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.
A new restaurant, Big Mike’s Americana Cafe’, has opened close to home, and I had heard through the grapevine that they have a pretty darn good tenderloin. I always take things I hear through the grapevine with a grain of salt…everyone’s opinion is different, after all. But, I was looking for somewhere to have dinner last night, so decided to give them a try.
Mike’s is in the location that formerly housed Tomato Pie, an Italian restaurant. Holly and I had had lunch there one time, and the experience was……less than stellar. Since they’re now out of business, I suspect that was the same experience others had.
One problem I had with the former restaurant was that it was, in my eyes, pretentious. If there’s one thing I can NOT stand, it’s pretentiousness.
Mike’s is anything but pretentious. The door and windows have posters and flyers of local events, and it has the feel of a small town diner, even though it’s just outside of Indianapolis proper, and located in a very business corridor. We were greeted by who I assume was Big Mike himself (I never reveal my identity when I’m doing a review) in a prompt and friendly manner, who took a minute to explain the menu to us.
A nice selection of sandwiches, pizza, and full meals, with what I consider to be very reasonable prices appear on the menu. Just like a small town diner, the descriptions are brief and to the point, it’s obvious that the emphasis is on the food, not the verbiage.
For the breaded tenderloin, it simply says “Breaded Tenderlion…a Hoosier favorite”. Nothing else. And, when I saw the price…..$6.99, including a very generous helping of fries…I became immediately skeptical. I full expected a frozen fritter for that price.
Then they brought the sandwich, and it was obvious that it was no run of the mill tenderloin. I learned later that they’re hand pounded and hand breaded, and it shows. Pounded thin, but not TOO thin, with a perfect coating of batter….this looked REALLY good. I took a bite of the meat..and…WOW. Fresh, tasty, moist…really fantastic. That’s about the only way I can put it. The breading was tasty without being overwhelming. They’ve done their homework and done this one right.
However, when they brought the sandwich, it was served on a pretzel roll. I, again, was skeptical, but, folks, this works, and it works well. No run of the mill pretzel roll, these are locally made by Cornerstone Bakery and are over the top good. I also found out that Mike uses all the locally made ingredients he can…a HUGE plus in my book.
I got all the condiments I requested, and there were plenty of them. The fries were tasty, the food was hot, the service was excellent…the whole experience rates a 5 out of 5 bites.
Holly had a blackened tilapia sandwich, served on the same pretzel roll, and, it too, was outstanding. For the same price of $6.99, it’s quite the bargain.
Big Mike is working hard to make this restaurant a success, and with food like this, I don’t see how he can miss. We’ll return, and we’ll return soon.
Big Mike’s is all ages and non smoking, and does serve beer for those who desire it. Big Mike’s is located at 9611 N College Avenue in Indianapolis.
I was vaguely familiar with The Stutz Building, located at 10th and Senate in Indianapolis. A lovely old building that now houses apartments, art studios, first Friday events, and Bearcats restaurant.
I knew that there was a restaurant here, but had no idea what it was called, nor did I have any idea what was on their menu. I was attending an event at Bearcats and it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Since I had no idea what kind of food they had, and I couldn’t find a menu online, I was totally unprepared to do a review. However, upon arriving, I saw that someone else had a breaded tenderloin, so I knew I had to do a review.
The owner of the restaurant gets major points for jumping right in and waiting tables and taking care of a large group. Other restaurant owners should take a hint from this kind of service.
The menu advertises that their tenderloins are cut fresh every day and hand breaded, and this was certainly the case. The meat was tender, moist, and juicy, and was a more than ample serving. More than that, they’re not pounded paper thin…it’s rather like a nice pork chop.
The breading was top notch. Was it the best breading I’ve ever had? No, not quite. But it was still very, very good. Crunchy and crisp and it stayed that way throughout the life of the sandwich.
I asked for my normal condiments, (Ketchup, Mayo, Onion) and the server advised me that all condiments are served on the side, which is fine with me.
The bun was nice and fresh, and well toasted…actually, toasted just a bit more than is my preference. It wasn’t objectionable by ANY means…just a bit more toasted than I’m used to.
The price? This sandwich is a bargain. $7.99, and that includes fries (my favorite kind of fries…shoestring!) AND cole slaw, which was quite tasty, if just a tad bland.
