Nickel Plate Bar and Grill, Fishers, Indiana

This is second in a series of reviews for the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and, as such, I won’t be grading on my normal 1-5 bite scale, rather, I’ll simply try to give you an accurate impression of my experience.

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The Nickel Pate Bar and Grill is located in what I would call “old” Fishers, right on 116th street, just West of the Interstate, next to the train tracks and depot.
Those of you who know me as a musician know my affinity for train songs, and train history, so it’s only natural that I love the atmosphere! This isn’t a “cookie cutter” restaurant, they’ve obviously given some thought to the decor, with nice touches of local history and train history, so I felt right at home!

The Nickel Plate has a bar area, as well as a family dining area, so whether you’ve got kids or not, there’s a spot for you.

We were greeted promptly and in a friendly manner by both the hostess and our waitress, and shown to our table. Since we arrived before the dinner rush, we had plenty of seats to choose from.

Nickle Plate seems to have a nice selection of local, regional, and national beers, and a few things on the beer list that seem out of the ordinary.

Of course, I was there to sample the breaded tenderloin. which Indy Men’s Magazine proclaimed “Indiana’s Best Tenderloin”.

LoinThe sandwich was served on a kaiser roll, which is a little out of the norm..most restaurants serve their tenderloins on a regular bun, but the kaiser roll works well.

As mentioned in a previous review, there are two distinct schools of thought on breaded tenderloins. Some like them pounded out very thin, while some prefer a thicker piece of meat. The thicker is my personal preference…neither is right or wrong, it IS just a matter of preference…and Nickel Plate is of the thicker variety. The tenderloin seems pounded enough to tenderize it, while preserving the thickness of the meat. The meat was moist, tender, and fresh.

The breading was fantastic! Nice and crisp, it stayed that way through the life of the sandwich, without getting soggy. This is one fine sandwich, and, if your preference is a thicker tenderloin, you’ll really like this one. It certainly merits a return visit..it was that good!

Nickel Plate’s tenderloin sells for 8.99 and that includes chips. You can upgrade to fries for a modest upcharge, which I did. The fries are good, but, really, nothing special. Still, a nice compliment to the sandwich.

NIckel Pate is located at 8654 E 116th street in Fishers. You can find them online at http://www.nickelplatebarandgrill.com

Lutz’s Steakhouse, Noblesville, Indiana

Hamilton County, Indiana is home to The Tenderloin Trail, a well promoted tour of tenderloins in North Central Indiana.

In conjunction with this, they’re launching Tenderloin Tuesdays, where select restaurants are partnering with the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote tenderloins in said county.

I am truly honored to have been asked to review some of the restaurants that are participating in The Tenderloin Trail!  One of my responsibilities will include reviewing restaurants…some of which know I’m coming to review them in advance of my arrival.  This presents some interesting challenges.  Even though I’m asked to do the review, I still have to be fair and impartial, no matter who asks me to do that review.

That said, the next few reviews will be in conjunction with the Tenderloin Trail.  I won’t be rating on my normal 1-5 bite scale, instead, I’ll be giving a fair, unbiased review and letting you make your own decision.

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Our first stop was Lutz’s Steakhouse, on State Road 32, between 31 and Noblesville.  My wife and I have passed Lutz’s countless times, and always commented that we’d like to try it, but our schedule never permitted it.  Last Friday, we stopped for a late lunch/early dinner.

I have a pet peeve.  I can’t stand restaurants that try to be retro.  They always fail in my book.  Lutz’s doesn’t TRY to be retro, it IS retro.  I meant that as a very high compliment.  I liked the decor quite a bit.  Yes, some might find it dated…but to me, it was appealing.  It took me back to a simpler time, and I immediately felt at home.

We were greeted promptly at the door in a friendly and professional manner, and shown to our table.  We arrived kind of at the changeover from lunch to dinner (more about this later), and we were the only customers in the place, so we had our choice of tables.

Our waitress, Sandy, came out promptly, got our drink orders, and we talked about the tenderloin.  They cut, pound, and bread it in house, so it’s a true breaded tenderloin.  It’s only available on the lunch menu, but I suspect if you wanted it for dinner they’d fix it for you.

Now, there are two distinct schools of thought on breaded tenderloins.  Some folks like their tenderloins pounded out very thin, some like a thicker piece of meat.  Neither way is “right”, in my opinion, it’s a matter of personal preference.

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Lutz’s tenderloin is the pounded out very thin type, as you can see by the photo.  The meat is fresh, and the breading is nice and crispy, but, personally, I thought both could have stood to be seasoned a little more.  That said, however, it’s obvious that Lutz’s caters to a mostly older clientele, so heavily seasoned food isn’t the preference for many of us older folks.  Lutz’s does an outstanding job of catering to their customer base.

The sandwich was served dressed as I ordered it, and I chose fries as the side, and was pleased to see that they serve krinkle cut fries…my favorite!

So, how was it?  It’s no secret that my preference is for the thicker tenderloin.  That said, if you’re a fan of your tenderloin pounded out thinner, you’ll like this one.  It’s the very traditional, thin tenderloin.

