Foodscene: The end of an era
Living in south-central Indiana is an "interesting" experience. To say the least. However, there are some good restaurants in Bloomington. My favorite steakhouse there, and, until this news, anywhere, was Janko's Little Zagreb.
No, it was never much for flashy, bourgeois decorations. In fact, if you wanted anything of that sort, you were well-advised to stay far away from the place. It wasn't on the "wrong side" of the tracks, but you could see that side from the front door there. It was unpretentious, cheek-to-jowl, and everything that good restaurants used to be. Everyone knew about it, but it still had the feel that it was a great, freshly discovered, secret.
The steaks were unlike anything I've ever had anywhere else. They had a garlic flavor to them that was hard to place. They were seared, so all bites had a satisfying snap to them, and some were crunchy - in a good way. While I have not had a steak that was unredeemably bad, neither have I had a steak that was as complex and interesting as these simple slabs of meat, cooked in the open for all to see.
Then the owner, John "Janko" Pouch died in a tragic fire. Despite the protestations from the staff, I got the sense that it wouldn't be the same. I haven't been there since, but my family has. The great little secret is now, while chipper on the outside, not so great. Once is an anomaly, and two is a trend. Steaks were sent back by people who can put a good spin on any beef. Disappointment was the order of the day.
Indiana, though, has several really excellent steakhouses besides, including the legendary St. Elmo in Indianapolis and The Beef House in Covington. But this one was special. It will be missed, as well as have thoughts expressed for it for a recovery from this slump.