Every year, one of our local TV stations hosts an “A-list” competition, with quite a number of different categories. This year, one of the categories is the Hoosier Pork Tenderloin Showdown!
Looking at the list of tenderloins that are in the running, I see that 2 absolutely stellar tenderloins are on the list….the Gaslight Inn and the Aristocrat. I was disappointed to see some of the best tenderloins in the state didn’t even make the cut.
I was even MORE disappointed to see that a couple of pre processed fritters made the cut…the Mug n Bun and Nick’s Kitchen.
Nevertheless, you should go check it out…and vote! You can do it here….
Those of you who know me personally know that I’m a HUGE fan of the Andy Griffith Show. My office has Andy Griffith art on the walls, I watch the show nearly every day, and can talk right along with the dialogue.
We’re fortunate to have The Mayberry Café about 45 minutes away from home, in the town of Danville, Indiana. Holly had a music gig in Danville, and it gave us the perfect chance to visit The Mayberry Café for dinner.
Of course, the place is Mayberry themed, complete with a Mayberry squad car parked outside. The walls are lined with photos and posters of The Andy Griffith Show, and multiple TVs show episodes of the show while they’re open.
The service is very friendly and down home, and, to us, it seemed very genuine. It appeared the servers truly enjoyed their job, and did a fine job of interacting with the customers without being intrusive.
The menu features what I call “down home” cooking…meatloaf, fried chicken, and so on. There also are several burgers on the menu, as well as a few Italian dishes…perhaps in homage to the “Dinner at 8″ episode.
I saw the breaded tenderloin on the menu, and asked the server, “Is it a REAL breaded tenderloin, or a fritter”, and she replied “We get that question a lot, and it IS a real tenderloin”.
Well, that was enough for me. I ordered it…and I’m glad I did.
The taste and texture were fantastic. Fresh pork, and the breading is wonderful. Nice and crispy, and it stayed crisp throughout the life of the sandwich. I ordered my sandwich, as always, with ketchup, mayo, and onion, and they didn’t skimp on the onion, a big plus in my book. The bun was nicely toasted, although there was nothing special about the bun itself.
The ONLY downside to this sandwich is that it was pounded out just a bit thinner than my preference. The taste and texture were perfect, only it being just a bit too thin for my personal taste kept it from being a 5 out of 5. I’m going to give it a 4.5…VERY good, and well worth the drive.
Holly chose Aunt Bea’s fried chicken. She was surprised to learn that the chicken was *not* bone-in! Not a minus, just not expected. The breading was wonderful and although it was all white meat, it was tender and juicy. Home-style mashed potatoes and gravy with green beans were her sides – both reported to be comfort food at its finest.
The Mayberry Cafe is located at 78 W Main Street in Danville, Indiana. I was unable to locate a web page for them, but they do have a Facebook page.
We were headed towards Noblesville for a rehearsal, and were looking for a place to have a good, yet quick, meal. We spied Mudsock’s on the road, and decided to stop in there for a sandwich. Having never been there before, we were not quite sure what to expect, but were willing to give it a try.
Upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly hostess, and immediately seated. At dinner hour on a mid week night, there were a few customers in there, but not nearly as many as I anticipated.
The décor is pleasant…lots of dark wood, some TVs tuned to sports (thankfully, with the sound turned down so it was easy to carry on a conversation), and I was surprised by how spacious it was. This is a much larger restaurant than it appears on the outside. It’s divided into two separate areas, a family dining area, and a bar/lounge. It does appear to be all non-smoking.
Our waitress came and brought our menus and took our drink orders, and we were off to a good start.
Upon reading our menus, we both mentioned that it seemed a bit pricey for sandwiches and such. Still, if the food is outstanding, we don’t mind paying a bit more for it.
The menu is varied and interesting, with a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, and entrees. When I saw that they ordered a “beer battered, hand breaded tenderloin” I knew that was what I was going to order…even if it was $10.00 with chips.
We ordered our meals, and, as usual, I ordered my sandwich with ketchup, mayo, and onion only…and I always put emphasis on the “only”. I opted for the onion strings instead of the chips for a slight upcharge.
So we waited for our meals. And waited. And then we waited some more. So much for a quick meal! Finally our waitress came out and told us our onion strings didn’t “look right” so she told the kitchen to re-make them. (Holly had ordered the same side).