I’ve had a few hours to think about this sandwich, and I’m going to give it a 4.5 out of 5 bites. It falls just short of the hall of fame, but it is worth driving across town for.
Bearcats is located at 1055 N Senate in Indianapolis. I found out after the fact that they DO have a website, and that is http://www.bearcatsindy.net.
We’ve driven by the Wagon Wheel Eatery several times, and often commented on what a cool place it looks like, but never had a chance to stop until last night. We were headed over to visit Holly’s Father in Ingalls, Indiana, and decided to stop and have a bite to eat on the way.
The Wagon Wheel is a typical small town restaurant, and may well have the friendliest staff we’ve ever encountered. And, this is sincere friendly, not some big city attempt at being small town. Holly commented that being in the restaurant felt like being in someone’s living room, and, indeed, that’s the case. We felt comfortable and at home from the moment we stepped through the door.
The menu has quite a number of items without being overwhelming. Sandwiches, a steak or two, wings, and heavy on the comfort food. The waitress took time to go through the menu with us. Of course, I was only interested in one thing..the breaded tenderloin, which she told us was hand pounded and hand breaded. That sealed the deal for me.
Well….it didn’t taste as good as it looked…it tasted BETTER. This tenderloin is right up at the top….I’ll cut right to the chase and tell you it’s a 5 out of 5 bites. No question about it. The meat is tender and moist, and the breading is wonderfully crisp..the perfect combination of textures.
But, texture is wasted if the taste is not there. The taste was simply fantastic. The meat is sweet and fresh, and the breading is perfect. I can not think of a single thing to say to detract from this sandwich. Even the price is a bargain…$6.95 for the sandwich, and that includes hand cut, home made french fries.
Holly ordered grilled cod and it was very, very good. As one of her sides, she ordered onion rings. Take a tip from me…do NOT miss these onion rings. They are battered, sweet, rings of heaven.
Everything about this experience was tops in our book. The service, food, and atmosphere all make us anxious for our next visit!
The Wagon Wheel Eatery is located at 6833 W Broadway, McCordsville, Indiana. I was unable to find a web page for them, but if you’re on Facebook, they do have a Facebook page.
Sahm’s is a small group of family owned restaurants in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their logo/slogan is simple and direct…”Fresh. Local”. They have a VERY loyal following, and I must say it’s well deserved.
Their menu includes everything from salads to sandwiches to seafood and steaks…and just about everything imaginable in between.
I’d been to Sahm’s before, and had even had their tenderloin, but that was well before I started reviewing them, so a return visit was in order. I remembered it being very good…but wasn’t sure how it would stand up to a more critical eye.
The meat is fantastic…tender, moist, and full of flavor. The breading is over the top good…nice and crispy, that gives a nice, satisfying crunch when you bite into it. It took me a bit to eat this sandwich, and I’m happy to report that down to the final bite, the cruch was still there, no bit of sogginess to be found. The bun is expertly toasted, and the sandwich was served dressed as I requested it.
The sandwich sells for $8.95, and that includes your choice of one side. I chose onion rings, and they were tops. There are a couple of places that have onion rings by which all others are judged, and this one rates right up there.
This one is easily a 5 out of 5 bites. The sandwich, service, and the entire experience was over the top good.
Sahm’s has several locations around town. You can find the listed…and read more about their history on their website here.
Riley House is a small family restaurant located in Greenfield, Indiana.
Like many small town, non chain restaurants, the staff at Riley House treats you like family the minute you walk into the door, and many of the customers know each other. The very friendly waitress was the granddaughter of the original owner of the restaurant, which opened 60 years ago, and is still owned by a family member.
She asked us if we had ever been there before, and when we said no, she told us they were famous for their broasted chicken, pork chops, and breaded tenderloins.
While Holly perused the menu to make her choice, I took a bit of time and looked at the VERY extensive menu. Had I not already made my mind up to try the tenderloin, it would’ve likely taken me quite a bit of time to decided what I wanted. The menu is several pages long with just about every type of food imaginable, and heavy on the typical Hoosier comfort food.
Of course, I had already decided to try the breaded tenderloin, so my choice was easy.
As you can see, this thing is HUGE. And, that’s part of my problem with this sandwich. It’s pounded out so thin that one really can’t tell where the breading ends and the meat begins. I’d like to be able to tell you how the meat tastes, but, I really can’t….it was so thin I really couldn’t get a good taste of it.
