Sgt Pepper’s Chicken, Martinsville, Indiana

Peppers outside

Holly and I found ourselves scheduled to be in Martinsville, Indiana, where she was judging a middle school talent contest, and I wanted to try a tenderloin in a town I’d never had one in.

I asked the folks at the Pursuing Pork Tenderloins group on Facebook who had a good tenderloin in Martinsville, and two were recommended….Indy’s Family Restaurant and Sgt. Pepper’s Chicken.

Indy’s Family Restaurant was my first choice, because it sounded like it would be a good place to set and relax before the competition. Upon arriving, we found out it was a breakfast and lunch restaurant only, so off to Sgt. Pepper’s we went.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. Set in an unassuming, out of the way strip mall, it’s not too far off of State Road 37 and easy to get to.

Actually, from the inside, it doesn’t look like much, either. I suspect the building has been something else in a former life. You walk up to the counter, order your food, and then they call out your name when it’s ready.

Sgt. Pepper’s serves its food one way….fried. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Peppers loinI chose the hand breaded tenderloin. This is a VERY good tenderloin! It was the right size for me…not so large to be overwhelming, yet large enough to be a very hearty meal.

The breading was VERY tasty, but, I do think it could’ve used a bit more seasoning. Oddly, being named Sgt. Pepper’s, I think it could have used some more pepper. Still, it was tasty. The meat was very flavorful and tender. The bun was pretty much a standard bun, and they gave me plenty of onion for my sandwich…kudos to them for not being stingy!

I think with just a bit more seasoning, it certainly could have been outstanding. As it was, I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 bites. WELL above average and certainly worth getting.

For my side, I chose the fried potatoes, and they were simply outstanding. When we return, they certainly will be my go to side order. As an added bonus, this sandwich is a bargain…7.69 and that includes your choice of a side.

For her dinner, Holly chose the fried chicken, which is what they are known for. She reported it to be very tasty, albeit a bit salty for her taste. The homemade potato chips hit a home run with Holly! And they give you enough of a serving of chips that you can have some with your meal, and have plenty of leftovers for later.

Sgt. Pepper’s Chicken is located at 2028 Burton Lane in Martinsville, Indiana.

Their website is http://www.sgtpeppers.net/

Zeke’s Hot Chicken, Carmel, Indiana

Zekes sign

Zacky’s Hot Dogs is a place I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time now, on the recommendation of several folks who thought I’d enjoy their tenderloin. The opportunity hadn’t presented itself until last week, when I was having lunch with my friend Shawn Brown and I were having lunch to discuss a couple of upcoming projects.

I pulled up and was pretty sure I was in the right place, but it said “Zeke’s Hot Chicken” instead of “Zacky’s Hot Dogs”. Although they’re owned by the same folks, they apparently are capitalizing on the hot chicken craze and have rebranded.

Upon entering, it appears that hot chicken is king here. From what I saw other folks ordering, it’s obvious that folks are coming for the hot chicken, although they’re also known for their gourmet hot dogs. They obviously have a VERY loyal following. Although we had an early lunch, it was absolutely packed by the time we started our meal. I’m going to give a special shout out to the staff…they were just as nice and sweet as could be. For a while, I thought I was at some diner down in the hills of East Tennessee instead of Carmel, Indiana….it was that homey.

Several folks have told me that they have a stellar tenderloin, so I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed.

Rick and Zekes

This is a very large sandwich, but not pounded out too thin. The meat is moist and tender, and the breading is quite good! It’s nice and crisp, and it stays that way throughout the life of the sandwich. It was served on the standard bun, and dressed as I requested. One downside ­ they use diced onions instead of sliced onion, which is my preference. The bun was plain, and wasn’t toasted.

I’ll come short of saying this is one of the best tenderloins in the Indy area, but I WILL say it is well above average. I’ll give it 4 out of 5 bites and wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.

Zeke’s Hot Chicken is located at 1315 S Rangeline road in Carmel, Indiana. You can find them online at http://www.zekeshotchicken.com

OB’s Pub, Indianapolis

I love a good dive bar. OB’s pub certainly fits this description!

OBs outside

Located in a nondescript strip center on the East side of Indy, OB’s is everything a dive bar should be. It’s dimly lit, the paint isn’t the freshest, the carpet is frayed around the edges. The TVs seem to rotate between game shows (The Price is Right was showing when I was there for lunch) and sports, there are a couple of dart boards, and, most of all, it’s friendly.

I was meeting a writer there for lunch who is writing a series of articles on regional foods, and this was a good place to meet her and give her a glimpse of Hoosier hospitality.

