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:

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.

Syd’s, Noblesville, Indiana

Syd’s Bar in Noblesville is one of those places that seems to be legendary in Central Indiana.  Located on the town square, their classic neon sign proudly proclaims “fine foods” and they’re known far and wide as a favorite eatery.

They’ve got two rooms, a classic bar room, complete with shuffleboard, bar, booths, and juke box, and they also have a “family dining” room in the back.  However, I do believe that even the family dining side is 21 and over, since it’s not seperated from the smoking area.

The service is fast and friendly, and I must give our servers kudos for being attentive to detail, keeping our drinks refilled, and being friendly and cordial.

Syd’s menu has a pretty wide selection of appetizers, the centerpiece being their signature fried pickles.  There are a few places around town that serve fried pickles, and these are tops.  Lightly breaded and served with remoulade sauce, they’re a great way to start the meal.

Of course, I made the trip up here to sample their breaded tenderloin.  Syd’s tenderloin has been reviewed many times before on various sites…Yelp, Yahoo, and most recently by my friends at  Locals seem to think that Syd’s is almost the Mecca of breaded tenderloins.  If this is your opinion….maybe you should stop reading now.

As you can see by the picture, this tenderloin is huge.  But, that’s a bit deceptive, because it’s pounded out paper thin, and there’s not much meat here at all.  I got several bites that were nothing but meat to be found in that part of the sandwich.

The meat that I did get was………there’s no other way to put it.  It was really, really bad.  I don’t recall EVER having a piece of meat that was as dry as this one was.  It was almost like chewing sand it was so dry.  Not only was it dry, but it was tough and stringy, and filled with gristle.

The breading wasn’t much better.  The menu claims it’s “seasoned”, but it was just bland and tasteless.  To top it off, there was FAR too much of it.

The bun was toasted, and the condiments were brought as requested, however, that’s not enough to redeem this sandwich.

I’ve thought overnight about how to rate this sandwich.  In the past, I’ve giving some sandwiches a “1” rating, reflecting that they’re  “edible, but that’s about it”.

This sandwich wasn’t even edible.  I covered part of it with my napkin and simply let them discard it.  That’s how bad it was.  Syd’s breaded tenderloin,  (which sells for $6.95) gets a 0 out of 5 bites.

That said, the onion rings were excellent, and Holly chose their special for the evening, a smothered chopped sirloin, and that was quite good.  I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Syd’s…I like the atmosphere and the service, but there’s no way I’d order their tenderloin again.

Syd’s is located at 808 Logan Street in Noblesville, Indiana.

Pat Flynn’s Pub, Indianapolis

Pat Flynn’s Neighborhood Pub is one of those places that seems to have a VERY loyal following, despite the fact that I don’t recall EVER seeing them advertised anywhere.  I was only vaguely aware of them until we ended up meeting some friends there for dinner this weekend.

I found a few folks who had been there before, and they simply raved about their food and prices.  Most of them recommended their burgers or wings, but I couldn’t wait to get there and see if they had a tenderloin on the menu.

This is another one of those strip mall places that is very deceiving on the outside…it looks small and cramped, but when you enter, it simply opens up to a very large dining area, separate bar area, and a game room for kids of all ages, including pool, darts, and several skill cranes.

The service is prompt and friendly, and the menu is varied….everything from typical pub fare, to steaks, seafood, and several daily specials.  I found their prices to be quite reasonable compared to most other places in the area.

Of course, I chose the breaded tenderloin.  Before ordering, I asked the waitress how it was, and she said, “wonderful”…so I had high hopes.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The breading was wonderfully crisp and flaky, and the menu states that they get their meat fresh daily from the local butcher shop.  There wasn’t a piece of gristle to be found in the entire sandwich, and the meat was as tender as any piece I’ve ever had.  The breading stayed crisp and flaky throughout the life of the sandwich, and the cornmeal flavor of the breading perfectly complimented the mild flavor of the meat.

The waitress was attentive and brought the condiments exactly as I ordered them, with a nice, ample slice of onion.  The bun was fresh and nicely toasted.

The price?  A bargain.  Pat Flynn’s breaded tenderloin goes for $5.95, and that includes chips.  Fries will cost you $1.00 more, onion rings, $1.50.  I opted for the rings and I’m glad I did…they were crisp on the outside, nice and tender on the inside, just like onion rings should be.  I highly recommend spending the extra $1.50 for them.

Pat Flynn’s holds it own against any restaurant in town.  There’s no way I can even consider giving this less than a 5 out of 5…as good as it gets.

I’ll go on to say that everything looks good on the menu.  Holly had a spinach melt and she said it was the best she’d ever had.  Wonderful atmosphere, great service, and a complete menu…I’ll certainly go back here.

And as much as I’d like to try something different from the menu, as good as this tenderloin was…I’m not sure that I will.

Pat Flynn’s is all ages, non-smoking, and is located at 5198 Allisonville Road in Indianapolis.

The Tip Top Tavern, Indianapolis

The Tip Top Tavern is a bar/restaurant just north of Downtown Indianapolis, located on North Capitol Street.

I couldn’t get a picture of the outside, as it was dark, but as you can see by this picture, the bar itself is just beautiful!

The interior is decorated with some really cool, funky stuff…chicken wire sculptures, advertising signs, and a few television sets are scattered here and there.  This is NOT a sports bar…but there are a few sets, with the volume turned down low, usually tuned to some kind of sports.

That’s one of my main gripe with most modern day sports bars…the main emphasis seems to be the number and volume of the televisions, and the food and drink are an afterthought.

I’m impressed with the Tip Top because they seem to be bucking this trend.  It’s got a nice, neighborhood bar feel, and it’s all about the food and drink.  And music, also, as they have a nice stage and lots and lots of  live music.

I didn’t come tonight to review a tenderloin…I came for the music and had no plans to eat.  But…sometimes opportunity knocks.

Those of you who follow me on a regular basis know that my last 3 reviews have been less than stellar, and I was WAY past due for a true hoosier tenderloin.

As I hope you can tell by the picture, that’s exactly what I got.   From the first bite, I knew I had a winner.

The meat itself is nice and tender, and it’s pounded out thin, but not TOO thin.  The breading is REALLY crunchy, and stays nice and thick without getting soggy as you go through this sandwich.

The bun is nicely toasted…nice and crisp around the edges, yet still soft in the middle..well done indeed.

And, no skimping on the condiments on this one!  Plenty of them, piled high on the plate.

The fries were quite good…nice, thin ones, similar to Steak and Shake.  They’re not the best fries I’ve ever had, but they’re very good.

So, let’s recap.  Nice, moist, tasty meat.  Great breading.  Perfectly toasted bun.  Plenty of condiments.  I’ve slept on it, and I’m going with my original impression…it’s a 5 out of 5….as good as anything in town.

I’m going to recommend TWO things here.  1).  When you want a really great tenderloin, go get this one.  2)  Order an extra bun, and share it with a friend.  there’ll be plenty for both of you.

The Breaded Tenderloin at The Tip Top Tavern sells for $7.95.  Worth every penny.

The Tip Top Tavern is located at 1341 N Capitol in Indy.  They’re open for lunch and dinner, and the kitchen closes around 10:30 PM.