The Breakfast Company, Crawfordsville, Indiana

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My wife, Holly and I had been hiking at Shades State Park, and were looking for a place to have lunch before we headed back to Indy for the day.

Based on Yelp reviews, we chose a Japanese restaurant in Crawfordsville.  We got there, and found they were closed on Tuesdays  (which seems like an odd day to be closed to me) so off we went to search for something else.

We found The Breakfast Company also through a Yelp search, and since we were in a bit of a time crunch to get back to Indy, we decided to give it a try.  I’m glad we did.

The Breakfast Company is a breakfast and lunch place located in a busy strip center in Crawfordsville.  Upon entering, I was struck by how HUGE this place is…it’s long and narrow, but it’s MUCH larger than I anticipated.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted breakfast for lunch, or lunch for lunch, then I saw a breaded tenderloin on the menu.  I was a little suspect, so I asked our server if it was a real tenderloin or a fritter, and he heartily said “It’s a REAL tenderloin” so I was sold.

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I’m glad I ordered it.  First off, as you can see, it’s a bit thinner than I typically prefer.  That said, the flavor was VERY good.  The breading was a bit peppery, which I like quite a bit.  The meat was a solid piece of meat and was nice and tender, and the breading was nice and crisp.  The combination of textures was great.  While I’m not sure it quite reaches 5 star range, I’m going to give it a solid 4 star review.  Certainly above average, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.  For my side I chose fries, and they were crinkle cut, my favorite.  Good fries, but not done in house.  All in all, a satisfying meal.

For her lunch, Holly chose an Avocado Chicken Wrap, which they gladly modified to accomodate her food allergies.  They grill the wrap, which added a nice touch on a cool fall day.

We’ll certainly return when we go back to Shades for some more hiking.  I think I’ll try breakfast next time, because their breakfast menu is massive and has some interesting choices on it.

The Breakfast Company is located at 1630 Crawfordsville Square Dr in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  You can find them online at http://www.thebreakfastco.net/

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Choo Choo McGoo’s, Kokomo, Indiana

I had a hankerin’ for a good tenderloin AND a road trip, so this Monday we drove up to Kokomo, Indiana, to try a new tenderloin, grab a geocache, and go for a nice walk on the Nickel Plate Trail.

I’d heard about Choo Choo McGoo’s from a couple of folks, and decide this was going to be our destination of choice today.  It was a good chance to try a new tenderloin, and meet our good friends Doug and Val for lunch.
Choo Choo McGoo’s is located in the building that formerly housed Ducky’s restaurant, which was feature on The Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible, and subsequently closed in 2013.

After sitting vacant for a while, the current owners opened with a loosely train themed restaurant. If you know anything at all about me, you know they had me at trains.

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Inside is a nice mixture of old toys, trains, pictures of local history.  It fairly screams “small town”.  It seems everyone knows everyone else in there.  It’s not an especially large restaurant, to me, the word “cozy” comes to mind.  That’s just fine, I like cozy.

Our server was prompt and friendly, and throughout the meal did a great job of allowing us to visit with friends while checking on us to see if we needed anything.

The menu is actually quite a bit larger than I anticipated.  Quite a few sandwiches, a nice selection of appetizers,  and entree options.

Of course, I had my mind set on a tenderloin.  Even though I’d already decided before walking through the door, when the meny read “hand breaded to order” I had especially high hopes.

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This, my friends, is an outstanding tenderloin.  It stacks up against any I’ve had.  The size was perfect—a nice, hearty sandwich without being overwhelming.  It wasn’t pounded out to a hubcap, it had a nice thickness to it.  The breading was as close to perfect as I’ve seen.  Nice and crisp, it complimented the taste of the meat.  The meat itself had an outstanding flavor, and was nice and moist.  It was served as I requested, with a healthy slice of onion.  There’s no doubt about it, this is a 5 out of 5 tenderloin.  If I ever make a tenderloin hall of fame, this will certainly qualify.

For my side, I chose onion rings, and they, too were simply outstanding.

For her lunch, Holly chose the grilled salmon.  Customers have the option of having it grilled plain or with a glaze.  Holly chose to have hers grilled plain, and she reported it to be outstanding – moist, tender and flavorful – no glaze was needed!  The entrees come with two sides, and they have several from which to choose.

Choo Choo McGoo’s is located at 816 E Markland Ave in Kokomo, Indiana.  You can find them online at www.choochoomcgoos.com  and they also have a Facebook page.

