Savage’s Ale House, Muncie, Indiana

Savages frontSavage’s Ale House is a fairly new pub/restaurant in downtown Muncie.  Downtown Muncie has seen a resurgence of bars and eateries lately, and it’s good to see some activity in my old hometown’s downtown.

It’s in an old building with a LOT of character.  Hardwood floors, pressed tin ceilings, and more.  When we entered, we noticed there are 3 dining areas, the main room with the bar, and two smaller rooms.

We arrived about 1130 and it was hopping.  The main dining room was filled, and we weren’t sure exactly where to set.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  There were two servers working, and I caught the eye of each of them, but they went about their business, and left us standing.  After a lengthy wait, one of them told us to sit anywhere we pleased.

Just a word to those of you who own or manage restaurants, and I know that more than a few read this blog.  If someone comes into your establishment, the first minute or two are pretty much make or break for a new customer.   Honestly, those minutes being ignored had quite the impact on my impression of Savage’s.

Once we were seated, the service was fine.  Prompt and friendly, I wouldn’t call it outstanding but it was OK.

The menu consists of pretty standard bar fare…tenderloins, burgers, a wrap or two, a Reuben, etc.  I, of course, chose the breaded tenderloin.

Ale House Tenderloin

Looks good, doesn’t it!  The breading was a classic tempura batter – nice and crispy, and stayed that way through the life of the sandwich.  The meat was tender and juicy.

But there was one problem.  None of it had much flavor.  The texture was fine, even outstanding, but the flavor just wasn’t there.  It seemed devoid of any seasoning, and if I could describe this sandwich in one word, it would be “bland”.  I’m going to give it a 3 out of 5, just an average sandwich.

For our sides, we chose the side salads.  I was a little taken aback at how expensive the side salad was  (4.50) but it was quite a large salad, and a nice mix of greens, olives, and more.  The Blue Cheese dressing was tasty and plentiful.  High marks for their salad.

For her entree, Holly chose the veggie wrap – which consists of Chipotle black bean crumbles, guacamole, shredded cheddar jack cheese, lettuce, jalapeno, onion, and tomato in a grilled flour tortilla.  Holly reports that this is one of the best tasting wraps she’s ever had, and she would not hesitate to order it again!

As a side note, when we received our check, we noticed something very different than we have seen in the past.  The menu prices all include sales tax.  So when we received our final bill, it was the grand total amount due.  The only thing we had to figure out was how much to leave for a tip.

Savage’s Ale House is located at 127 N High Street in Muncie, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a website for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

The Chicken Inn, Shelbyville, Indiana

My wife and I have been past The Chicken Inn a few times when in Shelbyville, but it had never been at mealtime, so we’ve not had the chance before now.

CHicken Inn SignThe Chicken Inn is your quintessential small town diner…warm, cozy, and it seems everyone knows each other by name. Even though we aren’t local, our server (whose name I neglected to get) greeted us with a smile, and was as pleasant with us as she was with the folks she knew by name. We were off to a good start!

I’m not sure how long the Chicken Inn has been there…quite some time, I believe, but I think it was something else before its current incarnation. It appears to be an older Pizza Hut building, but I’m not sure.

Their menu is all home cookin’. Fried chicken, breaded tenderloins, and walleye, which seems to be their specialty.

They have a hand cut and hand breaded tenderloin, so, of course, that’s what I selected. It’s available it two sizes, a smaller one, and a large one. I opted for the smaller one, and it was plenty big to satisfy even my hearty appetite!

CS tenderloin

It was a little thinner than I prefer, but I DO realize that is a matter of personal preference. The meat itself was fine…not great, not bad, just average. The breading was a nice ratio to the meat, but…the breading was very bland. It wasn’t bad breading, there was just not much flavor to it.

The sandwich was served dressed as I requested it. Honestly….I was expecting more out of the sandwich. After I finished it, I was left with the feeling that it was just average. That’s what I’ll rate it, 3 out of 5, just average. If you’re not a fan of seasoning, and prefer a thinner tenderloin, you’ll like it. Otherwise, you probably won’t.

There were some VERY bright spots in our meal. The broasted potatoes I chose for my side were simply amazing. A big bonus is Sugar Cream Pie for dessert, and it was a VERY generous slice of pie.

For her lunch, Holly had a walleye sandwich. Walleye is their feature on Fridays, and we noticed several people coming in to buy it – with good reason: Holly reports the walleye to be incredibly good! Tender and flaky, and full of flavor. They brought out tartar sauce, but honestly, this walleye does not need it! For lunch, you can either get a sandwich and one side for $5.75, or filets with two sides for $7.75. And at dinner on Fridays, they feature all you can eat walleye for $12.95. Holly had the broasted potatoes for her side as well, and gives them two thumbs up!

Even though the tenderloin was less than outstanding, I was quite impressed with the service and the rest of the food. It’s on our list of places to visit when we find ourselves back in Shelbyville!

The chicken inn is located at 541 E Hendricks in Shelbyville, Indiana. I was unable to find a website for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

The Brau Haus, Oldenburg, Indiana

Brau

The Brau Haus is an institution in Southeast Indiana (and beyond, actually), and folks come from far and wide to Oldenburg to dine here.

