Trailhead Brewery, St Charles, Missouri.

I’ve been wondering if microbreweries were as popular in other parts of the country as they are where we live (Indianapolis) and it appears they are! We made a whirlwind stop in St Charles, MO on our way to Kansas City.

In historic St Charles, there are a number of restaurants and breweries. It’s really a nice town to wander around and explore. We highly recommend it if you’re in the area!

Trailhead brewing has been around for a few years. It’s located just off the KATY trail, a wonderful hiking/cycling trail that runs along the Missouri River. Trailhead is a quite large building, and it appears they have several different dining rooms and looks like it would be a great place for a group outing.

We were seated and I saw that they brew their own root beer, a huge bonus for me! I asked about it, and our capable server told us it’s not your typical root beer…it’s not carbonated. That’s something I’ve never heard of before, but I REALLY liked it. It’s got a nice, distinctive vanilla flavor, with a more subtle root beer undertone. If you’re used to more traditional root beer, it’ll be a change, but, again, I liked it, and wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.

I didn’t know there was a tenderloin on the menu until we arrived—it just looked like an inviting place to eat. Their menu shows a “Fried Pork Sandwich”, described as a “Seasoned, beer battered tenderloin served on a wheat hoagie, with a side of bbq sauce”.

I REALLY liked the batter. It was extremely crispy, and reminded me of the batter on KFC extra crispy chicken. The sandwich was a nice size to make a hearty meal without being overwhelming. I’ll make note of the wheat hoagie bun–it was tasty, but, honestly, a bit “dense” for my taste. Although I enjoyed the sandwich, I think I’d enjoy it more with a more typical bun.

Since it’s not a typical tenderloin, I’ll not rate it on my typical 1-5 scale, I’ll just say, yes, I’d order it again, but I’d opt for a more traditional bun.

For her dinner, Holly had the smoked chicken quesadilla appetizer (four pieces) and a side salad. She also tried their seasonal beer – Mango Berliner Weisse.

Trailhead brewing is located at 921 S Riverside, St Charles, MO. You can find them onlin at http://www.trailheadbrewing.com

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30 Hop, Coralville Iowa

30 Hop is a fairly new local chain in Eastern Iowa. They have a location in Coralville, Cedar Rapids, and one opening soon in Des Moines.

On their website, they feature craft beer, cocktails, and new American fare.

We visited the Coralville location, as we were staying there for our trip to TrekFest.

This location is located in an area known as Iowa River Landing. Bordered by the Iowa River, it is kind of an open air shopping mall with a number of local/regional restaurants as well as specialty shops and some national stores.

30 Hop has a huge dining room, and outside patio, and a rooftop garden. The day we visited the rooftop garden was not available, probably because it was extremely hot and humid.

The decor is a little more than casual, but I wouldn’t call it classy…. it’s a nice, comfortable, if somewhat upscale, place.

The menu features a lot of really interesting choices, from appetizers to sandwiches to salads. I had heard good things about their tenderloin and decided I wanted to give it a try.

I knew going in that this was not a traditional breaded tenderloin, which is my preference. This particular tenderloin is panko breaded, features pickled onion, jalapeño, pickle slices, and something called “dynamite sauce”.

The meat itself was moist and tender, and I really enjoyed the panko breading. It had a very distinct crunch to it and stayed crunchy throughout the life of the sandwich. This was a little bit of a concern at first, because I was afraid with all the sauces and toppings it would become soggy but I’m happy to report that it did not.

The dynamite sauce had a bit of a kick to it which added another level of flavor to the sandwich. Add to it the pickled onion and jalapeño, this sandwich is a little bit on the hot side, but not unreasonably so, at least to me. I will be fair, and say that I tend to enjoy my food a bit more spicy than a lot of folks seem to.

Since this is not a traditional tenderloin, I’m not going to rate it on a 1 to 5 scale like I typically do. I’m simply going to say that this was an outstanding sandwich, and it was my favorite meal from our trip to Iowa.

You can find it 30 Hop online at www.30hop.com, and also on Facebook and Twitter.

Iowa 80 Kitchen, Walcott, Iowa.

My wife and I were headed out to Riverside, Iowa for Trek Fest in the future home of James T Kirk, and I wanted to try a couple of Iowa tenderloins while in the area.  

The Iowa 80 Kitchen is located inside the World’s Largest Truck Stop. There are a number of fast food type restaurants in the food court, but the Kitchen is a true sit down style restaurant/buffet.  

The restaurant features a pretty large buffet, but there’s also a full menu that you can order from.  Midwestern comfort food is king here…you won’t find anything very adventurous, just good, down home style cooking.  

The menu includes a hand breaded tenderloin, and I was sold.

At first glance, I was suspect.  At first bite, I was sold. The breading was nice and crunchy, and stayed that way for the life of the Sandwich.  The meat was nice and tender, and the breading was seasoned well. Although it’s not quite a 5 star sandwich, I enjoyed it a lot.  I’m giving it 4 out of 5 bites.

The Iowa 80 Kitchen is located at 755 w Iowa 80 road, Walcott, Iowa.  

Madison Grill, Indianapolis

Located at the corner of Madison and Troy, on the southside of Indianapolis, if I could think of one word to describe the Madison Grill, it would be “homey”.

Located in what appears to be what was previously a Sunshine café, the Madison Grill has retain much of the previous decor. In addition to a number of country style prints and paintings, there are photographs of regulars in the front of the restaurant.

It’s obvious this restaurant has a huge local crowd, as most of the waitresses seem to know the customers by name. However, even though we had never been there before, our waitress was friendly and helpful, and we did not feel out of place at all.

The menu is pretty basic, some sandwiches, a steak or two, a few salads, an Italian dish or two and a couple of seafood choices.