For her dinner, Holly chose Lemon Crusted Tilapia.  At both lunch and dinner, it comes with salad and choice of potato.  Their house dressing is Hot Bacon – which was a no brainer!  It is quite good – on the thin side with a very vinegary base.  The potato was cooked perfectly.  The fish was a little over-cooked (soft), but very flavorful.  And the fresh lemon wedges served with it was a very nice touch.

As I indicated before, there was potential issue due to the lunch/dinner changeover.  We had a little mix up on our bill due to the transition of one dining hour to another.  Our server spoke to the manager, and they fixed it immediately – with a smile.  It’s that kind of customer service that keeps folks coming back.

Lutz’s steakhouse is located at 3100 Westfield Road in Noblesville.  You can find them online at  http://lutzs-steakhouse.com/.

If you’re interested in The Tenderloin Trail and Tenderloin Tuesdays, you can find more information at http://www.visithamiltoncounty.com/tenderloin-trail/.

El Reparo, Brookville, Indiana

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El Reparo is one of our “go to” places in Brookville.  And, let’s face it, there are not a TON of restaurants in Brookville, Indiana, but El Reparo has always had good food and good service, so we’re regulars there when we’re in the area.

As you can probably tell by the name, they’re a Mexican restaurant, and their Mexican food is VERY good.  They have a limited American menu…a burger, chicken fingers, and I THINK a steak, but they’ve recently added a hand breaded tenderloin to the menu, so I decided to give it a try.

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The meat itself was quite good!  Nice, moist, tender, and not pounded out too thin.  I liked it quite a lot!  The breading was…interesting.  It was quite unlike any I’d ever had.  Don’t get me wrong…I liked it!  It just wasn’t traditional.

You’ll notice that there is a slice of cheese on this sandwich…that was my mistake.  It’s noted on the menu that this sandwich has cheese on it, but I didn’t see it, just glancing at the menu.  I prefer my tenderloins without cheese, but this was a nice change of pace.

I’m going to give El Reparo’s breaded tenderloin a 3.5 out of 5 bites.  It’s above average, but it’s not what I would call great.  Still, it’s worth getting if you like tenderloins.

The sandwich is served with potato wedges, and I’ve got to say a word about them.  They were FANTASTIC.  Well-seasoned and perfectly cooked, I will absolutely ask for these again!

El Reparo is located at 819 Main Street in Brookville, Indiana.  They also have locations in Rushville and Connersville, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a web site for them.

Gatsby’s, Indianapolis (NW side)

I’ll be honest.  I’ve had folks request that I review a certain restaurant/tenderloin, and I’ve had varying success.  I always feel badly when sometime tells me about a breaded tenderloin that they think is a 5 out of 5, and it turns out to be a fritter.

So, when a good friend asked me to join him for lunch and review the tenderloin and Gatsby’s…I was cautiously optimistic.  I really hoped I wasn’t in for a letdown.  And, I suspected I wasn’t…because he is a firefighter, and if one thing firefighters know, it is good food.  I later found out that the owner of Gatsby’s is an Indianapolis Firefighter, another plus.

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Gatsby’s looks like your typical strip mall pub from the outside.  It’s located just off of I-465 and 71st street on the West side, and is surrounded by office parks and motels/hotels.

Upon entering, it’s much larger than it looks like from the outside.  There’s a raised dining area, and the main floor.  They make efficient use of the space here.

The wait staff was friendly and helpful, but we both knew what we wanted…the breaded tenderloin.

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When they brought it out, it was obviously hand breaded, and it’s sized right. It’s not so large as to be overwhelming, but it’s certainly filling.  The sandwich is seasoned PERFECTLY….and the breading stays crisp throughout the life of the sandwich.  The meat is moist and tender.  Although I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, I can say with assurance this is one of the best tenderloins I’ve ever had.  It’s a 5 out of 5, no questions asked.  Seriously.  Go get this sandwich.

For my side, I chose onion rings, and I’d say they are above average.  They’re not the best in town, but they’re certainly better than what one usually gets.

Gatsby’s breaded tenderloin goes for $8.29, and is served breaded, grilled, or Cajun. Cheese is .50 extra.

A bit of advice….if you’re going for lunch, go a bit early, or after 12:00 Noon.  We got there about 1130, and it was pleasantly busy, but by noon or a few minutes after, there were folks waiting to be seated.

Gatsby’s is located at 6335 Intech Commons Drive.  You can find them online at http://www.gatsbysonline.com , and they also have a Facebook page.

Opera House Pub, Elwood, Indiana

Who knew that Elwood, Indiana, has a real, honest to goodness, Opera House?  I’ll admit that I had NO idea until a couple of years ago, and it’s a truly amazing place.

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The owner of the Opera House building opened the Opera House Pub a few months ago, and it’s a welcome addition to downtown Elwood.

The Opera House Pub leans towards the classy side of casual.  It’s nicely decorated with historic posters and pictures of the glory days of the Opera House, and lots of dark wood and leather gives it a very nice feel.  There’s a TV up above the bar, so one can check out the sports scores, but you’re not bombarded with sound from every corner like so many pubs these days.

