Destination Dining: Topo’s 403
Upscale Mediterranean is just a short drive to Bloomington.
Stephanie Topolgus, managing and creative director of the luxurious road-trip–worthy Topo’s 403 (403 N. Walnut St., Bloomington, 812-340-7453) tells us that the restaurant debuted a new winter menu last week. New offerings include chickpea and pumpkin fritters, Gunthorp Farms Greek-style chicken wings, fritto misto, a traditional Moussaka, pan-roasted Red Snapper, and skewered sea scallops. Vegetarians can tuck into a new briama featuring roasted and grilled vegetables.
The menu plays coy at Topo’s 403, Bloomington’s elegant-edgy riff on Mediterranean food. An entree billed as spanakopita rainbow trout arrives not in the expected brick of phyllo but as a piece of iridescent-skinned fish, filleted and stuffed with spinach and cheese. You taste the same strata of crisp, salty flavors—the sweet nuttiness of the fish layered with the savory greens, on a bed of bulgur salad brightened with lemon-caper vinaigrette. But this is the big fat Greek restaurant standard deconstructed. Here, authenticity is overrated.
We were smitten the moment we walked through the door of Bloomington newcomer Topo’s 403 (403 N. Walnut St., 812-676-8676). The grand entry of this restored 1870s townhouse has the kind of amber, Art Deco glow that could put Instagram out of business, for starters. Then there is the high clustered chandelier illuminating deep-blue wallpaper festooned with stylized jellyfish and the whitewashed spindles of the stairway, and the hallway that opens onto high-ceilinged dining rooms with white tablecloths, tall windows, and refurbished fireplace mantels. It’s an elegant entry point for a restaurant that seems to have put just as much meticulous thought into its Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Dave Tallent, of Bloomington’s Restaurant Tallent fame, helped craft the menu, which takes some creative liberties with Greek favorites such as spanakopita (done inside a filleted rainbow trout) and skewered meat (pork souvlaki plated with plump, creamy gigante beans). Even the little gratis dish of house-marinated olives—tender and oily—are herb-flecked gems.
Bloomington Greek restaurant Topo’s 403 (403 N. Walnut St.) is set to open during the first week of August. Chef de cuisine Jason Shoulders will head the menu, himself a former member of the culinary team at Oakleys Bistro and sous chef at Restaurant Tallent (which is owned by Topo’s consulting executive chef, David Tallent). Right now, the staff is busy getting table tops and flatware and finalizing the menu.
The building has been in the Topolgus family since 1947 and is part of the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures. David Tallent of Bloomington’s Restaurant Tallent will serve as consulting executive chef and will help develop the menu, hire staff, and oversee the food.