Max and Erma’s, Indianapolis (North)

Max and Erma’s is one of those places I like, but for some reason, I don’t get there very often.
When I read somewhere that they had some new items on their menu, I made a special point to head over there for dinner.A rela tively small chain, most of their restaurants are in the Midwest and East.

In decor, theme, and atmosphere, they remind me of an Applebee’s or Chili’s, but for some reason, I’ve always thought of Max  and Erma’s as more “homey”. To me, some of those other chains seem a bit sterile, and although M&E is a chain, somehow they seem to retain the small down diner feel.

As we perused the menu, I saw they had a “breaded pork cutlet” sandwich.  When I questioned the waitress, she told me it used to be called the  breaded pork tenderloin, but apparently some patrons were confusing it with the pork tenderloin dinner, so they changed the name.  So, I decided to give it a try.


As you can see, it’s a nice sized sandwich, with some heft to it, but it’s not overwhelming.  That’s a big plus in my book. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know that,to me, bigger is NOT always better.  I like the size of this sandwich…a nice meal, without leaving you bloated.

The breading is really, really good.  It’s nice and crunchy, and it has a VERY good flavor, and  it retains a nice  crunch without getting soggy through the life of the sandwich. The breading is certainly a 5 out of 5.

The meat itself?  Not so much.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t especially good.  It was a bit more dry, more bland, more tough than a truly stellar tenderloin. I do want to be very fair…it wasn’t bad meat….it just wasn’t enough to send it over the top.  It certainly downgraded my score for the sandwich.

The bun was nicely toasted, however, I asked for only ketchup, mayo, and onion,and the sandwich had lettuce on it. When a customer asks for a sandwich served a certain way, please, serve it that way.  And, as you can tell by the photo, they skimped on the onion.

All that said, it was a decent sandwich.  I’m going to give it a 3.5 out of 5…just a hair above average.

Holly ordered the lunch portion of the Caribbean Chicken dinner.  It comes with herb rice and broccoli, and she said both were very good – but you can substitute from their sides menu for no extra charge.

The service was prompt  and  friendly, our drinks were kept refilled, and it was overall a very good experience.  We won’t wait so long for our next visit. I might even try the tenderloin again to see if I get a better piece of meat.

Max and Erma’s is located at 12195 N Meridian Street in Indianapolis.  You can find them online at


The Trojan Horse, Bloomington Indiana

I was on a quest to find an outstanding breaded tenderloin sandwich in Southern Indiana, and someone recommended the Trojan Horse in Bloomington, so we decided to stop in and give it a try.

My first thought upon walking in was “Wow!  This place is big!!!”, and, indeed, it is.  It’s long and narrow, with an upstairs and a downstairs dining area that is all ages,as  well as a bar upstairs where you have to be 21 to enter.

It’s nicely decorated in what I could call a classy, funky style, perfect for a college town.

We were greeted promptly by our pleasant waitress, and started perusing the menus.  The menu is heavy on Greek food, with some American favorites thrown in.

I asked our waitress about the breaded tenderloin, and she said “we do it in-house” and that certainly was good enough for me.

As you can see by the photo, it’s a nice size without being overwhelming.  It’s not pounded out to paper thin like so many tenderloins, it has a nice thickness. The breading is nice and crunchy, but both the breading and the meat suffered from the same problem….they were just not very flavorful.

And, I don’t quite know how else to put that.  They weren’t bad….they just weren’t good.  There appeared to be no seasoning, and the one word that I can use to describe this sandwich is “bland”. Not terrible, not great…it was just an “ok” sandwich.

I chose the sandwich meal deal for $9.95, which included fries (where were nothing short of outstanding!) and a drink.

Holly also chose the sandwich meal deal, instead of fries she opted for the greek salad, and for her sandwich she chose a Gyro.  She proclaimed both of those as well above average.

The service was very good and the atmosphere is great.  It was pleasantly busy, but we were still able to carry on a conversation without yelling. I’m going to give the Trojan Horse’s breaded tenderloin 3 bites…just average, but I will give the experience a 5…which means we’ll be back.  I’ll  just order something else off of the menu.