Our waitress (who could have been anywhere between 40 and 80) was friendly, and since we were taking pictures of our food and keeping copious notes, she (and several of the regulars) were quite interested in what we were doing.

But I digress. We’re here to discuss the tenderloin.

OBs loin

It appears to be hand breaded. It’s cut a little thinner than I prefer, and the meat, while decent tasting, I found to be a little dry. The breading was nice and crunchy, and stayed that way through the life of the sandwich. There was a small issue with the breading…it was quite salty. Although I didn’t mind it, I think it probably would be too salty for a lot of folks. Also, there was a seasoning in the breading that I didn’t quite recognize, and after discussing it a little bit, we think it was lemon pepper. It gave it a different flavor…not bad, mind you, but a little unexpected. I think with a little less salt, the lemon pepper could have taken this from an average sandwich to a stellar one.

The sandwich was served dressed as I requested, and was served cut into two pieces, which was a nice touch! Since it was a quite a large sandwich, I had 1/2 on this day and 1/2 the next day for lunch.

All in all, it was a pretty decent sandwich. Not stellar, but decent. I’d order it again, but, honestly, there are several other things I’d order first just to try them. I’ll rate it a 3.5 out of 5 bites, just a shade above average.

OB’s pub is located at 2102 N Mitthoeffer Road in Indianapolis, I was unable to located a website or Facebook page for them.

Cobblestone Grill, Zionsville, Indiana

One of the things I really enjoy doing is talking about tenderloins to other foodies, and last week I had the chance to do that.

My wife, Holly, and I, met Jolene Ketzenberger at the Cobblestone Grill in Zionsville for dinner, to talk tenderloins. Jolene is a food writer and restaurant critic, and you might have seen her work at http://www.eatdrinkindy.com or on Thrillist, or heard on on WFYI or seen her on the morning show “Indy Style”. She’s certainly worth a follow on twitter.

Cobblestone Front

The Cobblestone is an upscale restaurant in the lovely community of Zionsville, located right downtown, it’s long and narrow, and nicely decorated. Take a moment and check out the ceiling fans, which were installed by the local company Fanimation.

Normally, when I do a review, I don’t let the restaurant know that I’m coming, I like for it to be a surprise. However, partly due to the fact we were going to be chatting with the chef, they knew we were coming, so I won’t be rating this one on the bite scale…I’ll just let you know if I’ll get it again or not.:)

Cobblestone Loin

The meat was nicely breaded, and the breading had a nice flavor to it. Personally, I would have preferred a bit more seasoning, still, it was VERY good. The breading was flaky and crisp, and stayed attached to the meat for the life of the sandwich.

The meat itself (locally sourced) was tender and flavorful. It wasn’t quite as moist as some I’ve had in the past, still, it was very good indeed. The bun was nicely toasted and a cut above the average hamburger bun.

So, would I get this sandwich again? Absolutely, in a heartbeat.

For her dinner, Holly chose the special – which was grilled grouper. The side dish offering included several foods that she cannot eat due to allergies, but the chef was able to adjust these restrictions, and the results were delicious! Holly says the fish was simply outstanding, and the broccoli was prepared in a way that she had never tasted – it had a crispy outer texture to it, but was still fully cooked. Amazing!

All in all, a very positive experience. We will certainly be back!

Cobblestone Grill is located at 160 S Main Street in Zionsville, Indiana. You can find them online at http://www.cobblestonegrill.com

Pearl Street Pub, Oldenburg Indiana

PearlSIgnPearl Street Pub is the 3rd of 3 pubs/restaurants in Oldenburg Indiana where I reviewed the tenderloin.

Oldenburg Indiana is a lovely German town, often called the Village of Spires. Ornate church steeples dominate the landscape, and it’s a very historic town. A few unique shops, 3 restaurants, and a great town for photography!

Oldenburg 1

I’ve never been to Bavaria, but I can’t imagine stepping into Pearl Street is much different. Lots of dark wood, people laughing, and just a fun atmosphere.

They have a number of items on their menu, and, of course, I was there to try the hand breaded tenderloin.

Here’s what I learned about tenderloins in Oldenburg. The Brau Haus tenderloin was VERY German influenced. You could really taste the spices, and it was very non­traditional for an Indiana tenderloin.

Wagner’s was very Indiana ­traditional. Just a hint of salt and pepper.

Pearl Street Pub’s falls right in the middle. There are enough German spices that you can taste them, but they aren’t overwhelming. You get the sense of German cooking without going full bore on it. For those who prefer a more traditional Indiana tenderloin with just a little adventure, this is the one for you, in my opinion.

