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Thursday, November 27, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

Restaurant review: Trotters Tavern ****

At the Museum Tavern, located across the road from the British Museum in London, I had my first taste of Scotch eggs, a staple of British pub food. It's an addictive appetizer, with sausage and bread crumbs wrapped around the outside of a hard-boiled egg.

At Cass Olwan's late, lamented Town Club in downtown Toledo, one of my favorite dishes was Kentucky Hot Brown, a delicious combination of turkey, crisp bacon, and tomatoes covered in rich mornay sauce and crowned with a peach half.

Many years have passed since then. So imagine my surprise when I walked into Trotters Tavern on Heatherdowns Boulevard and found both items on the menu. What serendipity! I ordered them both, and they measured up superbly with my memories, even if the hot brown was missing the Town Club's glistening peach.

These were two of a dozen or more dishes on Trotters' menu that I bet you can't find anywhere else in the city.

For starters, on the appetizer list are such unusual items as a full pound of Prince Edward Island mussels; sweet peppadew peppers with French olives, pepperoni, and cheese; brioscia rustica, skewers of tomatoes, rosemary, basil, mozzarella, and ciabatta bread; soprano bocconicinis (garlic rolls), and macaroni and cheese formed into deep-fried triangles.

Among the sandwiches, look for the BLT with brawny Danish bacon and sweetish "duke mayo" from Greenville, S.C.; Havana robusto, a Cuban-flavored sandwich stacked with pork loin, turkey, and ham, and the piece de resistance, Dearborn ham roast with the thickest, tenderest ham this side of Michigan.

The awning out front displays the restaurant's official name: "J. Brown's Original Trotters Tavern." John Brown first established Trotters in Bowling Green but sold it about 10 years ago and moved to Toledo. The BG Trotters, owned by the Contris family, still operates, and its menu is somewhat similar.

The Toledo Trotters is a very big place, decorated with more than 100 beer signs. Customers belly up to the bar, sit at tables and booths lined against the windows, or head out to the patio to drink and dine.

In addition to the scotch eggs ($7.95) and original hot brown ($11.95), which takes its name from the venerable Brown Hotel in Louisville, the dishes all seem to have a distinguishing quality. A good example is the P-N-P ($7.75), a monster of a pastrami and swiss cheese sandwich that includes cole slaw and skin-on French fries inside the bun. This makes eating it without spilling it problematic, and the huge, doughy pretzel bun tends to overpower the taste buds.

Then there's the tavern's signature dinner entre, the Brown Jug sirloin ($17.95) with a "capacious" steak sauce. Without the sauce, the thick cut would be delectable indeed; with the sauce, which reeks of worcestershire that overflows the small skillet it's served in, I could barely get it down.

The $11.95 opa kotta, on the other hand, was terrific - a marinated chicken breast with melted feta cheese on a Greek salad. I also unequivocally recommend the Lake Erie perch sandwich ($8.99) with four big pieces of fish; the thick Danish BLT ($7.95), and especially the Dearborn ham roast ($7.95), as fine a sandwich as I've had.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com



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