Have you ever been to a restaurant so far out in the remote parts of the county that someone had to take you the first time so you could find it? And when you finally arrive, it looks more like someone’s garage or multi-purpose building, situated between two houses, than it does a restaurant? This is what it’s like when you visit Chad’s, the best kept secret in Lawrence county, Indiana.
Chad Hillenburg has worked as a cook at various restaurants in Lawrence county over the years, but he and his family have settled into running their own restaurant, convenience store, and bait shop for several years. Yes, you read that right. The store is also a bait shop, but the bait is sold from a refrigerator out front – there is a sign posted that clearly says bait is not allowed to be brought into the restaurant.
As you walk into Chad’s, you are shocked by how small it really is. The place can seat about 20 people, 14 of which would be sitting elbow-to-elbow at a long table down the middle of the restaurant. I’ve been there when we were sitting with folks we didn’t know when we got there, but we knew them better before we left!
While you take in the restaurant, you will undoubtedly be drawn to studying the wide array of convenience store items that line one wall. In addition to typical items (paper towels, pop-tarts, bottles of pop) you can also purchase a fishing pole, a car battery, or a greeting card!
Now that you know have a sense of the restaurant, let’s get to the ‘meat’ of the matter – the breaded tenderloin sandwich (sorry, but the pun was just too tempting). To be honest, I’m not much of a tenderloin fan. Those words might make the Tenderloin Connoisseur second guess his offer that I write a guest review, but I admit to my lackluster feelings of tenderloins to convey the quality of the sandwich Chad prepares. I’ve visited Chad many times (weekly for most of this summer) and almost invariably, I order the tenderloin sandwich. Outside of Chad’s, I honestly cannot remember the last time I ate a tenderloin. But do you know what? I don’t think I could ever eat a tenderloin someplace else because Chad has set the bar so high.
As the picture shows, the sandwich is a beast. Many times, I only manage to eat half of the sandwich (and can then enjoy the other half for lunch the following day). In the case of this particular sandwich, I started eating it by pulling off the parts hanging off the bun. This took considerable time and when I finally got down to a bun-sized sandwich I could pick up, I wasn’t sure I would eat it all. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I wanted to give this review 110%. I was miserably full the rest of the evening, but enjoying the tenderloin, the delicious home made potato chips, three cups of sweet iced tea, and a brownie sundae might also have contributed to my post-Chad’s misery.
As I think back to when I have eaten tenderloins in my pre-Chad’s days, my recollection is they are generally pounded flat, have very little flavor, and subsequently need condiments to give them some flavor. This is not the case at Chad’s. His tenderloin is a thick cut of pork and has a breading on it that’s neither too hard nor too soft – it’s just right (baby bear would love it). It is tender, full of flavor, and a delightful treat for the tastebuds.
If you find yourself in Lawrence county, craving an awesome tenderloin, give me a call. I’d be glad to show you the way.
Chad’s is located at 7917 Bartletsville Road, Heltonville, Indiana, 47436
***This review comes from my friend and fellow Geocacher Steve Booker….you can find him in my friends list on Facebook.