondes auto showroom and lots.