Pearl Loin

The breading was nice and crunchy, and stayed crisp throughout the life of the sandwich.

The meat was good, but was just a tad dry. Not terribly dry, but enough so that I’ll give it a 4 star instead of a 5 star rating.

For her lunch, Holly had fried cod loin and cole slaw. She reported the cod to be tasty, but just a little on the dry side. The cole slaw had more of a vinegar influence than she was expecting, since it was a creamy slaw, and the chop size of the cabbage was a little finer than she prefers. But all in all, a fine lunch.

Here’s a tip. As an appetizer, we had the sweet potato fries with caramel sauce. Trust me, you need to try these.

The Pearl Street Pub is located at 3034 Pearl Street in Oldenburg, Indiana. I couldn’t located a website for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

The Goldfinch Restaurant, Brookville,Indiana

GOldfinch OutsideThe Goldfinch restaurant has been an institution in Brookville, Indiana for quite some time now.  A couple of years ago, it closed for an extended period of time, leaving a void in the Brookville dining scene, and it was welcome news indeed when it reopened under new management/ownership.

The Goldfinch is a large family friendly restaurant.  For some reason, it reminds me of a Bob Evans with a hometown touch…and better food.

They have quite the extended menu with everything from sandwiches to steaks, and just about everything in between.  Of course, fried chicken is king in the Whitewater Valley, and The Goldfinch is no exception.

The Godlfinch has a quite large Sunday brunch buffet.  Holly and I were able to have it one time, and it rivals any big city brunch that I can think of.  Really outstanding.

Our friends had recommended that I try the breaded tenderloin, so that’s exactly what I did.

Goldfinch Loin

As you can see, this is a VERY large and hearty sandwich.  The breading is nice and flaky, and the meat, while not as tender as some I’ve ‘had recently, was still very good.  I do think the breading could have used a bit more seasoning, but it is still well above average.

One of the folks in our dining party had a pot roast melt sandwich and it looked and smelled fantastic.  Even though as a small town restaurant, their staple is the basics…fried chicken, fried fish, burgers, it looks like they’re not afraid to take chances with daily specials.

For her dinner, Holly had a grilled chicken breast and a baked potato – she’s keeping it simple these days.  She reported the grilled chicken to be a generous portion – juicy and flavorful.  She said the baked potato seemed to be a little over cooked, as the skin was tough.

As I said, this is a very good sandwich.  It misses that little something that would make it a 5 star sandwich, but I’ll still give it 4 out of 5 bites.  I would not hesitate to order it again.

The Goldfinch is located at 11161 US 52 in Brookville, Indiana.  It doesn’t appear they have a website, but they do have a Facebook page.

Wagner’s Village Inn, Oldenburg Indiana

Oldenburg Indiana is known for two things…its beautiful churches and fried chicken.

Having attended hundreds (or more) church pitch in dinners in my lifetime, I know, firsthand, that nothing goes together like church and chicken.

And, even though this is my 2nd stop on the Oldenburg dining tour, I’ve yet to sample the fried chicken. That’s next on my list.

WagnersWagner’s is your typical small town restaurant/bar combination. Warm, inviting, and friendly, when you walk in the atmosphere welcomes you like a friend, whether it’s your first time here or you’re a seasoned regular.

Make no mistake about it, fried chicken is king at Wagner’s, but they have a nice menu of other things…sandwiches, burgers, and more.

They offer a hand breaded tenderloin, and I knew in a heartbeat that was what I was going to get.

IMG_20160313_140843_018This tenderloin is top notch! There are a couple of things that I like about it. First, it’s not so large as to be overwhelming. It’s a hearty meal, to be sure, but you won’t leave feeling overstuffed.

Sometimes, in the food world, that attitude has become “bigger is better”, but this is a perfect example that this isn’t always the case.

Secondly, the breading. This is as fine a breading as I’ve tasted in a while. Very nice and crispy with just a hint of seasoning. It’s the perfect complement to a tender and moist cut of meat.

The sandwich was served on a typical bun, and dressed as requested. I chose fries as my side. They were good, but pretty standard fries…nothing quite set them apart.

For her dinner, my wife chose the grilled chicken platter with two sides – fries and cole slaw. The grilled chicken was a little dry, but the cole slaw was good. We will definitely return to enjoy the family style fried chicken dinner – that seems to be their specialty, and definitely the way to go!

Here’s a tip for you….for dessert, they have homemade cobbler. The day we were they had peach and blackberry. It’s OUTSTANDING cobbler and I highly recommend topping your meal off with a serving.

Wagner’s is located at 22171 Main Street in Oldenburg, Indiana. I was unable to locate a website or official Facebook page for them.