Merk’s family dining is located at the Muncie airport, and is a relatively new addition to the area.
The Muncie airport has been home to a number of restaurants. Many years ago, there was one called the Kitty Hawk, and later, Vince’s Gallery. Both of these restaurants were fairly upscale dining, and seemed to have long, full runs at the airport.
The changing economic climate in Muncie has made the restaurant business tough. If you drive up and down McGalliard Road, the main East/West thoroughfare on the north side, you’ll find chain restaurant after chain restaurant, from fast food joints to places like Red Lobster, Chili’s, and more. These always seem to thrive for some reason, while smaller Mom and Pop places struggle to survive. That’s a subject better left for a separate blog post.
We’d heard about Merk’s, and because we were in town to play some music at Minnetrista, decided to make this our lunch stop.
The decor is an interesting mix of 70’s and 80’s colors, and there seems to be a lot of neon. I wouldn’t call it “gaudy”, but they’ve certainly done well to establish their own identity in a building that was occupied by other restaurants, which is no easy task.
In reading previous reviews of the restaurant, it seems there have been some ongoing service issues here, and our visit was no different. We arrived a bit before noon, and two other couples were in line waiting to be seated ahead of us. We were all gathered in a somewhat cramped waiting area, and we waited…and waited, and waited some more. I was just about to suggest to Holly we go try somewhere else, when a young lady stuck her head around the corner and said “I’ll be right with you” and in a few minutes came and started seating us.
Honestly, I had expected the restaurant to be packed, because of the extended wait for a seat, but it wasn’t……there were only a few tables dining. It was an interesting moment in our visit.
Our first server (I’m not really sure who our server was, we had 3 different folks come and deliver food, take order, etc.) brought our menus and a drink. We perused the menu, and it appears that breakfast is king here. There are also a lot of sandwich options on the menu, a couple of steaks, and reviews I have read absolutely rave about their pizza.
I, of course, wanted to try the tenderloin. I asked the server if they hand bread their tenderloins, and she replied that they don’t do it in house someone else does it. I asked it if it was a real tenderloin or a fritter, and she didn’t know, but to her credit, she asked, and I was told it was a real tenderloin, so I decided to give it a try.
On the menu, it’s advertised as a “giant” tenderloin. I’m always suspect of that, because sometimes bigger isn’t always better. But, this isn’t really a giant tenderloin, it appears average sized, or maybe even a little smaller. It hangs off the bun, but not too much.
So, how was the taste?
It actually was better than I expected for a premade tenderloin. The breading was nice and crunchy and stayed that way throughout the life of the sandwich. It was indeed a real piece of meat, not a fritter, and the meat was tasty and moist. The breading was nicely seasoned, but just a touch salty. If a sandwich is too salt for me, its likely WAY too salty for everyone else, because I REALLY like salt.
I’m a little torn on how to rate this sandwich, but in the end I’m going to give it 3 out of 5 bites, it’s not bad. An added bonus is that the sandwich was served dressed as I requested, and the bun wan nicely toasted.
Unfortunately, the service issues continued throughout our meal. I ordered the fries with the sandwich for an upcharge, but got chips instead. In their defense, they didn’t charge me for the fries.
For her lunch, Holly chose the pulled pork platter – which included a sandwich, coleslaw and fries. She ordered this particular sandwich assuming that it would be meat and sauce mixed together. The menu didn’t really specify either way. It came out as a plain meat sandwich with a generous spoonful of sauce on top. Holly’s personal preference is that if the meat and sauce are presented separately, they should be served that way. It gives the diner the opportunity to taste the meat first and decide how much sauce, if any, is desired. That being said, enough of the meat didn’t have sauce so that she could taste it. The meat was moist, but not very flavorful. The sauce was a bit on the sweet side, and pretty bland. Offering an optional hot or mustard based sauce would be a welcomed addition. The platter of coleslaw and fries were very good.
The end of our meal was an interesting experience. A server brought our check, and we told her we’d like to have some dessert. I’m not sure she was expecting that, because it seemed she wanted to clear the table…maybe it was time for her to leave, or something, but it didn’t quite set well with me. I ordered sugar cream pie, Holly, ordered peach pie. Both were average.
After finishing our pie, there was an extended wait to try to get our check, and we finally had to flag another server down to get it.
That all said, I hope Merk’s will pay attention to the multiple reviews from customers pointing out service issues. With decent service, and good, solid, Midwestern food, I can see them doing quite well in Muncie.
Merk’s is located at the Muncie airport, North Walnut Street and Riggin Road in Muncie. Their website is http://www.merksfamilydining.com/