Murphy’s Bar and Grill, Riverside, Iowa

On our pilgramage to Iowa, to visit the world’s largest truckstop and the future birthplace of James T. Kirk, we knew we had to visit the place were James Tiberius Kirk will be conceived in the future.  It must be true, because there’s a plaque on the wall that marks the very spot.

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Murphy’s is a pretty standard small town pub.  a bar in the middle, and some booths and tables around the outside.  Located on the main street of Riverside, you can walk here from pretty much anywhere in town (it’s a very small town).  It’s larger than it appears from the outside by far.  We were having an early lunch, as we were headed back to Indianapolis that afternoon.  There was a local gentleman eating lunch at the bar, and while we where there a party of out of town folks came in and immediately started looking for the plaque I mentioned earlier.  This place is a  bit of a legend in Star Trek history.

The menu is pretty standard pub fare—sandwiches, burgers, a steak or two.  Of course, I was there to try the breaded tenderloin.

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As in Indiana, tenderloin styles in Iowa vary widely.  This one was pounded out thinner, yet not paper thin.  The breading was nice and crunchy, and, although it was thin,  there was enough heft to the tenderloin that I enjoyed the texture quite a lot.  The meat was flavorful, and the breading was nicely seasoned.  As I mentioned, it was just a tad thin for my liking, still, it was a very good sandwich.  I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 bites.  Next time I’m in Riverside  (next year for TrekFest, actually!)  I’ll certainly eat here again.

For her dinner, Holly had blackened salmon.  She said it was pretty tasty, albeit a bit dry.

Murphy’s is located at 71 E 1st Street in Riverside, Iowa.  I was unable to located a website for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Gramma’s Kitchen, Walcott, Iowa

My wife, Holly, and I made a whirlwind trip to Iowa to visit the World’s Largest Truck Stop, and then Riverside, Iowa, future birthplace of Captain James T Kirk, and, of course, we had to try a couple of Iowa tenderloins while I was in the area!

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Our first stop was Gramma’s Kitchen in Walcott, Iowa. Gramma’s Kitchen is located right on Interstate 80 in Eastern Iowa, and is actually two restaurants in one…Gramma’s Kitchen, and The Checkered Flag Bar and Grille.
Both have identical menus, and the two restaurants are basically a family side and a bar and grille side. We dined in the bar and grille side, which is spacious and nicely decorated in a bit of a racing theme. Lots of chrome and neon, with several TVs scattered around, it made for a nice, comfortable experience. The sound on the TVs was down, and I must say I appreciated that, because as I get older I find the noise level in some restaurants almost overwhleming.
Right off the bat, service was stellar. We were greeted and seated promptly. The menu is quite large, but I’d already made my mind up….since the Iowa Pork Producers had named this the “Best Tenderloin in Iowa”, that was what I was going to get.

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I gotta say…if it’s not the best tenderloin in Iowa, I’d be surprised. This was absolutely one of the best tenderloins I’ve had in quite some time. The breading was just right. It was nice and crunchy and stayed that way through the life of the sandwich. The meat itself was moist and tender, and I really liked the size of the sandwich. It was enough to be a hearty meal, but wasn’t pounded out thin enough to look like a hubcap…it was the perfect mixture of textures–tender yet firm. The breading had what I would consider the perfect amount of seasoning–enough to compliment the flavor without overwhelming it.
The sandwich was served as I requested. Without a doubt, this is 5 out of 5 bites.
For her dinner, Holly chose a classic sirloin steak. It was cooked perfectly – medium, as requested – and the flavor was excellent.
Gramma’s Kitchen is located at 3408 N Plainview Road, Walcott, Iowa. You can find them online at http://www.grammaskitchenia.com and also on Facebook.
For those interested, you can follow me on Twitter @indycacher or Instagram @n9gsu or @patchwork.music

Lou’s Diner, Cloverdale, Indiana

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We were in West Central Indiana, doing a 5k benefit walk for the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, and figured right after a 5k was a great time to eat a breaded tenderloin!

Before we dig into the review, let me mention the EFRC in Center Point, Indiana.  It’s one of our favorite places in the state, and we love to spread the news about this spot that gives homes to big cats that are unable to be released into the wild.  Former circus animals, rescues, pets, and others, it’s an amazing place to visit and we highly recommend it! You can read more about them at www.exoticfelinerescuecenter.org

We’d heard about Lou’s Diner in Cloverdale…right on our route home, so decided that would be our stop.

Lou’s wasn’t exactly easy to spot…there was some road construction in the area, and it’s located in what appears to be a largely industrial area.  We found it, parked, and walked in.

