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.

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.

The Friendly Tavern, Zionsville, Indiana

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We’d heard for years about The Friendly Tavern in Zionsville, and how legendary their tenderloins were, but our schedule hadn’t permitted us to stop in, until this past weekend.

We were playing at the Zionsville Farmers Market (a very fine market, worth the drive up there), and decided to take advantage of being in the area and have lunch at the Friendly.

The Friendly is on the main shopping street of downtown Zionsville, and, from the outside, looks rather small, like a neighborhood tavern.

Upon entering, however, this place is huge!  Two separate dining areas, lots of nice, dark wood, and very homey feeling.

We got there just as they opened, and there was only one or two other parties dining.  However, by the time we finished with our lunch, the place was hopping.

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Of course, I ordered their hand breaded tenderloin, and, as everyone else has said….it was just fantastic!  The breading was nice, light, and crunchy.  The meat itself tasted fresh, was moist, and seasoned just right.  The bun was nicely toasted, and the sandwich was served dressed as I requested.  This one is certainly a 5 out of 5 bites.

I chose fries as my side, and they were good.  Not the best I’ve ever had, but I’d say better than average.

For her meal, Holly chose a side salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and an order of their Apple BBQ chicken wings.  Now, don’t let the price scare you off.  An order will set you back $10.99.  BUT…she got enough wings in her order to have a satisfying lunch and take leftovers home for BOTH of us to have dinner that night, along with some fresh grilled sweet corn we scored from the farmers market!  Holly says she typically doesn’t care for breaded wings because it tends to distract from the meat.  But these were very fine indeed!

The Friendly Tavern is located at 290 S Main Street in Zionsville, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a website for them; however, they do have a Facebook page.

Rokafellow’s Hall, Pendleton, Indiana

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Rokafellow’s Hall is a music/entertainment venue in downtown Pendleton, Indiana.  It’s a very cool place.  There’s a HUGE stage, a couple of pool tables, a few TV’s, tables, and booths.  It’s long and narrow….I’m not sure how many people it holds, but it’s a lot.  And it’s a non-smoking music and entertainment venue, something as an entertainer AND a customer that I appreciate!

I had some new comedy material I wanted to try, and they have a Sunday night open stage, so I decided to get something to eat.  My personal philosophy….if a place is going to provide a stage for me to work out my new material, whether it be comedy or music, then I should patronize them.  So, we decided to get something to eat while we were there.

Being a small town bar, they have a fairly limited menu:  wings, nachos, a couple of salads, some sandwiches, and the like.  I noticed that they had a breaded tenderloin on the menu, and honestly, I thought it would be a fritter.  I asked our server, a very nice young man named Sean, if it was a fritter, and he said “No, everything here is hand-made”.

OK, let’s give it a trThis tenderloin comes dressed with a whole bunch of stuff…tomato, lettuce, pickle, and more….items I don’t normally get on a tenderloin sandwich.  It ALSO comes dressed with “maple bacon jam”.  Maple Bacon jam?  On a tenderloin?  That sounds….interesting.  And something I wasn’t quite sure about.  Sean told us that the chef makes his own maple bacon jam, so I figured, what the heck…I’m going to break from my tradition and get the sandwich dressed like they offer it.

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The meat is obviously fresh, it’s moist and flavorful, just like it should be.  The breading was a little different than many I’ve had, but it was VERY good.  And that maple bacon jam?  All I can say is WOW.  That’s some good stuff.  Mixed with the fresh meat, nice breading, lettuce, tomato, pickle….this is one VERY good sandwich.

I’m going to give Rokafellow’s Hall a 4.5 out of 5 bites.  Most of that ½ star off comes from it being non-traditional, that’s all.

Holly chose the nachos with no meat, and they came as ordered – vegetables on top with additional toppings on the side.  The cheese was a sauce, which was okay, but Holly prefers shredded cheese. There wasn’t anything spectacular about these…just your basic order of nachos.

Rokafellow’s Hall is located at 104 W State Street in Pendleton, Indiana.  Although they’re non-smoking, they are 21 and over only.  They DO have a nice selection of local and regional beers, also.

I was unable to find a web page for Rokafellow’s, but they do have a Facebook page where you can view their entertainment schedule.

 

Wolfie’s Grill, Carmel, Indiana

ImageWolfies Grill is a locally owned bar/grill/restaurant with 3 locations:  Noblesville, Fishers, and Carmel.  The Carmel location opened a couple of years ago, and it’s pretty close to where we live,  and we’ve been wanting to try it ever since,  We finally had the chance last week.

Located in one of the several strip mall type buildings near 116th and Keystone, it’s very attractive from the outside…and it’s MUCH larger on the inside than it looks from the outside.  It’s another restaurant that’s done in an outdoorsy motif.  Very tastefully done, it’s warm and welcoming from the moment you step through the door.

We visited at 5:30 PM on a Thursday night, so we were prepared to wait…..but Wolfies was virtually empty.  No other parties seated in the dining room, and 2 or 3 folks at the bar, that was it. 

The hostess greeted us warmly and showed us to our seat, and the waitress took our drink order and left our menus with us.  Upon perusing the menu, I saw they offer a hand breaded tenderloin, so I decided to give it a chance.