I spied a hand breaded tenderloin on the menu and decided I had to try it.

If I could think of a phrase to describe this tenderloin, it would be “not bad”. It was obviously hand breaded, the meat was moist and tender, and the breading, while it could have used a bit more seasoning, was not bad.

I chose fries for my side, and they were decent, but not outstanding.

All in all, this is a decent sandwich, but falls short of stellar. Several in our party ordered several different dishes, and we were all in agreement… It’s a decent, satisfying meal, but nothing pushes it into the outstanding category. I’ll give the sandwich 3 out of 5 bites.

Madison grill is located at the corner of Madison and Troy in Indianapolis, Indiana, and you can find them online at http://www.madisongrillindy.com.

Brockway Public House, Carmel, Indiana

The Brockway Public House, located in Carmel, Indiana, is one of a number of Irish themed pubs in the greater Indy metro area.

Located on a pleasant street in Carmel, it’s sandwiched in with a burger joint, a donut shop, a meatball restaurant, and other pubs/dining places.
We were having an early dinner  (about 430 PM), so had no issues finding a seat.  I understand they do get quite busy later in the evenings, with events like trivia, live music, and more throughout the week.
I noticed their hand breaded tenderloin on the menu, and knew what I was going to get.

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This is a large sandwich, and was quite good, but I think it fell short of stellar for a couple of reasons.  First–the breading sloughed off of the meat.  I’m not quite sure why it didn’t “stick” to the meat, but it just didn’t—a good bit of it just slid off.  Secondly, there was not much seasoning in the breading or meat.  While the taste was good, a little seasoning could’ve made it just stellar.  I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 bites.  Above average, but not outstanding.
For her dinner,  Holly chose the Celtic Salmon Salad.  On their menu it is reported as a house favorite, and Holly agrees!  The salad is classic and pretty basic, but what sets this one apart from others is the house whiskey glazed Bay of Fundy salmon filet.  It was outstanding!
In the interest of fairness, there were a couple of issues  with our visit.  Although there was only one other table occupied, and a couple of folks at the bar, the music was absolutely blaring loud.  Our server  (who was capable, helpful, and personable) had to ask us to repeat our orders because she couldn’t hear us….and I’m not a quiet man.  Secondly, perhaps because of the noise level, the sandwich came out with the wrong toppings,  Those might seem like minor things, but they might be the difference in whether a first time customer becomes a regular.
Brockway Pub is located at 12525 Old Meridian Street in Carmel, Indiana.  You can check them out online at www.brockawaypub.com

Blind Owl Brewery, Indianapolis

Blind Owl exterior

Blind Owl Brewey  is a local micro brewery, located on the north side of Indianapolis, near the intersections of Binford Blvd and 62nd streets.

Located in a strip mall, it’s much larger than I anticipated from the outside.  There are two sides, a family side and a 21 and over side it appears, as well as a spacious patio for outdoor dining in good weather.  There were several TVs mounted on the walls, mostly tuned to sports, but the sound was down and the noise level was quite pleasant.  It was loud enough to make you realize there was activity around, but not so loud at to inhibit conversation.

We’d never been here, so when I spied a breaded tenderloin on the menu, I asked our server if it was breaded on site, and she told me it was, as well as being locally sourced pork.  I was sold.

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I’m going to keep this short and sweet.  This is a fabulous tenderloin.  It stacks up well against any in the metro Indianapolis area—or anywhere, for that matter.  The breading is nicely seasoned, the serving is generous, and the pork itself is tender and moist.  The bun was nicely toasted and only added to an already stellar sandwich.  It certainly merits a rating of 5/5, my highest rating.

For her dinner, Holly chose the blackened fish street tacos – which she also reported to be outstanding.

 

Blind Owl Brewery is located at 5102 E 62nd street in Indianapolis.  You can find them online at   http://www.blindowlbrewery.com/

Riverfont Taproom, Shelbyville, Indiana

 

Riverfront Taproom front

The Riverfront Taproom is a relative newcomer to the Shelbyville  (IN) dining scene.  Situated beside the Blue River, they offer 32 taps of beer and a menu of food.  They are located in a small strip center with a couple of other businesses, and in addition to indoor dining, they offer a very nice patio overlooking the river.

We chose to dine indoors, with it being a rainy, dreary evening.  The indoor dining area is huge, and the first thing we noticed was just how loud it was.  Like—overwhelmingly loud.  Although there were 4 of us seated around a small table, we had a hard time carrying on a conversation at times.  Although the decor is pleasing, if minimal,  they need to do something about the sound level, in my opinion.

I noticed a breaded tenderloin on the menu  (which is a fairly new addition, I believe) and asked our server if they bread them in house, and the server assured me that they did.  So, my choice was made!

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I have to say—this particular tenderloin was a disappointment.  I was ready to have a really good sandwich, but it wasn’t to be.  It seemed overcooked, dry and bland.  Some of the areas of the sandwich were dark, almost burned.  I couldn’t detect any seasoning in the breading  (which COULD be because it was overcooked) and the meat, while it had a good flavor, was quite dry.

In addition,  I requested my sandwich be served with mayo, ketchup, and onion, as I always do.  It was served with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard.  This lack of attention to detail  (Which actually happened to 3 out of our 4 meals on this evening) doesn’t bode well for repeat business.  Since the sandwich was edible, technically, I’ll give it a 2 out of 4 bites. I chose fries for my side, and they were served room temperature.  This meal was pretty much a complete miss all the way around.

For her dinner, Holly chose a grilled chicken breast sandwich without the bun.  And, as with my tenderloin, her order came out fully dressed on a bun, instead of plain as she requested.
Riverfront taproom is located at 530 N Harrison street in Shelbyville, IN.  You can find them online at  https://www.riverfronttaproom.com/