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.

Guest Review…The Mill House, Jasper, Indiana

Recently, the Tenderloin Connoisseur put a call out to his friends to visit one of their local restaurants and try its version of a tenderloin and report back.  I meant to take up this challenge earlier, but other events in our life seemed to get in the way.  However, this past week my wife, Wendi, and I decided to have an evening out and visited The Mill House in Jasper, IN. 

After being promptly seated and presented menus, we placed our order for our drinks and perused the menu.  The menu has several Americana dishes that can satisfy the appetites of most patrons.  They also have nightly specials that even include a Kids Pizza night and a Pizza bar night.  On their menu, there are three options for a tenderloin sandwich.  All three options can be made breaded or grilled.  The regular tenderloin comes topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  The Mill House comes with Cheese, bacon, and sautéed onions.  The third choice is the Buffalo Style.  The Buffalo Style comes with buffalo sauce, pepper jack cheese, and ranch.  All options come with waffle fries.  You can substitute onion straws or add the soup and bread bar for an extra fee.
As usual, I chose the Buffalo Style tenderloin, breaded, but substitute mayo for ranch. Also, I upgraded the waffle fries to cheese waffle fries.  I had a sweet tea to wash it down with.  It arrived promptly just as I had order.  The sandwich was definitely not your meat processed fritter.  It did have the appearance of being hand cut (as advertised).  The tenderloin was about twice the size of the toasted bun.  Three slices of pepper jack cheese covered it.  Although, it had some size to it, it also had a nice thickness that prevented it from being dried out.  Even with it being Buffalo style, it wasn’t swimming in the sauce like many wings do.  In fact, you don’t realize the sauce is even on it, until you start eating it.  However, after a few bites, your mouth is heats up.  I also received a good portion of cheese fries with it.  Although in the past, I have received smaller portions. The fries were covered in multiple cheeses and sprinkled with bacon.  They too come with ranch, but I just used the supplied Heinz ketchup.  I give this a 4 out of 5 rating, as it did get crispy around one of the edges.
Wendi chose the chicken parmesan pasta.  She received a generous helping.  She reported that it was just the way she liked it, but was just a little too much for her to finish.   
Service here is typically a 4 out of 5 rating as well.  This evening was no exception.  At our time of dining, they were not very busy.  But as seen in the parking lot, which is across the street, the crowd had started coming in. 
The Mill House is located on the corner of 14th and Mill Street in Jasper.  The two story building has two entrances.  The entrance on Mill Street is for the bar area.  The entrance from 14th Street is to the family and group dining.  Family dining is one the first floor while the upstairs can be reserved for groups.
Many thanks to Matt and Wendi Osgatharp for doing this guest review.  Would YOU like to do a review?  Drop me a note and let’s make it happen! :)

Carey Tavern, Westfield, Indiana

The Carey Tavern is a place we must have driven by dozens of times, but never at meal time.  We did have the opportunity to be there a few weeks ago for a Karaoke contest, but it was 10 PM and that’s pretty much past my bedtime, let alone meal time.  But I liked the atmosphere so we decided to go up for supper.

This review kind of came by accident…we were headed to Westfield to do a review on another pub, only to find out it’s gone out of business, and since the Carey Tavern is just down the road, we decided to give it a try.

Unlike a few of the other pubs I’ve reviewed in the past, the Carey tavern is smaller than it looks from the outside.  There’s a dining area, a medium sized bar, a couple of pool tables and game machines, and that’s about it.

Their menu is not as extensive as some of the sports bars/pubs in the area, but they have number of selections to fit most any appetite.    While perusing the sandwiches, I saw a tenderloin, offered either “hand breaded” or grilled.  Of course, it was a no brainer…a hand breaded tenderloin it was!

The sandwich is certainly hand breaded, and I’d say hand cut, also.  The breading is really outstanding!  It’s got a taste in it that I couldn’t quite define, but it adds a very nice punch to the breading.  Holly suggested it might be seasoned salt, and it very well might be, but whatever it is, it’s fantastic.  Among the best I’ve had.

Although this doesn’t LOOK like a large sandwich, it’s VERY thick.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but in this instance it might have been just a bit TOO thick.  The meat was nice and moist, but it was just a wee bit tough.  A bit of pounding would’ve put this sandwich over the top.  Also, we encountered a very small bit of gristle in the sandwich.  Not much, but enough to throw the score off.

The bun was nicely toasted, and the sandwich was served dressed exactly as I requested it.  I’m going to give the Carey tavern’s breaded tenderloin sandwich a  4 out of 5, certainly above average.  With just a bit of tweaking, it’d be right up there with the best in town.