The Trojan Horse is located at 100 E Kirkwood in Bloomington, Indiana.  You can find them online at

Golden Gables Restaurant, Bedford, Indiana

This past weekend found us on our way to Mitchell, Indiana for the Persimmon festival, and I was bound and determined to find a good tenderloin down that way. I remember passing the Golden Gables restaurant on our way to Orleans, Indiana for a performance at the Dogwood Festival, and I had wondered if it was any good or not.

The first thing I noticed upon walking in was just how smoky the restaurant was…as a working musician, I’ve played in my share of smoky bars,and th is was just as smoky…if not more…than the worst of them.  However, we had already been seated and had our drinks, so we decided to tough it out.

They had giant breaded tenderloin on the menu, and I asked the waitress if it was good, and she assured me that it was big. That should have been my first warning, but since it was listed as a breaded tenderloin…and they also offered a grilled tenderloin on the menu, I took a chance.


As you can see, this is no tenderloin.  It was a straight out of the box pork fritter, passed off as a breaded tenderloin…a huge no-no in my book. Yes, it was edible, but that’s about all I can say about it.  Since it technically was edible, I’ll give it a 1 out of 5.

Wendi ordered the catfish and it was….well, she described it as tasting “muddy”.  Holly chose the baked boneless, skinless chicken breast with dressing…a nice healthy choice, however, it was slathered in some kind of gravy.  All of it..the chicken, the dressing,everything.  It would’ve been nice to have stated that on the menu,for those who were looking for a bit of a healthier choice.

The service turn sour very quickly.  The server was right there to take our order, but pretty quickly forgot all about us. Holly was brought the wrong salad dressing, however, to ask for it to be exchanged for what she requested seemed like it would have been a major issue, so she chose just to leave it as it was.

But, perhaps all was not lost!  We were told that this place had the best pie in the state, and on their sign they proudly proclaimed “Persimmon Pudding”!! Maybe we could salvage this meal after all!  So we waited for our waitress to return so we could order some of that famous pie.  And persimmon pudding. And we waited.  And waited,  And waited, to no avail, so we paid our check and left.

All said, this was one of the most disappointing dining experiences we’ve ever had.  Poor food and poor service all wrapped in one package.
I gave the sandwich a 1….I’ll give the overall experience a 0 out of 5.  We certainly won’t return.

We did figure out where the name “Golden Gables” came from though….all the nicotine stains in the ceiling.

Golden Gables is located at the intersection of US 37 and US 50, just south of Bedford, Indiana

Bubbaz Bar and Grill, Indianapolis. (Shadeland Avenue Location)

I’ve been vaguely aware of Bubbaz Bar and Grill in the past, having driven by it a time our two.
This week, we had the chance to meet our friend Richard Propes for dinner, and this seemed like a good choice, as it was near his office, and we wanted an early dinner so we’d have some time to prepare for a weekend trip.

Bubbaz has a few locations around town, we chose the one on North Shadeland avenue.  Upon walking in, I thought “this is bigger than it looks like!!”. There are 3 somewhat distinct areas…the bar, a small dining area, and then in the back an area with pool tables and dart boards. There are TVs turned to sports channels all around, but the volume was turned down fairly low, so carrying on a normal conversation wasn’t a problem at all.

I’m going to say, right off, I was surprised at how pleasant the atmosphere was here.  Fancy?  no.  Elite?  Oh, HECK no.  Run down and a dive?  Not exactly. For me, it hit the perfect blend of dive bar and pleasant.  There were folks at the bar having a drink and chatting, and a few folks shooting pool, and we were able to sit and visit with a dear friend in a friendly, neighborhood atmosphere.

I saw on the menu that their tenderloins were served either grilled or breaded, a good sign, so I asked our waitress “Is it a frozen pork fritter, or a REAL tenderloin?”, and she replied…”It IS frozen, but it’s NOT a fritter”.