There’s an extensive beer list featuring local, regional, and national brews, and the service is top notch.  We were there for a show at the Opera House, and lots of folks were dining before the show.  Even though it was quite busy, the service was stellar.

The menu has a nice selection of steaks, sandwiches, salads, and more.  They offer a hand breaded tenderloin, and, of course, that’s what I chose.

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The meat itself was VERY good.  Obviously fresh, it had a nice thickness to it, and was done to perfection.  The texture of the breading was good…it had a nice, satisfying crunch to it, but….it was a bit bland.  I appreciate the effort they’ve put into this sandwich, and with some seasoning it could be great.  As it stands, I’ll give it a 3…just average.

For her dinner, Holly had a Porterhouse and baked potato, with enough food left over for two more meals!  The steak was prepared as she requested and she said she wouldn’t hesitate to get it again.

All in all, this was a very positive experience.  We’ll certainly return to the Opera House!  The Opera House Pub is located at 200 S Anderson Street in Elwood, Indiana.  I was unable to find a web site for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Takathemoke Restaurant Milroy, Indiana

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Takathemoke restaurant is located in the little town of Milroy, Indiana, at the junction of highways 244 and 3 in Indiana.

We’ve passed by this restaurant countless times in our travels, and have always been meaning to stop in, but, never seemed to be passing through at meal time.  This trip, the time was right and we were passing through at the right time for an early dinner.

Takathemoke appears to be in an old farmhouse.  The back part of it has been converted into a bar, and the front is two small dining rooms.  It’s a small restaurant, but very cozy.

As I mentioned, we were there for an early dinner (about 330 PM) so it was kind of an “off” time for them.  Only one employee was on duty, but she did a capable job of taking care of us, even though she was cleaning tables, waiting tables, and cooking.

They offer their hand breaded tenderloin in 2 sizes, a large and a small.  When I saw the price….I was amazed at how inexpensive it was.  The large was 6.95, and that included fries (or another side), and the small was 4.95, and that included fries or another side of your choice.  I opted for the large, of course. 

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It’s a darn fine tenderloin.  The bread them in-house, and the breading has a VERY nice crunch to it, and stays crisp throughout the life of the sandwich.  The meat was above average, but I’d say it falls short of being outstanding.  Still, it was an above average sandwich, if just a bit on the bland side.  It could have stood some seasoning. I’ll give it 3.5 out of 5 bites.

As an added bonus, they serve Wick’s Sugar Cream Pie, the perfect way to end ANY meal!

Takathemoke restaurant is located on State Road 244, just east of State Road 3, in downtown Milroy, Indiana

Montgomery’s Steakhouse, Spiceland, Indiana

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Montgomery’s Steakhouse personifies a restaurant “out in the middle of nowhere”.  It’s located in the little hamlet of Spiceland, Indiana, south of New Castle, just off of the intersection of State Road 3 and I-70.

The parking lot is huge, and for good reason…this is a HUGE facility!  2 big dining rooms, a very large bar, and an area they call “The Back Porch”, where they have outdoor concerts in the summer.  They draw some pretty large crowds, with groups like 38 Special, Confederate Railroad, and more.

We were there for a comedy night, which was held in one of the dining rooms.  It’s got a very cozy feel that makes it seems intimate, in spite of its massive size.

As a steakhouse, they’re menu definitely runs towards the beef side.  There are a lot of steaks, of course, a very complete appetizer menu, some desserts, and more.

I spied ”hand breaded tenderloin” on the menu, and asked our server if it was done in house, and she told me indeed, it is, so I decided to give it a try.

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This is one of the thicker…perhaps THE thickest breaded tenderloin I’ve had.  It’s a hefty sandwich, to be sure.  Was it too thick?  For me, no, it wasn’t.  But, for some folks who prefer a thinner sandwich, it might well be.

The breading was nice and crunchy.  It wasn’t as seasoned as some I’ve had, still, it was very good.  The meat itself had a good flavor…not outstanding, but above average.  However, at least one bite had a hunk of gristle in it.  I realize this happens from time to time, but it does detract from the overall rating of the sandwich.

I ordered a side of onion rings, and I gotta say, those are some FANTASTIC onion rings.  Obviously hand breaded, done perfectly, some of the very best I’ve EVER had.  And I’ve had a lot of onion rings!

I’m really torn on how to rate this sandwich.  It’s good, but finding a nice hunk of gristle can’t help but bring the rating down.  Still, I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 bites.  It’s a little above average, and I’d order it again when I’m there.

For her dinner, Holly had the veggie burger and a side of steamed broccoli.  The veggie burger was average – nothing spectacular.  The broccoli florets were smaller than usual, which made them kind of difficult to eat with a fork, but other than that, the taste and level of “doneness” was fine.

I’ve got to give a shout out to the service.  With it being a special event night, I didn’t know what to expect.  They did a GREAT job on serving the crowd.

Montgomery’s is located just south of the intersection of I-70 and Highway 3 in Spiceland, Indiana.  You can find them online at:  http://www.montgomeryssteakhouse.com/