Finally our meals came, and I was disappointed to find my sandwich dressed with lettuce and tomato. As is my custom, I cut a corner off the tenderloin and tried it without the bun. The meat was good…probably a little above average, as was the breading.
The problem was…this is one GREASY sandwich. Not a little greasy…but dripping, leaving a puddle of grease on the plate greasy. The taste was pretty good…but I just can’t get over how greasy this sandwich was.
And it was the same with the onion strings. It looked like they hadn’t even been drained after taking them out of the deep fryer. Grease dripping off of them, leaving a puddle of grease on the plate. Yes, it was that greasy.
I’m torn on what to rate this sandwich…maybe they were having a bad night and I should cut them a break. But, this is the sandwich I was served, so this is the sandwich I have to rate. I’m going to give it a 2/5…below average. With the service issues, I’ll give the experience a 1/5….pretty poor.
For her meal, Holly ordered a Mudsocks Chicken Portabella Wrap. The menu says that it is “an herb-marinated grilled Portabella mushroom with roasted red peppers, grilled chicken, spicy garlic pesto sauce, fresh baby spinach, and Mozzarella cheese wrapped in a roasted red tomato tortilla.” If you’re into this sort of thing, it sounds pretty good, right? Holly indicated that it was a very disappointing wrap. According to her…it, too, was greasy. A greasy wrap! Disgusting! The most prominent flavor on the sandwich was the roasted red peppers, which were also overly oily, the spicy garlic pesto was neither spicy nor garlicky, and there was hardly any baby spinach or Mozzarella. And the marinated Portabella had no flavor whatsoever. And even though the waitress told us that she sent back the onion strings and had the kitchen make us fresh ones, Holly reports that hers came out barely warm. Her meal was a major letdown. No wonder she left the half of the wrap she didn’t eat in the fridge of the band rehearsal’s hostess and didn’t return to get it!
Mudsocks Grill is located at 14741 Hazel Dell Crossing in Noblesville, Indiana. You can find them online at http://www.mudsocksgrill.com
Being a food reviewer is always a gamble. You walk into a place that you think will be stellar experience, and you walk out disappointed, and sometimes think a place will be average, and you’ll walk out saying to yourself, “WOW”.
That’s what happened to us earlier this week. We had some business to attend to with the American Legion Post in Greenfield, so we decided to eat in the café, which is located in the same building as the Legion.
The Great American Grill is a small, home town diner, nicely decorated with photos and memorabilia of our veterans, with a TV tuned to a local channel in the corner. There’s a jukebox, and the place is absolutely squeaky clean. That was my first impression…just how nice, neat, and clean this place was.
When we arrived, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to get for dinner….frankly, my experience in places like this was that tenderloins are often premade, frozen fritters. But when I saw they offered their tenderloin in breaded OR grilled, (which is always a good sign) I decided to take a chance.
And, boy howdy, I am glad I did. Let me tell you, folks, this is one outstanding sandwich. As I learned later, it’s hand cut daily and hand breaded. This is a nice sized sandwich without being overwhelming. The meat is nice and thick (actually…it’s not uniform…due to the hand pounding and hand cut…and that’s a BIG plus for me) and it’s moist and tasty. The breading is simply fantastic! I neglected to ask what their breading consists of, but it’s among the best I’ve ever had. Nice and crunchy, but it’s not so thick as to detract from the taste and texture of the meat.
There’s nice attention to detail here, the sandwich was served EXACTLY as I ordered, which isn’t always the case. The service was attentive and friendly, and the price was right – sandwich and chips for $6.95. This sandwich is 5 out of 5 bites, no doubt about it.
For her meal, Holly chose the pulled pork bbq sandwich – also served with chips for $4.95. This is an ample sandwich. For the money, if you’re hungry, you can’t beat the price. She felt they kind of skimped on the chips, and the meat was absolutely swimming in sauce…not her preference, but again, for the bottom line value of this meal, it was a winner.
The American Legion is located at 275 Center Street in Greenfield, Indiana. The entire building is non-smoking, and the café is open from 11AM-7PM, Monday through Saturday.
