The Mug in Greenfield has glowing reviews (for the most part) and has been recommended to me numerous times as having the best Breaded Tenderloin in the state. Holly and I found ourselves headed to Knightstown, Indiana where I was doing a benefit show at the Historic Hoosier Gym, so we took advantage of the situation to make a stop in Greenfield and give The Mug a try.
One of the challenges in writing about food is to maintain impartiality. I might like the business and what they do, I might know the owners personally, but in the end, it comes down to two things: how was the food and how was the experience. That being said, The Mug sources most of their food locally, and that’s a huge point in their favor. They’re a local business, not a chain, and that’s another point in their favor. Unfortunately, The Mug falls far short in several other areas.
We arrived, and our server asked us if we’d ever been there before, which we responded we had not. She took a few moments to explain the menu to us, taking pride in the fact that the food was locally sourced, and we appreciated that.
My mind was already made up; I was going for the breaded tenderloin. While Holly was choosing her meal, I observed an interaction that was unsettling to me. A diner went up to the counter and asked for silverware (plastic ware, actually, no big deal). However, I observed an employee get the utensils, drop them on the floor, pick them up, and hand them to the customer. Yes, they were wrapped, but in my mind, this is absolutely inexcusable. I’m no clean freak, but I found it quite disturbing and made me wonder what other unsanitary practices they have.
Holly decided on her meal, (more about this later) and we saw these wonderful, hand-cut fries being served. We asked if fries came with a sandwich, and our server told us we could order a combo and get fries or apple slices and a drink. Unfortunately, if you order a combo, as we found out, the hand cut fries are NOT the fries you get. If you order a combo, you get frozen out of the bag fries – which was a huge disappointment. In our server’s defense, the menu *does* list both kinds of fries as side offerings, and it does list the French Fries (not the hand cut fries) as the fries you get with your combo, but I gotta tell ya…for our first visit there, and the server KNOWING it was our first visit there, this seemed very confusing and a bit deceptive. Just a few more seconds of explanation on the server’s part could have eliminated the confusion, and we would have known exactly what to expect. But alas, that did not happen.
So, how was the tenderloin? It LOOKS good, but, actually, it’s pretty substandard. The breading is quite heavy with cornmeal, and it overpowered the taste of everything else in the sandwich, even the meat. The meat, wasn’t what I would call “bad”, but it was not as tender or moist as I expected. I also encountered two pieces of gristle in the meat, which, for me, further detracted from the experience. For a hand-breaded tenderloin, I’m going to give it a 2 out of 5 bites, a bit below average.
For her dinner, Holly chose a burger…but not just any burger – a burger she couldn’t refuse! It should be noted that, by choice, Holly does not eat a lot of red meat. Most often, she prefers chicken, fish, or even a vegetarian dish. So when she chooses to eat beef, it’s a special treat. The burger she chose was the Jalapeno Cream Cheese Bacon Burger. It was an amazing looking offering. She did not know it when she ordered it, but the jalapeno cream cheese part of the burger comes from two jalapeno poppers on the top of the burger below the crowning bun. Inherently, this is not a bad thing at all…except for one, major issue: the poppers tasted freezer burned. This one detail was enough to make the entire sandwich fall short of being edible. Add that to the fact that her combo did not include the fresh cut fries she was expecting – and this made for a quite disappointing meal.
The Mug does some things pretty well, I believe, and it’s always possible that we hit them on an off day. However, as it stands, it’s a place I would meet friends if they wanted to meet, but would not make a special trip to eat there.
The Mug is located at 117 Apple Street in Greenfield, Indiana. Their website is www.themug.com