Speaking of Oldenburg, if you’ve not visited this town, grab your camera and head down I-74 and pay it a visit.  It’s a small town, but it’s a photographer’s paradise.

The Brau Haus is located on a side street in Oldenburg, with a modest sign out front.   If you’ve not been there before, you’ll likely have to seek it out, but there are only a few streets in Oldenburg so it won’t be a problem.

Like many restaurants I’ve visited recently, it’s quite a bit larger on the inside than it appears.  There are several rooms…there’s a German themed room, a local sports room, a bar, and a large family/banquet room.  Each room has its own decor and personality.

We were seated promptly, and greeted by our server, Pat.  Pat did a great job of explaining the menu and giving us some history of the restaurant.  We started with an appetizer of sauerkraut balls, and let me tell you, these are amazing.  I’m not quite sure what all was in them…and they keep the recipe a secret, but I highly recommend them.

If you know anything about dining in Southeast Indiana, you already know that fried chicken is king.  The Brau Haus is famous for their fried chicken (every restaurant in the area seems to make that claim), but I had my heart set on the hand breaded tenderloin.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Brau Loin

The meat is nice and moist, with a VERY good flavor.  Being a German restaurant…the breading is not quite traditional…you can definitely taste the pepper and the German influence in the spices.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but I must say, I was sold at the first bite.  It’s an absolutely incredible sandwich….5 out of 5, no doubt in my mind.  Please keep in mind, though, it’s not quite traditional.  For my side, I chose the potato pancakes, and, all I can say, is WOW!!  I could make a full meal out of those alone.

For her dinner, Holly chose the Rachel, which is a Reuben with turkey instead of corned beef.  Their turkey is smoked, which gives it a really good flavor.  And instead of the traditional Thousand Island dressing you’ll get on a Reuben, this Rachel has a chipotle dressing, and it complements the smoked turkey quite nicely!  She also had the potato pancakes as her side, and enjoyed them immensely!

The Brau Haus is located at 22170 Water Street in Oldenburg, Indiana.  You can find their website at http://www.oldenburgbrauhaus.com/

at 22170 Water Street in Oldenburg, Indiana.  You can find their website at http://www.oldenburgbrauhaus.com/

The Oasis Diner, Plainfield, Indiana

Oasis Diner

As an entertainer, I get to travel a fair amount.  When I’m looking for a unique dining experience, the main things I look for are a locally owned restaurant, great food, and if there is a sense of history, that’s an added bonus.

Our friends, the Kerns, invited us to join them for dinner at the Oasis diner, which sets right on the National Road (US40) in Plainfield, Indiana.  The Oasis Diner is a restored 1950’s diner, manufactured in New Jersey, I believe.  It used to set further East in Plainfield, but recently, it was relocated, restored, and reopened on the Western edge of Plainfield.

Replete with diner decor and fantastic neon lighting, the Oasis takes you back from the moment you step through the door.  It’s like stepping back to the days of Bobby Darin, Elvis, and pegged pants.

Although the menu is heavy on traditional diner fare (burgers, shakes, and such), there are a few surprises on the menu.  They seemed to have taken their menu above and beyond, and are a welcome addition to the Indianapolis area restaurant scene.

I already had my mind made up when we arrived…I was trying the hand breaded tenderloin sandwich.

Oasis Tenderloin

Let me tell you, it was fantastic.  Light, crispy breading with just the right amount of seasoning.  The seasoning complimented the taste of the meat and breading without overwhelming it.  The meat itself was tender and moist, with a fantastic flavor.

I neglected to check to see what kind of bun it was on, but it wasn’t your ordinary hamburger bun…it was quite tasty, and yet another compliment to an already fantastic sandwich.  This sandwich is 5 stars, all the way…absolutely no question about it.

For my side, I chose fries, and they were good, but nothing special.  I’ll probably try the onion rings next time.

As an aside…they offer a breaded tenderloin with gravy on their breakfast menu, which is what David had.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had one with gravy, but that may be my next order there.

For her dinner, Holly chose the Sriracha Shrimp Wrap, which consists of a serving of Honey Sriracha fried shrimp, lettuce, onion, tomato, cilantro, and ranch, all rolled up in a large flour tortilla.  As her side, she chose the broccoli with cheese.  Holly reports the Honey Sriracha shrimp to be very tasty – there is just a hint of honey, but you can definitely tell it’s there.  She said she could not detect the cilantro at all, and the ranch dressing was just enough to tie it all together – not too little, not too much. The broccoli was cooked perfectly – al dente all the way!  She wasn’t a big fan of the cheese sauce.  It was okay, but she said she’d rather have had just a plain bowl of steamed broccoli.

This was an extremely positive experience.  The service was great, the food was outstanding, and I LOVE the atmosphere.  We will certainly be back, and soon!  And, take this tip…try the Butterscotch Root Beer, which is locally brewed.