Recently, the Tenderloin Connoisseur put a call out to his friends to visit one of their local restaurants and try its version of a tenderloin and report back. I meant to take up this challenge earlier, but other events in our life seemed to get in the way. However, this past week my wife, Wendi, and I decided to have an evening out and visited The Mill House in Jasper, IN.
The Carey Tavern is a place we must have driven by dozens of times, but never at meal time. We did have the opportunity to be there a few weeks ago for a Karaoke contest, but it was 10 PM and that’s pretty much past my bedtime, let alone meal time. But I liked the atmosphere so we decided to go up for supper.
This review kind of came by accident…we were headed to Westfield to do a review on another pub, only to find out it’s gone out of business, and since the Carey Tavern is just down the road, we decided to give it a try.
Unlike a few of the other pubs I’ve reviewed in the past, the Carey tavern is smaller than it looks from the outside. There’s a dining area, a medium sized bar, a couple of pool tables and game machines, and that’s about it.
Their menu is not as extensive as some of the sports bars/pubs in the area, but they have number of selections to fit most any appetite. While perusing the sandwiches, I saw a tenderloin, offered either “hand breaded” or grilled. Of course, it was a no brainer…a hand breaded tenderloin it was!
The sandwich is certainly hand breaded, and I’d say hand cut, also. The breading is really outstanding! It’s got a taste in it that I couldn’t quite define, but it adds a very nice punch to the breading. Holly suggested it might be seasoned salt, and it very well might be, but whatever it is, it’s fantastic. Among the best I’ve had.
Although this doesn’t LOOK like a large sandwich, it’s VERY thick. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but in this instance it might have been just a bit TOO thick. The meat was nice and moist, but it was just a wee bit tough. A bit of pounding would’ve put this sandwich over the top. Also, we encountered a very small bit of gristle in the sandwich. Not much, but enough to throw the score off.
The bun was nicely toasted, and the sandwich was served dressed exactly as I requested it. I’m going to give the Carey tavern’s breaded tenderloin sandwich a 4 out of 5, certainly above average. With just a bit of tweaking, it’d be right up there with the best in town.
The sandwich comes with your choice of sides, and I chose the onion rings. I’m VERY glad I did, they were AWESOME. If you’re an onion ring fan, don’t miss these.
For her dinner, Holly chose the grilled tilapia sandwich with a side of fries. She reported the fries to be average, but the sandwich was stellar! It was dressed just as she requested, and was one of the best grilled tilapia sandwiches she’d ever had.
There are a couple of things that detracted from our experience as a whole, though. First of all, the music was loud. I don’t mean a little high, I mean one can barely hear oneself think and it made it a bit difficult to carry on a conversation.
Secondly, it’s a smoking restaurant. I’ve got no problem with smoking restaurants, as long as they have a decent ventilation system, but between cigarette and cigar smoke, there was a cloud that just hung in the room. Although the food was very good, the loud music and the extremely smoky conditions made for a less than optimal dining experience.
The Carey tavern is located at 17419 Carey Road in Westfield, Indiana. I was unable to find a web page for them, but they do have a page on Facebook.
I’m always looking for a good tenderloin when I’m traveling, as most of you know, and I’m also always looking for a good, locally owned restaurant, preferring to get local taste instead of a chain when I’m on the road.
We were up in Warsaw, Indiana, playing a St Patrick’s day gig, and one of Holly’s friends lives up in that area, (Hi Erin! Hi Reyna!!) and they had heard good things about the Barbee Hotel and Restaurant, just off of Lake Barbee, so we decided to give it a try.
The Barbee Hotel is famous for 3 reasons…it was the reputed hideout of Al Capone during his heyday, the Gable and Lombard suite…where they stayed when they were married, and its reputation of being haunted.
We didn’t see any ghosts while we were there, as some folks say they have (but not for lack of trying!!) nor did we smell Al Capone’s cigar smoke wafting through the building, as some say they have, but we did enjoy a VERY good meal and enjoyed the after dinner ghost hunt.
Although the Barbee Hotel doesn’t look like much from the outside, the restaurant itself is VERY nice - textured tin ceiling, nice bar, comfortable seating, and an attentive waitress. We were off to a good start.
The menu is quite varied, with everything from sandwiches and salads to steaks, seafood, and quite a number of Italian dishes, with daily specials.