It’s an unassuming place…pretty typical small town diner.  There are a few pictures on the walls, mostly of covered bridges and local history, and not much else.  It truly appears to be a place where folks gather for good food and conversation, as opposed to decor or watching sports on TV.  A nice change of pace from many of the places around!

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t give the menu more than a passing glance, as the tenderloin had already come highly recommended.  I asked our waitress “How’s your tenderloin” and she answered with my pet peeve. “It’s HUGE”.

I’ll probably come off as cranky here, but that wasn’t what I asked.  I’m really not concerned with the size, I want to know if it’s good or not.  The only think worse than a small mediocre sandwich is a large mediocre sandwich, right?  I questioned her further, and she told me that they get their meat fresh and make them fresh daily.  I was sold.

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This is an outstanding sandwich!  The meat itself is tender and moist, and the breading was perfectly seasoned to compliment the taste of the meat.  With the bun and requested condiments (I eat mine with ketchup, mayo, and onion) it was as good a tenderloin as I’ve had in a while.  It certainly stacks up with any of the best in the state and I’ll give it a 5 out of 5 bites.

For my side, I splurged and got onion rings.  They were fantastic as well! Nicely breaded, fried just right, and the bistro sauce recommended by our waitress set them off perfectly.

For her lunch, Holly had the grilled chicken salad.  The grilled chicken was moist and flavorful. But what really shines on this salad is their low calorie dressing option – blueberry pomegranate!  More than anything, this tasted like a fruit purée. It was not heavy or oily at all…the perfect light dressing for my ultra-healthy lunch!

Lou’s Diner is located at 3 Stardust Way, Cloverdale, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a website for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Redemption Aleworks, Indianapolis

 

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With last week being Indy Tenderloin Week, we thought it was a good idea to try some tenderloins we’d not had yet.

Friday night, we chose Redemption Aleworks on the north side of Indy.  We’d heard good things about this place, but had not had the opportunity to check it out.

Redemption Aleworks is located in a strip center on the north side of 96th street, almost across from Metro airport.  There’s a small, dog friendly patio, and the inside has an all ages area as well as a 21 and over bar area.

The decor is rather what I’d call “industrial”….I liked it!  To me, it doesn’t look like your typical strip mall pub.

The menu has some interesting choices on it, with some nice variations on typical pub fare.  To be sure, beer is their forte’, as it should be, but I was impressed with the menu.

Of course, I was there to try the tenderloin, with it being Indy Tenderloin Week.  They offered 2 choices–a traditional breaded tenderloin, as well as a mushroom bordelaise tenderloin.  Although I’m a traditionalist, I decided to give the latter a try.

It’s your typical breaded tenderloin, served on brioche, with a mushroom bordelaise sauce on it.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it or not, but I decided to chance it.

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I’m glad I did!  The tenderloin itself was stellar–the meat was moist and tender, and the breading was darn near perfect.  The bordelaise sauce, combined with the mushrooms and brioche instead of a traditional hamburger bun made a REALLY nice combination of textures.  Not only was the texture very good, but the taste was also! It was a nice, savory combination of flavors that worked really well. Although I was unsure how it would work, I was sold after the first bite.

Instead of rating this on my normal 1-5 scale, since it’s not a traditional breaded tenderloin sandwich, I’ll just say I’d order it again without hesitation.  Outstanding!

Holly, for her dinner, ordered the chicken bacon chipotle wrap with a side salad featuring their in house made basil vinaigrette.  Everything tasted great, except that she didn’t notice any bacon on the wrap.

For our sides, we chose salads and they, as well, were outstanding!  Not an out of the bag salad, but a healthy portion of real salad. Much appreciated.

I want to give a shout out to our server, Matt!  A personable young man, he was the perfect mix of friendly and professional and was quite capable when we were asking questions about the menu.


Redemption Aleworks is located at 7035 E 96th street in Indy.  You can find them online at www.redemptionaleworks.com and also on Facebook and Twitter.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub, Indianapolis

 

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One of the toughest parts about writing reviews is remaining unbiased, even when I WANT to like a place.  But, I’ve come to realize, perhaps the kindest thing I can do for a restaurant is to be accurate and impartial in a review, so the owners/management can realize they might have a problem and take whatever steps are necessary to fix them, should they so desire.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub has a rich history, and was the first brew pub in Indiana.  Located right across from the Monon Trail, the patio is a great place to sit and watch folks going up and down the Monon.

There’s ample dining inside, spread about several different rooms.

We were meeting friends for dinner, and none of us had ever been here, so thought since it was Indy Tenderloin Week, it’d be a good choice for us.