The Oasis Diner is located at 405 W Main Street, in Plainfield, Indiana.  Their website is http://www.oasisdiner.com/  and you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Great Tenderloin Throwdown, Greensburg, Indiana

This past Saturday, I was honored to be a judge for the Tenderloin Throwdown, in Greensburg, Indiana.
This is the 2nd year for the event, but my first year judging.  Part street fair, part food competition, this event has food booths, crafts, a sidewalk art contest, live music, and more.  Let me state that it was a VERY well put together  (and attended) event!  I enjoyed myself a LOT, and plan to go back next year, whether I’m judging or not.

I’m not going to rate the tenderloins, instead, I’ll go do a real review of them, one by one,  Instead, I’m just going to post a few pictures of the event.
Greensburg is a small town in Southeast, Indiana, most well known for the tree growing out of the courthouse!

Courthouse

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There are some lovely old Churches in town, it’s a lovely town to just go stroll in!

Church

One of the artisans on site was a chainsaw carver.  I REALLY enjoyed watching him work.

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There was also a sidewalk art competition, that was fascinating to watch unfold!

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Lines at every food booth having tenderloins….this is Union Jacks, who made the trip down from Indianapolis.

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Hand breaded, then coming out of the fryer.

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It was a VERY hot day, so folks were taking advantage of the shade.

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Here’s a grandfather and grandson enjoying the live music.

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And, what better treat after a tenderloin than ice cream?

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Have a Bite Diner, Metamora, Indiana

havabite front

The Hav a Bite diner is your typical small town diner located on State Road 52 in Metamora, Indiana.
I had reviewed the Hav a Bite a few years ago, but it had since closed and sat vacant for a year or so, and recently re-opened under new ownership, so we thought we’d give they a try.

As is typical with most small town diners, there are a LOT of locals who the servers know by name.  It was evident when we entered that a lively conversation among the regulars was going on.  We were unsure whether to seat ourselves, or if we were to be seated.  I caught a server’s eye, and still didn’t have a clue, so we made our way to a table.

I know more than a few restaurant owners read my blog, so here’s a hint to you.  When someone comes into your restaurant, you only have a few brief moments to make a good impression.  That impression will likely stay with customers long after they leave your establishment, no matter the quality of the meal.

You probably are picking up that we didn’t feel especially welcome when we first entered the restaurant, and that is exactly the case.  After we seated ourselves and our server came to the table, the service was fine, but that first impression still lingered.

havabite loin

I ordered the breaded tenderloin, which is hand breaded.  Upon looking at it, I thought, “This looks like a fritter”, but I’m happy to report that it wasn’t.  It was a nice piece of meat with good flavor.

Unfortunately, the breading was quite bland, and probably detracted a bit from the taste of the meat, as opposed to adding to it.  Don’t get me wrong….it wasn’t a BAD sandwich…it just wasn’t an especially good one.  I’d call it average…3 out of 5 bites.

The sandwich was served as I requested, and for my side I chose onion rings, which were quite good.

For her dinner, Holly chose the pulled pork bbq sandwich.  Holly reports that this is her “go-to” entree when she goes to a restaurant and can’t make a decision about what to have from the menu.  This is a pretty good one…well-balanced meat and sauce, and not too sweet or vinegary.

I’m left with mixed emotions about the Hav a Bite.  I really DO want to support small, locally owned businesses, but I also realize I work hard for my money and expect a good experience when I spend it.  Nevertheless, I’ll likely give them another try, but I won’t likely order the tenderloin.

The Hav a Bite is located on State Road 52 in Metamora, Indiana.  I was unable to find a website or Facebook page for them.

The Farmhouse Restaurant, Metamora, Indiana

farmhouse4

The Farmhouse Restaurant is a new, farm to table restaurant in historic Metamora, Indiana.
Before I start the review, I want to state up front that the owners of the restaurant and her parents are friends of ours.  I believe I can still do an honest review, but I won’t rate on the traditional bite scale because of that.

The Farmhouse is located in an old, restored house on the north side of the canal in Metamora.  Upon entering, I was taken by how light, airy, and open it is.  It’s decorated with a smattering of antiques here and there, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.

They have a decent sized menu, especially for a small town restaurant, and everything is prepared fresh with the bulk of it being locally sourced.  They obviously take great care in providing food that is prepared just like grandma used to make.

We’d been there for breakfast a few times (I HIGHLY recommend the sausage and apples) before our schedule allowed us to have lunch there.  When I saw they had a breaded tenderloin, I had to try it.
FarmhouseTenderloin

The sandwich is obviously hand made.  The meat was pounded out just a tad thinner than I prefer, but it wasn’t paper thin. It was a moist and tasty piece of meat!
The breading was wonderful.  I liked it even more when I found out that the breading is made from cornmeal ground at the historic gristmill located right on the canal in Metamora!! The breading was nicely seasoned and the sandwich was just the right size. Not TOO big, but still a hearty meal.

There are a few sides available.  We chose the broccoli cauliflower salad.  I’m not much of a salad guy….but let me tell you, this was amazing!

This is a great tenderloin sandwich.  I certainly would not hesitate to order it again!

The farmhouse restaurant is located at 19049 Clayborne Street in Metamora, Indiana.  I was unable to find a website for them, but their Facebook page is located at http://www.facebook.com/TheFarmhouseBnB