I saw they had a breaded tenderloin, and asked our waitress if they were done in house, and she honestly didn’t know. However, they also offered a grilled tenderloin, so that told me they probably DO make them in house, and I decided to take a chance.
As you can see from the photo, it does appear to be hand breaded and cut…it’s not a pre-processed pork fritter, of that, I’m certain. It’s neither uniform in shape or thickness, so I suspect they are, indeed, made in house.
So, how was it? It wasn’t bad. However, in all fairness, it wasn’t that good, either. It certainly was a bit above average, but far short of outstanding. The breading was..pretty bland. And the meat was just a bit dry for my tastes. But, again, it wasn’t bad. There was just nothing to set it apart from the others. Since it did appear to be fresh and made in house, I’m going to give it a 3 out of 5, just above average.
I got fries as my side, and they were nothing special, but the salad I ordered was VERY good….one of the better side salads I’ve had in a while.
For her meal, Holly chose one of the house specials for the evening: parmesan encrusted whitefish. She reported it to be outstanding – very flavorful, with a nice balance between the fish and the seasoning of the breading. The dinner special came with a choice of soup or salad, vegetable du jour, and your choice of potato – so there were several combinations available from which to choose.
Even though the tenderloin wasn’t stellar, the experience as a whole was great. The service was tops, LOVE the atmosphere, and the rest of the food looks to be FAR above average. I’m sure we’ll be back up that way this year, and this will be a must stop for us.
The Barbee Hotel and Restaurant is located at 3620 N Barbee Road in Warsaw, Indiana. Reservations are accepted on the weekends, and are highly recommended. You can find them online at http://www.barbeehotel.com
Hella’s Greek Cafe’ is a place I’ve been aware of for quite some time, but only recently stopped in there for lunch for the first time. The first time we were there, I noticed that they had a breaded tenderloin on their menu…one of only a couple of American dishes…and it’s been on my list to try ever since. The problem is, their Greek food is so good, I couldn’t tear myself away from it.
I’m no authority on Greek food, but I do know what I like, and I like Hella’s a lot. Their Greek food is always tasty and service is always outstanding, and that keeps me coming back.
I’ll say up front that this isn’t a traditional breaded tenderloin sandwich, so I’m not going to rate it on my traditional 1-5 bite scale.
The tenderloin is hand breaded in house, and the breading is very light…much lighter than most other tenderloins I’ve experienced. It’s crisp and tasty, and it certainly is a nice compliment to the taste of the meat…it’s not heavy like some breading can be. I liked this light breading quite a lot!
The meat itself is very good also. It might fall a bit short of outstanding, but it’s certainly well above average. It’s tender and moist with a very good flavor.
The sandwich is served on a Pita. Generally, Pitas are a bit more hard and chewy than a standard bun, but with the very light breading and the tender meat, it worked quite well. The sandwich was served dressed as I requested and service was prompt and friendly.
Since it’s not quite traditional, I’m going to rate this on the “would I buy it again” scale, and the answer is, yes, I certainly would order this sandwich again. However, their Greek food is SO good….I’d have to be craving a tenderloin while I was there.
Holly recommends the chicken or pork slouvakia with Greek potatoes. You can’t go wrong with this classic Greek kabob. The meat is consistently moist and tender with just the right amount of seasonings.
Hella’s Greek Café’ is located on Westfield Boulevard, just south of 82nd street. You can find them online at http://hellascafe.net
It’s been a great 100. I’ve been interviewed by some podcasts, magazines, radio stations, and more, and have enjoyed every minute of it. And I look forward to the next 100!
When I was approaching number 100, there really was no question as to where I wanted to go. Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana, is the generally accepted home of the breaded tenderloin (although a couple of other places argue that claim), so off to Huntington we went.
If you want to read a bit about the restaurant and history, you can go to http://www.nickskitchen.net.
