86th Street Pub, Indianapolis, IN

86th front

86th Street Pub is a place I’d been to a time or two in the past, but didn’t remember it making a big impression on me one way or the other.

I’d heard…likely through social media…that they were under new management, and I had intended to visit, but had never got around to it, until my wife was invited to be part of a podcast that originates from there.

The pub is located in a somewhat aging strip center on 86th street, just West of Michigan Road. There are a variety of businesses in this center, and the 86th Street Pub is located right in the center.

Upon entering, I was struck by how well lit and airy it was…a welcome change from many of the dark, almost depressing pubs I visit for work from time to time. And it’s big, too! They main room has quite a few TVs, and the back room has pool tables, a couple of TV’s, and it, too, is well lit and inviting.

So, the atmosphere was good….and I saw the hand breaded tenderloin on the menu, and had to give it a try.

86th loin

I’ll keep this short and sweet. This is one of the best tenderloins in Indy, hands down. The meat is fresh, tender, and moist, and the breading is sublime. Nice, light, and crispy, it compliments rather than overwhelms the taste of the meat. I’ve had two of these tenderloins in the last couple of weeks, and both of them were a solid 5 out of 5 bites.

Several sides are available, and I HIGHLY recommend the onion rings, available for a small upcharge.

While dining at the 86th Street Pub, my wife has tried several of their offerings: the Black & Bleu salad, California Chicken Club, and the Spicy Southwest Wrap. She liked them all and wouldn’t hesitate to get any of them again! But her favorite part is the fact that, in addition to their standard beer selections, they have a surprisingly diverse offering of local and regional craft beer. There is truly something for everyone, and they do great job at changing up what they have on tap.

In addition to their beer selections, The 86th Street Pub also features live entertainment…music, trivia, and more.

I do have to put a plug in for the live podcast, the Indy Drinking Dead. Broadcast live from the pub Sunday nights at 8PM, followed by a current episode viewing party at 9PM. You can find the podcast website at http://www.indydrinkingdead.com

You can find the 86th Street Pub online at http://www.86thstreetpub.com

Cafe Audrey, Indianapolis, IN (Guest Review by Janie Morrison)

Cafe Audrey
Last Tuesday my OTHER Holly friend and I decided to meet for lunch near where she works at Fort Ben.  Not Rick’s wife, but Holly Harrison Lee, who has been my friend since we were in first grade.  
Neither of us had been to Cafe Audrey’s at the Fort, but were glad to try a new place.  It is only open for breakfast and lunch and they serve breakfast all day.  I decided to try the breaded tenderloin sandwich and Holly had an omelet.
Audrey tenderloin
The description says that it is made with homemade  crunchy breading and that the meat is tender inside.  This was true.  It came with homemade chips for $7.99 but I substituted cottage cheese for $1 more.  There were several other sides I could have chosen as well as an onion rings or wedges upgrade for $1.49.
I have been pondering how to rate this sandwich for a few days.  I liked it.  The breading was flavorful and indeed – very crunchy.  The meat was tender.  The problem for me was the ratio of breading to meat.  I think the breading overwhelmed the meat a bit.  It was 2/3rds breading to 1/3 meat.  I would have liked it better if those ratios were flipped.  But, nonetheless, it is a good sandwich and I would give it a strong 4.
Holly liked her omelet and the rest of the menu looked very good.  The place itself is very quaint and inviting.  It is very clean.  The manager checked in to make sure everything was okay and our server was very sweet and informative.
She said the restaurant was built in 1901 as stables for the horses on the fort.  Later it was used as a post office. More recently it has been a restaurant.  It has just reopened after closing briefly while transitioning to new ownership.  They were serving off of the previous menu when we were there, but hope to have their new menus soon.

Kunkels Drive In, Connersville, Indiana

Kunkels Sign

A friend recently recommended that we try Kunkels Drive In, in Connersville. That’s not a town we got to on a regular basis, but our business took us there recently, so we decided to give it a try.