We had planned to meet at 6:15.  When we arrived shortly after 6PM we were promptly seated.

Then the wait began.  After being seated for 30 minutes, my wife went to the host stand and told them we’d not seen a server, and was told they’d send someone over.

15 more minutes, still no server, another member of our party went to the host stand to tell them we still didn’t have a server.  We were assured someone would be right over.

15 MORE minutes and still no server, another trip to the host stand, and finally, after an hour(!), our server showed up, and said “I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was my table”.

Service was an interesting experience.  We saw other diners arrive after us, order, get their food, finish and leave before we got our food.  We also saw one other table come in, sit, finally get up and leave after not seeing a server. There didn’t seem to be any pattern to what servers were waiting on what tables.

We weren’t off to a good start, but I understand that off nights do happen.  We all ordered our food, got our drinks, and then another wait began. After having been in the restaurant nearly 2 hours, our food arrived.

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The first thing I noticed was that one of my dining partner’s tenderloin was burnt.  Not just dark, but black and crispy around the edges. Mine wasn’t exactly burnt, but certainly well overcooked.  Then I realized it was cold. Not lukewarm, but cold. The meat, the bun, everything, cold. I then did something that I NEVER do–I sent it back.  (I’ve long said I will not send a reviewed sandwich back, I’ll eat it as it’s served, but after waiting 2 hours, by golly, I wanted at least a HOT sandwich.)

They brought my replacement sandwich out, and it was–cold.  At this point, I decided it was best to cut my losses and just eat it so we could leave.  We’d already spent far more time here than anticipated.

The first thing I had to do was cut a significant portion of fat/gristle out of the sandwich.  The sandwich itself–in an attempt to be accurate, the meat was tender and tasty, although a bit on the dry side, and pounded out a bit thin for my liking.  To be fair, it WAS a true tenderloin, not a fritter. The breading was bland and, as mentioned before, far overcooked and burnt around the edges.

Attention to detail was certainly lacking, as the sandwich wasn’t served dressed as I requested.  I requested mayo, ketchup, and onion, and I got lettuce and pickle. However, I WILL say the pub chips I chose as my side order were outstanding.

For her dinner, Holly chose the lemon tahini chicken wrap.  When our order finally arrived and was served to us, Holly’s dish was not what she had ordered.  The person dolling out the food kept saying “Who ordered the chimichurri wrap?” When no one spoke up, the server who took our order asked Holly if she had ordered the chimichurri wrap.  Holly said no – then the server, after a moment of realization, said, “Did you order the lemon tahini chicken wrap?” And Holly answered “Yes I did.” So they quickly swept Holly’s plate back to the kitchen.  A few minutes later, they brought her wrap, and it was basically grilled chicken with romaine, chopped tomato and some kind of red wine vinaigrette dressing. Still not what she ordered, but at this point, after two hours and everyone else eating, she kept it and ate it.

I’m torn on how to rate this sandwich, for it was technically edible–barely.  Based on the sandwich, the service, and the 2 hour wait, I’m going to rate this a 0 out of 5 bites.  It certainly doesn’t merit a return visit, nor a recommendation.


Broad Ripple Brew Pub is located at 842 E 65th street in Indianapolis.  You can find them online at www.broadripplebrewpub.com

 

Update—a response from Broad Ripple Brew Pub

Rick, somebody shared your review of the Broad Ripple Brewpub on Twitter and I just felt the need to reach out to you. My name is Billy Hannan and I’m the GM at the Brewpub and the one who ran your food. Let me apologize for the poor service you got. It was caused by a number of factors including one of the few warm days this year, a lack of available staff, the fact that we were running a Dine to Donate event for Girls Rock and not least of all Tenderloin Week itself. But the biggest problem was an already extremely busy server mishearing your table number and everyone else being too busy to notice at first that you weren’t getting service. In other words, it was probably the worst possible night for anyone to write a review of our restaurant. Had you come in any other evening that we’ve been running the tenderloins as a special – we started on Wednesday, you’d have had a much better experience. I was forced to stop seating customers a one point and finally ended up closing the kitchen two hours early to allow them to catch up. I’ve been running shifts at the Brewpub for over fifteen years and I’ve never had to do that before. I don’t offer this as an excuse, but to let you know that your opinion of the Brewpub is not based on the usual level of service you’re going to get. After all, if we were as terrible as we came across to your group, we wouldn’t have been as full as we were nor would we have survived as a popular destination for the past 28 years. I’ll close by saying I’m truly sorry that you saw us at our worst. Billy Hannan GM