The sandwich comes with your choice of sides, and I chose the onion rings.  I’m VERY glad I did, they were AWESOME.   If you’re an onion ring fan, don’t miss these.

For her dinner, Holly chose the grilled tilapia sandwich with a side of fries.  She reported the fries to be average, but the sandwich was stellar!  It was dressed just as she requested, and was one of the best grilled tilapia sandwiches she’d ever had.

There are a couple of things that detracted from our experience as a whole, though.  First of all, the music was loud.  I don’t mean a little high, I mean one can barely hear oneself think and it made it a bit difficult to carry on a conversation.

Secondly, it’s a smoking restaurant.  I’ve got no problem with smoking restaurants, as long as they have a decent ventilation system, but between cigarette and cigar smoke, there was a cloud that just hung in the room.  Although the food was very good, the loud music and the extremely smoky conditions made for a less than optimal dining experience.
The Carey tavern is located at 17419 Carey Road in Westfield, Indiana.  I was unable to find a web page for them, but they do have a page on Facebook.

Michaelangelo’s Italian Bistro, Noblesville, Indiana

Anyone who knows me, knows that Italian food is never my first choice for dinner.  I don’t dislike Italian, it’s just not one of my favorites.  If I’m with someone who wants to eat Italian, I’m happy to go along, I’ll just never choose that for myself.

We were meeting a group of Geocachers for dinner last night and they had chosen Michaelangelo’s, an Italian restaurant in Noblesville for dinner.  I’ve eaten there before, and as far as Italian food goes, it’s pretty darn good, so I was happy to go back.

The meal starts with unlimited salad and breadsticks, and I perused the menu, seeking something pretty basic…spaghetti, lasagna, or something like that.

Then I saw it.

Breaded pork tenderloin parmesan.

Breaded tenderloin at an Italian restaurant?  Well, we ARE in Indiana.  So, I decided to give it a try.

I’m going to tell you right now that I’m NOT going to rate this on my usual 0-5 bite scale, since it’s not a traditional breaded tenderloin sandwich.  I’ll just give you my impressions.

First of all, Michaelango’s is owned by the parent corporation that also has Grindstone Charley’s, and if you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’ve had to absolutely stellar tenderloins at Grindstones, so I had high hopes.

 

I wasn’t disappointed.  The tenderloin was tender and moist, and very tasty with a great ratio of meat to breading.  Not too thick, not too thin, but just right.  The breading itself was a bit different that the sandwich version that Charley’s serves….this breading has a few more spices, which, in this case, certainly adds to the overall taste of the meal.  The marinara sauce is made fresh in house, and, although I’m not an expert on marinara sauce, I WILL say that I like this sauce quite a lot.  The pasta was tasty and done perfectly.  All in all, it was a very satisfying meal.

Although I’m not going to rate this in the way I normally do, I believe the test of a meal is, would I  buy it again.

Absolutely, without hesitation, yes.  Not only would I buy it again, I would make a special trip to Michaelangelo’s just for this.

Everything else on the menu looks good.  Holly had portabella ravioli, and raved about it.

Michaelangelo’s breaded tenderloin parmesan sells for 11.95, and that includes unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks.  Michaelangelo’s is located at 550 Westfield Road in Noblesville, and you can visit their website at:  http://www.michaelangelosbistro.com/

Bearcats Restaurant, Indianapolis

One of the very best things of doing what I do is stumbling upon those undiscovered treasures that few people seem to know about.  It happened to me last night, and I’m glad I did.

I was vaguely familiar with The Stutz Building, located at 10th and Senate in Indianapolis.  A lovely old building that now houses apartments, art studios, first Friday events, and Bearcats restaurant.

I knew that there was a restaurant here, but had no idea what it was called, nor did I have any idea what was on their menu.  I was attending an event at Bearcats and it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Since I had no idea what kind of food they had, and I couldn’t find a menu online, I was totally unprepared to do a review.  However, upon arriving, I saw that someone else had a breaded tenderloin, so I knew I had to do a review.

The owner of the restaurant gets major points for jumping right in and waiting tables and taking care of a large group.   Other restaurant owners should take a hint from this kind of service.

 

The menu advertises that their tenderloins are cut fresh every day and hand breaded, and this was certainly the case.  The meat was tender, moist, and juicy, and was a more than ample serving. More than that, they’re not pounded paper thin…it’s rather like a nice pork chop.

The breading was top notch.  Was it the best breading I’ve ever had? No, not quite.  But it was still very, very good.  Crunchy and crisp and it stayed that way throughout the life of the sandwich.