Nick’s is your typical small town diner. I was struck upon entering just how sparkling clean it was…it looked like everything had been freshly scrubbed and clean. The walls have dozens, if not more, pictures of local history. This being Dan Quayle’s hometown, there are many photos of him, including a couple of him at Nick’s, where he announced his candidacy. While we were there we heard someone ask the waitress “Do you remember when Danny Quayle was here??”…
One thing I’ve found out about tenderloins in doing these reviews is how loyal folks are to them. I’ve had views from all over the world, both from transplanted Hoosiers and from folks who have either had a tenderloin while passing through, or who have heard about them from relatives or friends here. Nick’s menu says the same…and they SHIP their tenderloins, all over the world! Yes, we tenderloin lovers are passionate.
Nick’s menu has pretty much standard diner fare, with a few exceptions. Goulash was the lunch special yesterday, and Holly had something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on a diner menu, but more about that later.
Well…as you can tell by the picture…it might as well have been a pre-processed fritter. Matter of fact, I’m not sure it wasn’t! But, to be fair, I’m not sure it was, either. We’ll just stick with it looked and tasted like a fritter and let you all make your own judgement. Being a devoted tenderloin connoisseur….about all I can say about it is that it was edible. The bun WAS nicely toasted and it was dressed as I requested…but that’s pretty much it. I’m going to give Nick’s breaded tenderloin a 1 out of 5 bites. Just edible.
The onion rings were OUTSTANDING and I wouldn’t hesitate to get them again.
Holly had a Portabella Po’ Boy. Gotta love fried mushrooms! These were big strips of portabella fried to a golden brown and served on a toasted bun. That much alone sounded delicious. Although it was advertised to have “roasted red peppers, lettuce, and Italian dressing”, it arrived differently. She requested no lettuce and the dressing on the side, which they got right. But the red peppers were not roasted – they were raw. And the mushrooms were covered with shredded cheese. The menu said nothing about shredded cheese on the sandwich. Had she known that it came with cheese she would have ordered that on the side as well. She said that even though it was not quite what she expected, it was still tasty. However, she observed freshly formed hamburger patties being constructed in the kitchen (which is fully visible from the dining room), and decided that when they visit Nick’s again, she would definitely order one of those!
If you go to Nick’s and Sugar Cream Pie is on the menu for the day, do NOT hesitate to order it.
I would turn around right now and drive and hour and a half for another piece of that pie..it truly WAS that good, and they’re made in house.
All in all…Nick’s was a good experience. We’d certainly go back, I just wouldn’t order the tenderloin again.
Nick’s is located at 506 N Jefferson in Huntington, Indiana
Barley Island is, again, one of those places I’ve been aware of for years, but never had the opportunity to stop in. There are 2 locations, one in Noblesville and one in Broad Ripple.
We stopped in the Noblesville store.
Upon entering, I was really surprised at just how large this place is! From the street, it doesn’t look like it would seat more than 20 or 30 people, but there’s a nice dining room, a nice stage area and a nice bar. The evening we were there, most of the people were seated at the bar, and for good reason….the bartender was serving as the server for the entire place.
I was pleasantly surprised at just how varied the menu was. Steaks, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and much, much more. A several page menu, it took a few minutes to peruse it and make our choices.
Well, actually, it didn’t take me long. When I saw “hand breaded tenderloin” I knew what *I* was going to get.
When I ordered the sandwich, the server ask me “Do you want the beer breading or the regular breading?”. Now….here’s a place that obviously takes their breaded tenderloin serious! I chose the beer batter breading, and I’m glad I did.
The sandwich is nice and thick…thicker than all but a couple of tenderloins I’ve tasted. The meat is moist and tender, with not even the slightest hint of gristle. The flavor is great, and it was done perfectly.
The beer breading is really, really outstanding. It’s a little thinner than some of the breadings I’ve had, but, in this case, it works, and it works well. It’s so crisp and flavorful that you don’t need a lot of it to make the sandwich really “pop”. The sandwich was served dressed exactly as I ordered it, the bun was nicely toasted….this sandwich certainly is a 5 out of 5…really, really outstanding.
I ordered onion rings as my side, and they were very, very good also. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to get them again.
For her dinner, Holly choose the Lime Glazed Salmon Salad. It was quite tasty as well. She also sampled the Dirty Helen Ale and said it was outstanding.
Barley Island is located at 639 Connner Street in Noblesville, Indiana. It’s an all ages restaurant until the kitchen closes (“around” 10PM) then it becomes 21 and over.
You can find them online at http://www.barleyisland.com