Kunkels is a true slice of Americana. Small town, family owned drive in, with great food and service. It’s one of those places I stepped in and immediately felt at home.
The Drive In has curb service, and they also have a small dining room. We opted to eat in the dining room, as it was rainy and gloomy outside, and also because I’m not a huge fan of eating in the car.

We had a very brief wait for a table, 5 minutes or so, and were promptly seated as the 1st table became available. Our waitress was friendly and professional, and, more than that, was knowledgeable about the menu. Of course, I wanted to try the tenderloin, and she assured me that they were hand-made, in house, so I was sold.

Kunkels Loin
I like this tenderloin quite a lot! It’s not so big as to be overwhelming, but big enough to be satisfying. It’s pounded out thin, but not TOO thin. It’s, perhaps, just a bit thinner than I prefer, but still, it’s thicker than many of the tenderloins out there.

The breading was very good indeed! It was nice and crunchy, and stayed crisp. The sandwich wasn’t greasy at all. The meat was fresh, and while not the absolute best I’ve ever had, again, it was quite good. The sandwich was dressed exactly as I requested it.

All in all, I’m going to give Kunkels tenderloin a 4 out of 5 bites. It’s well above average and I’ll certainly get it again.

For my side, I ordered onion rings, and they were something else indeed! Light breading, done perfectly, these were some of the best onion rings I’ve ever had.

For her dinner, Holly had pulled pork with cole slaw and krinkle cut fries. She likes to get the pulled pork at a new restaurant and uses that as a “gauge” for the other menu items. She is happy to report that this pulled pork is a keeper! Tender shredded pork with a sweet and smoky sauce – delicious! And the fresh, seasonal strawberry pie was the perfect ending to a delicious meal!

Kunkels Drive In is located at 2402 N Park Road in Connersville, Indiana. I was unable to located a web site for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Courtney’s Kitchen, Noblesville, IN


This is another in a series of reviews on behalf of the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, promoting Tenderloin Tuesdays, and our great dining choices in Hamilton County.

This Tuesday found me at Courtney’s Kitchen in Noblesville.

Courtney’s is a diner/restaurant located just west of the courthouse square in Noblesville. If you’ve not visited Noblesville’s town square, you should. It’s wonderfully quaint, and features one of Indiana’s lovely, old courthouses. Photography options abound on the town square!

But, back to Courtney’s. I was born and raised in a small town, so when I enter a restaurant and am met with that small town atmosphere, I’m pretty well hooked already. Courtney’s has that feel to it. There’s local art on the walls, some posters hanging around featuring upcoming events in the area, and some folks sitting, chatting, lingering over their meals. I’m pretty certain you’d never feel rushed at Courtney’s. It fairly screams “small town”, and that’s a VERY good thing.

I, of course, was there to sample their tenderloin. There are two options, hand breaded or grilled, and in a nice touch, they offer two sizes…a larger and a petite one. I chose the petite, and it was plenty for a hearty eater like me.


The tenderloin is obviously hand breaded, and the meat was fresh and moist. The breading was nice and crunchy, with just the barest hint of seasoning.

If you’re a fan of very thinly pounded tenderloins, you are going to love this one! It was tasty and crunchy, and, although my personal preference is for a thicker tenderloin, I’ll admit that I liked this one quite a lot, thin as it was.

The sandwich is served with chips, or for an upcharge you can add a number of different sides. I chose onion rings, and they were nothing short of fantastic. No matter what I might order at Courtney’s, I’m certain those onion rings will be my side of choice.

Holly my wife had one of the other Tuesday specials – all you can eat spaghetti. It came with a salad and garlic toast. There was plenty of pasta in the first serving for Holly to have enough to eat and leftovers. It had a standard, mild meat sauce. The salad was basic, and the Italian dressing was very good! The garlic toast was closer to Texas toast than garlic toast – not very garlicky.

All in all, it was a very positive experience. We’ll certainly be back! Courtney’s Kitchen is located at 654 Logan Street in Noblesville. You can find them online at http://www.courtneykitchen.com, and they also have a Facebook page. You might want to note that they are closed on Mondays.

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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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.