ImageThe sandwich looks really good!  It’s obviously not a fritter, but a TRUE tenderloin.

However, I wish it had tasted as good as it looked.  Don’t get me wrong…this wasn’t a BAD sandwich…it just wasn’t a terribly GOOD sandwich.  The breading was crispy, yes, but it had no seasoning or flavor to speak of.  The same can be said about the meat.  It appeared to be fresh, but very bland.

The sandwich was served as I requested, and I appreciated the server’s attention to detail on that.

I’ll give Wolfies breaded tenderloin sandwich a 2.5 out of 5 bites….just average.

For my side, I chose the hand-made chips, and I’ll say those were simply outstanding!  Seasoned will with a nice kick to them, I wouldn’t hesitate to order them again.

For her meal, Holly ordered the Fiesta Fish Wrap – cooked tilapia filets wrapped in a wheat tortilla with tortilla strips, chipotle mayo, corn salsa, tomatoes, and shredded lettuce.  The wrap comes with a side of tortilla chips and salsa, which she opted to keep as her side.  There are different sides available for an upcharge, but since “Fiesta” was the theme, the chips and salsa seemed fitting.  Holly is sorry to report that her meal was simply average as well.  The most disappointing part was that there didn’t seem to be much fish on the wrap.  It tasted okay, but it wasn’t outstanding.  And the chips and salsa were simply average.  In fact, the salsa obviously came from a jar or can, which, in Holly’s opinion is simply a notch below average.

We opted for dessert when the waitress mentioned they had blackberry cobbler.  It was….like both of our meals, just average.  At 6 bucks for what we perceived to be a VERY small portion, we won’t be ordering that again.

Generally, the service was good, but, after our meal, when the server dropped off our check, she just disappeared.  It took her what seemed like forever to return.  Not a very good end to a just average experience.

All that said, since Wolfies is a locally owned restaurant, we are willing to give them one more chance and see if things improve.

Wolfies is located at 116th and Keystone, in the Merchant’s Square area.  You can find them online at http://www.wolfiesgrill.com 

The Hoosier Pork Tenderloin Showdown is on!!

Every year, one of our local TV stations hosts an “A-list” competition, with quite a number of different categories.  This year, one of the categories is the Hoosier Pork Tenderloin Showdown!

Looking at the list of tenderloins that are in the running, I see that 2 absolutely stellar tenderloins are on the list….the Gaslight Inn and the Aristocrat.  I was disappointed to see some of the best tenderloins in the state didn’t even make the cut.

I was even MORE disappointed to see that a couple of pre processed fritters made the cut…the Mug n Bun and Nick’s Kitchen.

Nevertheless, you should go check it out…and vote!  You can do it here….

http://theindyalist.cityvoter.com/bracket/hoosier-pork-tenderloin-showdown/181

The Mayberry Cafe, Danville, Indiana

 

One of the hardest parts about doing a blog about this is being fair.  No matter how much I like  (or dislike) a particular restaurant, my job is to give as unbiased an opinion as is humanly possible.

Those of you who know me personally know that I’m a HUGE fan of the Andy Griffith Show.  My office has Andy Griffith art on the walls, I watch the show nearly every day, and can talk right along with the dialogue.

We’re fortunate to have The Mayberry Café about 45 minutes away from home, in the town of Danville, Indiana.  Holly had a music gig in Danville, and it gave us the perfect chance to visit The Mayberry Café for dinner.

Of course, the place is Mayberry themed, complete with a Mayberry squad car parked outside.  The walls are lined with photos and posters of The Andy Griffith Show, and multiple TVs show episodes of the show while they’re open.

The service is very friendly and down home, and, to us, it seemed very genuine.  It appeared the servers truly enjoyed their job, and did a fine job of interacting with the customers without being intrusive.

The menu features what I call “down home” cooking…meatloaf, fried chicken, and so on.  There also are several burgers on the menu, as well as a few Italian dishes…perhaps in homage to the “Dinner at 8” episode.

I saw the breaded tenderloin on the menu, and asked the server, “Is it a REAL breaded tenderloin, or a fritter”, and she replied “We get that question a lot, and it IS a real tenderloin”.

Well, that was enough for me.  I ordered it…and I’m glad I did.

The taste and texture were fantastic.  Fresh pork, and the breading is wonderful.  Nice and crispy, and it stayed crisp throughout the life of the sandwich.  I ordered my sandwich, as always, with ketchup, mayo, and onion, and they didn’t skimp on the onion, a big plus in my book.  The bun was nicely toasted, although there was nothing special about the bun itself.

The ONLY downside to this sandwich is that it was pounded out just a bit thinner than my preference.  The taste and texture were perfect, only it being just a bit too thin for my personal taste kept it from being a 5 out of 5.  I’m going to give it a 4.5…VERY good, and well worth the drive.

Holly chose Aunt Bea’s fried chicken.  She was surprised to learn that the chicken was *not* bone-in!  Not a minus, just not expected.  The breading was wonderful and although it was all white meat, it was tender and juicy.  Home-style mashed potatoes and gravy with green beans were her sides – both reported to be comfort food at its finest.

The Mayberry Cafe is located at 78 W Main Street in Danville, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a web page for them, but they do have a Facebook page.