I asked for my normal condiments,   (Ketchup, Mayo, Onion) and the server advised me that all condiments are served on the side, which is fine with me.

The bun was nice and fresh, and well toasted…actually, toasted just a bit more than is my preference.  It wasn’t objectionable by ANY means…just a bit more toasted than I’m used to.

The price?  This sandwich is a bargain.  $7.99, and that includes fries  (my favorite kind of fries…shoestring!) AND cole slaw, which was quite tasty, if just a tad bland.

I’ve had a few hours to think about this sandwich, and I’m going to give it a 4.5 out of 5 bites.  It falls just short of the hall of fame, but it is worth driving across town for.

Bearcats is located at 1055 N Senate in Indianapolis.  I found out after the fact that they DO have a website, and that is http://www.bearcatsindy.net.

Richard’s Restaurant, Muncie, Indiana

Richard’s Restaurants are a small chain that was founded in the late 60s in Bluffton, Indiana.  They have a few stores scattered throughout north central and north east Indiana, and have developed a very loyal following through the years.

All of Richard’s seem to have the same menu, and much of it is “comfort food”….just good, solid, down home cooking.  I’ve been to Richard’s quite a few times, and it’s always been a good experience.  Overwhelming?  Honestly, no, but good, solid food for a reasonable price.

And, the breaded tenderloin sandwich is no different.  It’s advertised as hand cut and hand breaded and it certainly seems so.  As is my preference, it’s not pounded paper thin, and it’s certainly not a frozen pork fritter.

The breading is crisp and tasty, if somewhat bland.  The meat itself was a bit dry for my taste, but the flavor was….well, fine.  Not outstanding, but not bad, either.

The condiments were served as I ordered, and there were plenty of them.  One downside is that the bun is not toasted, which is not my preference and takes away from my score.

On the plus side, the price is right…$5.95 and that includes fries, and the service was friendly and attentitive.

Overall, I’m going to give Richard’s breaded tenderloin sandwich a 3.5 out of 5 bites.  It’s above average, and it’s filling and satisfying.  It won’t knock your socks off, but it’s better than the frozen fritters that some restaurants pass off as breaded tenderloins.

Richard’s Restaurant is located at 2601 N Martin Luther King Blvd in Muncie.  You can visit there website here.

Grindstone Charley’s, Indianapolis (Speedway), Indiana

I’ve been to Grindstone Charley’s a few times for group outings, but, for some reason, I’ve never tried the tenderloin there.

This restaurant is one of many that have been on my list to try, recommendations from friends and blog readers, that I’m slowly working through.  I’ve actually been avoiding Grindstone Charley’s because of my perception of it being a national chain restaurant, and my experience with those has been less than stellar.  Many of them…Applebee’s, Chili’s, O’Charley’s, etc, seem to be cookie cutter versions of each other with little character and somewhat bland food.

Grindstone Charlie’s is actually part of the regional Clancy’s chain, with Charlie’s having 8 locations in Indiana.  They have a quite full menu, ranging from salads to sandwiches to steaks and about everything in between.

Tuesday found us headed to the west side of Indianapolis for a music gig, so we did a  spur of the moment visit to Grindstone Charley’s.  The sign on the building proudly proclaims the world’s best tenderloin, and, upon being seated, the tenderloin is the feature picture on the front of the menu.

So, did it live up to all the hype?

I’m happy to report that it did.  When the waiter brought my sandwich, it looked just as tasty as the picture on the menu,and it certainly was! The meat was nice, juicy, and tender, and the breading was flaky, crispy, and flavorful.  A cornmeal based breading, it perfectly complimented the tenderness and taste of the meat without overwhelming it.

The bun was buttered and toasted, with just enough butter to add even another layer of flavor on this already outstanding sandwich.

I ordered my sandwich, as always, with onion, mayo, and ketchup on the side, and as you can see, there are plenty of condiments and they were served as I ordered them.

Grindstone Charley’s breaded tenderloin sells for $8.59 and that includes French fries or slaw, or for $1.00 more you can opt for their “signature onion rings”.  I chose the fries and they were quite good.

So, to recap:  a great cut of meat.  Tasty breading.  Nicely toasted, buttered bun.  Served as ordered.  Grindstone Charley’s breaded tenderloin gets a 5 out of 5 bites, as good as it gets.

Holly had lemon pepper whitefish which was very good, and I have to give kudos to our server, who was pleasant and attentive without hovering over us.

I’ve not really been a steady customer of Grindstone Charley’s in the past, but with an experience like this…I will be!

We visited the location at 5828 Crawfordsville Road in Indianapolis.  You can view their website and find their other locations here.