And, there was something terribly wrong with this sandwich. Between the breading and the meat was a layer of…..soggy mush. That’s really the only way I can describe it. One bite into the sandwich, and I got a nice crunch from the breading, then a layer of sogginess. About the only way I can describe it is: disgusting. This is one of the few sandwiches that I didn’t finish, it was so bad.
It’s VERY possible they were having a bad day, or perhaps a new cook, because I’ve a couple of friends who have had them and proclaimed them excellent, and I trust their judgement. But this one was next to inedible.
That said, the bun was toasted nicely and the sandwich was dressed exactly as ordered. It sells for $6.99 and that includes fries.
That said, it might have been the worst tenderloin I’ve had so far. I’m going to have to give it a 0 out of 5 bites.
Everything else we had was excellent…Holly chose the broasted pork chops, and they might have been the best pork chops I’ve ever had. The service was excellent, the restaurant is clean and tidy, and I’d go back again, however, I’d stay as far away from the tenderloin as possible.
The Riley House is located at 1020 W Main Street in Greenfield, Indiana.
Jim Dandy used to be known for home cooked meals for a reasonable price, and that’s still partly the case, although they seem to be pushing patrons more towards their hot bar these days…a shift of emphasis from what I remember in the past. However, they still feature a full menu with a number of specials, and the prices are very reasonable for the food you receive.
Nevertheless, I opted for the breaded tenderloin, urged, in part, by the claim on their menu is the tenderloin is “what we’re famous for”.
Since their advertising boldy advertises their famous tenderloin (the term “World Famous” is even used on the table placard) I was sure that I would receive a hand breaded, hand trimmed piece of breaded goodness.
Maybe, someday, I’ll learn not to take advertising at face value.
What I got appeared to be a pre-frozen piece of breaded meat. No, it didn’t appear to be the run of the mill frozen pork patty, but it was HIGHLY disappointing. The breading was bland and tasteless…and the meat was pretty much the same way. If this is what they’re famous for, then their customer base is far less than discriminating.
I always try to find something good to say, and about this sandwich, the bun was toasted nicely and the sandwich came dressed exactly how I requested it. The fries were hot and tasty, and the price was reasonable….$6.95 including fries.
Still, it pales to what I was expecting from a “world famous” tenderloin. I’m going to give the Jim Dandy breaded tenderloin a 2 out of 5..below average.
Once again, the other things we ordered were very good to outstanding. Holly ordered a black angus mushroom swiss burger that was served on Texas toast, and it was over the top good. We shared a piece of strawberry pie for dessert, and it was a slice of heaven on a cloud of crust.
In short, everything was excellent….except the tenderloin.
The Noblesville location of Jim Dandy is located at 2301 Conner Street (State Road 32) in Noblesville, Indiana.
If you’re from Indiana, you’ve no doubt heard of Bobby Plump. If you’re from the southern part of the state, he’s an icon, if you’re from the Muncie area he’s a villan. Either way, he’s an important part of Indiana basketball history…and, I suspect, always will be.
He’s not the first local sports hero in any town to open up a bar or restaurant, but, these days, it seems most sports heroes lend their name to a chain rather than opening something special.
Plump’s Last Shot is, indeed, something special. Set in Broad Ripple Village, on the Monon Trail, it offers ample outside dining as well as an inside dining area. We chose to eat outside, as it was a beautiful spring evening, and enjoyed watching the walkers, runners, and cyclists going up and down the Monon trail.
Plump’s goes out of it’s way to make folks feel at home….which fits. Bobby Plump is from the tiny town of Milan, Indiana, and everything about this restaurant is small town, right down to the water dishes provided for those who might want to bring their dogs to the patio with them.
Plump’s Last Shot menu is full of pretty typical pub fare, with a few surprises thrown in. Holly chose a Buffalo Chicken Wrap, which was excellent…after getting over the initial surprise at just how HOT it was…and, I, of course, chose the breaded tenderloin sandwich.
Plump’s offers a hand cut, fresh tenderloin prepared 3 ways. Grilled, Breaded, or Blackened…which is the first time I recall seeing a Blackened Tenderloin.
The breaded option is big, but not so big as to be overwhelming, which is just the way I like it. The breading itself was tasty and had a really interesting “crunch” to it. As far as texture, it was certainly a 5 out of 5. The taste of the breading was a bit less stellar, but it was still VERY good and well above average.