So I ordered it, not holding out much hope.  I full expected to get a pre-made fritter.  As you can see, this looks like a hand breaded, fresh tenderloin.


Let’s face it…nothing beats a fresh tenderloin, pounded and breaded on the spot.  But I was pleasantly surprised at just how good this frozen tenderloin was. The breading was nice and crunchy, the meat, while not what I would call outstanding, was pretty darn good.  The bun was nicely toasted, and they weren’t selfish with their condiments… I got plenty of onions, as is my preference.  I’m probably a bit generous here, but I’m going to give this a 4 out of 5 bites. It’s not the best in town, but it’s far better than what many restaurants pass off as a breaded tenderloin.  It’s above average and I wouldn’t hesitate to get it again. I did neglect to get the price, but it was around $8.00 with fries (although I chose onion rings), pretty much in line with the rest of the tenderloins in town.

Holly chose the wings, and they were VERY good, and the french fries were WAY above average.

However, we did have a bit of a disappointment in our visit.  After we finished our meal, we sat and visited for a bit…not a long time, but we did linger. Our drinks sat empty.  When our waitress finally asked if we were ready for our check she brought it, and we waited. And waited.  And waited…and finally gave up and went up to the bar to pay. The service before and during the meal was very good…but after the meal it was substandard.  Hopefully it’ll be better next time.

Speaking of our friend Richard Propes, he is also a blogger and reviewer.  Please take a moment and check out his site…and

Bubbaz is located at 7526 N Shadeland in Indianapolis.

Hav a Bite Diner, Metamora, Indiana

We are fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time in and around Metamora, Indiana throughout the year, and during our trek up and down Highway 52, we’ve passed the Hav a Bite restaurant several times. I’ve noticed that their sign proudly proclaims “hand breaded tenderloins” as one of their specialities, so, finding ourselves there at lunchtime, I knew that a review was in order.

The Hav a Bite is a wonderfully quaint diner, and the walls are nicely decorated with art depicting Metamora’s past. There is a nice mix of sketches and photos, and I took a moment to wander around just soaking in the atmosphere. Although Metamora is mostly known as a tourist town  (at least that’s my perception), this certainly seems to be the place that the locals eat. That’s always a good sign.  People were in there, seated in small groups, discussing everything from religion to politics to weather to quilting…it was really nice to set and just soak in the atmosphere of a small town diner.

We took a look at the menu, and were quite surprised at the prices.  A breaded tenderloin sandwich was $3.50, the jumbo, $5.00. Add a couple of bucks and you can make it a platter, with cole slaw and fries (or another side).  It was certainly reasonable enough.

When it came time to order, I told the waitress that I wanted the jumbo platter.  She said  “Are you SURE?  It’s a BIG sandwich…”.   I replied  “Yes…I’m sure”.


Well, as you can see from the photo…it IS indeed a big sandwich.  Perhaps the largest I’ve ever encountered.  And, as you can see, it truly is hand breaded. And, as is my preference, it’s not only big, but it’s thick, also.  (I am resisting the urge to add “That’s what she said” here). I could go on and on about this sandwich, but I’ll just say this.  The meat is tender, moist, and juicy, and the breading is outstanding. The breading even has just the slightest hint of a “kick” to it.  Man, oh man, this is one good sandwich. This one goes in the 5 out of 5 bites hall of fame, and it’s well worth the drive, no matter where you’re coming from.

And, I hate to admit it….but I couldn’t finish it.  Next time, I’ll get the regular sized.

The sandwich was dressed as I ordered, our drinks were kept topped off, and the staff was friendly and gracious.

Holly ordered a cheeseburger and her comment was  “You can sure tell it’s homemade”…no fast food burgers here!

We both ordered platter, which included cole slaw, and we both agree, it’s among the best…if not THE best…cole slaw we’ve ever had. However…we were less than impressed with the french fries.  We’ll choose another side next time…and, yes, there WILL be a next time.  The Hav A Bite has certainly earned our repeat business.

The Hav A Bite is located at 19121 US Highway 52 in Metamora, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a web page for them.