The meat itself was also excellent…moist and tender, and the tenderness of the meat combined with the crunch of the breading made for an outstanding combination.
The bun and attention to detail was lacking a bit. The bun was fine, but it appeared they had only made a very token attempt at toasting it, so that knocks a few points off. And, the sandwich was not served dressed as I ordered it, and this lack of attention also decreases the score just a bit.
I must say a word about those onion rings. That one word is WOW. Do yourself a favor….get the onion rings.
Overall, I’m giving the Plump’s Last Shot breaded tenderloin sandwich a 4 out of 5 bites. It’s well above average and certainly worth a repeat visit from me. A little more attention to detail would bring the score up even more.
The sandwich sells for $6.95, and includes chips. Fries or Onion Rings will set you back $1-$1.50 more.
Plump’s Last Shot is located at 6416 Cornell Avenue in Indianapolis.
Richard’s Restaurants are a small chain that was founded in the late 60s in Bluffton, Indiana. They have a few stores scattered throughout north central and north east Indiana, and have developed a very loyal following through the years.
All of Richard’s seem to have the same menu, and much of it is “comfort food”….just good, solid, down home cooking. I’ve been to Richard’s quite a few times, and it’s always been a good experience. Overwhelming? Honestly, no, but good, solid food for a reasonable price.
And, the breaded tenderloin sandwich is no different. It’s advertised as hand cut and hand breaded and it certainly seems so. As is my preference, it’s not pounded paper thin, and it’s certainly not a frozen pork fritter.
The breading is crisp and tasty, if somewhat bland. The meat itself was a bit dry for my taste, but the flavor was….well, fine. Not outstanding, but not bad, either.
The condiments were served as I ordered, and there were plenty of them. One downside is that the bun is not toasted, which is not my preference and takes away from my score.
On the plus side, the price is right…$5.95 and that includes fries, and the service was friendly and attentitive.
Overall, I’m going to give Richard’s breaded tenderloin sandwich a 3.5 out of 5 bites. It’s above average, and it’s filling and satisfying. It won’t knock your socks off, but it’s better than the frozen fritters that some restaurants pass off as breaded tenderloins.
Richard’s Restaurant is located at 2601 N Martin Luther King Blvd in Muncie. You can visit there website here.
This restaurant is one of many that have been on my list to try, recommendations from friends and blog readers, that I’m slowly working through. I’ve actually been avoiding Grindstone Charley’s because of my perception of it being a national chain restaurant, and my experience with those has been less than stellar. Many of them…Applebee’s, Chili’s, O’Charley’s, etc, seem to be cookie cutter versions of each other with little character and somewhat bland food.
Grindstone Charlie’s is actually part of the regional Clancy’s chain, with Charlie’s having 8 locations in Indiana. They have a quite full menu, ranging from salads to sandwiches to steaks and about everything in between.
Tuesday found us headed to the west side of Indianapolis for a music gig, so we did a spur of the moment visit to Grindstone Charley’s. The sign on the building proudly proclaims the world’s best tenderloin, and, upon being seated, the tenderloin is the feature picture on the front of the menu.
So, did it live up to all the hype?
I’m happy to report that it did. When the waiter brought my sandwich, it looked just as tasty as the picture on the menu,and it certainly was! The meat was nice, juicy, and tender, and the breading was flaky, crispy, and flavorful. A cornmeal based breading, it perfectly complimented the tenderness and taste of the meat without overwhelming it.
The bun was buttered and toasted, with just enough butter to add even another layer of flavor on this already outstanding sandwich.
I ordered my sandwich, as always, with onion, mayo, and ketchup on the side, and as you can see, there are plenty of condiments and they were served as I ordered them.
Grindstone Charley’s breaded tenderloin sells for $8.59 and that includes French fries or slaw, or for $1.00 more you can opt for their “signature onion rings”. I chose the fries and they were quite good.
So, to recap: a great cut of meat. Tasty breading. Nicely toasted, buttered bun. Served as ordered. Grindstone Charley’s breaded tenderloin gets a 5 out of 5 bites, as good as it gets.
Holly had lemon pepper whitefish which was very good, and I have to give kudos to our server, who was pleasant and attentive without hovering over us.
I’ve not really been a steady customer of Grindstone Charley’s in the past, but with an experience like this…I will be!
We visited the location at 5828 Crawfordsville Road in Indianapolis. You can view their website and find their other locations here.