McGilvrey’s Pub and Eatery, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Speedway)

J.E._McGilvery_s_Pub_and_Eatery

McGilvrey’s Pub and Eatery is a racing-themed bar/restaurant on the West side of Indianapolis, in the town of Speedway.  I’ve known of McGilvrey’s for quite some time (I used to live on the West side), but didn’t have a chance to visit until last week.

It’s nicely appointed in race decor, and it’s larger than it looks from the outside.  We visited on a weeknight, when the weather wasn’t very good, and expected it to be empty, but it was pretty well packed. It was obvious that nearly everyone there were regulars, as they obviously knew each other by name.

Their menu offers their “famous” hand breaded tenderloin in two sizes, a large and a baby.  I opted for the large.

Tenderloin edited photo

The sandwich was obviously hand breaded and the meat was fresh and tender.  Sadly, there just wasn’t much flavor to either the meat or the breading…it was quite bland.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a BAD tenderloin…it just wasn’t especially good.  It was also pounded out VERY thin, which isn’t my preference.

It was served as I requested (Onion, mayo, and ketchup) and I opted for the standard side of chips.  All in all, I’d give the sandwich a 3.  It’s average, and, personally, I wouldn’t order it again.  But if you prefer a thinner, less seasoned tenderloin, you might find this to your liking.
My wife had a pub salad and breaded mushrooms.  The salad was pretty basic – chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, and a slice of radish here and there.  The Italian dressing was really good.  The breaded mushrooms were very good.  You can get them with a side of ranch or marinara.

A couple of things left this visit less than stellar.  First, the service was not that great.  It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t especially friendly nor prompt.  I had to flag our waitress down after the meal, after waiting a while for our check, to actually get our check.

Secondly, it’s a smoking establishment.  I’m not really sure how that happened, because I thought all of Marion County was non-smoking.  But, there were a LOT of smokers in the bar and it detracted from our overall experience.

McGilvrey’s is located at 3009 N High School Road in Indianapolis.  I couldn’t locate a web page for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Dear John’s Pub, Indianapolis

Dear John’s is a neighborhood pub located on the East side of Indianapolis. It’s nestled in an older, small, strip mall and appears pretty generic from the outside.

 Inside, it’s a long, narrow building that looks just like, well, a neighborhood bar. It’s got Colts and Pacers posters on the wall, some Purdue and IU items, a jukebox and a few video games.

 As you enter, the first thing you’ll see is the carry out area, which looks kind of like a liquor store. Then you enter the bar area, and then a somewhat separate dining area.

 The menu is pretty much standard bar fare; sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and on Saturday nights, a steak special. When I saw that they offered their tenderloin either breaded or grilled, I assumed it would be hand breaded and chose that.

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And, indeed, it appears to be hand breaded. The breading is nice and crispy and doesn’t get soggy. The breading not only has a good texture, it was quite tasty also! The sandwich isn’t greasy at all, and was cooked perfectly.

 The meat was pounded out a little thinner than I prefer, but not TOO much…just a little. I can live with that. However, the meat was pretty dry and bland. This COULD have been a VERY good tenderloin if a better piece of meat was used. The way it stands right now, I’d give it 3 out of 5 bites….a little above average. The sandwich was served dressed exactly as I requested, and the service was very good indeed.

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I MUST say a word about the onion rings. I’m even going to include a photo! They’re different than any other onion rings I’ve ever had, and they were quite tasty. I’d certainly order them again. If you order them, you’d better be very hungry or prepared to share them. There is a LOT of food here.

For her meal, Holly chose a basic grilled chicken sandwich with tomato and onion. She chose a garden salad with fat free Italian dressing for her side. The sandwich came dressed as requested. The chicken was well seasoned and flavorful. There was nothing outstanding here, just good, basic bar food.

 Dean John’s Pub is located at 7941 E 30 but they do have a Facebook page.

 

 

 

street in Indianapolis. I was unable to find a website for them,

George’s Neighborhood Grill, Indianapolis

George’s Neighborhood Grill is a place I’d never heard of until a few weeks ago, when we came upon a coupon for them, and decided to give them a try. The first night we were there, I wasn’t in the mood for a tenderloin (I must have been ill!) and opted for a steak instead. The experience was very good, so we decided to return and give the breaded tenderloin a try.

George’s is in on of those seemingly thousands of identical strip malls that dot the north side of Indy. It appears they have patio seating during warm weather.  Upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly hostess, and shown to our table. We were meeting a friend…who also does reviews….for a dual review.  He had already arrived and had his iced tea, so we sat and visited a bit before ordering our meal.

Right off the bat, George’s gets very high marks for their service.  Since we were visiting with a dear friend, we sat and chatted for a bit before actually starting to peruse the menu. Our waitress did a fine job of balancing the line between attentive and hovering.  Never did we feel rushed, but when we wanted to order, she was there promptly.

George’s has a wonderful menu, and, although it looks a bit fancy, they have a wide range of prices…from a couple of sandwiches in the 6-9 dollar range with a side, to steaks and seafood in the 20 dollar per meal range.

I, of course, chose the tenderloin, which is hand breaded on site.  It looked really outstanding!  It’s large without being overwhelming, and it’s not pounded out paper thin, leaving the meat thick enough to really get the flavor of it.  I’ve touched on this before, but so many breaded tenderloins are pounded SO thin that one can’t distinguish between the taste of the breading and the taste of the meat.  That’s certainly not the case here.

First bite, the flavor of the meat was outstanding.  Nice, tender, and moist, just like it should be.  The breading was very good, yet fell short of remarkable. It had a decent flavor, but could have benefited from some seasoning.

However, there was a bit of a problem with this sandwich.  Within the first 3 or 4 bites, the sandwich and breading became soggy. One of the signs of a truly great tenderloin is that the breading retains its crunch throughout the life of the sandwich, and this one certainly didn’t.

Still, it was a good tenderloin. I’m going to give it 3.5 out of 5 bites…above average but not great.

Holly chose the grilled fish tacos, and she reported that they were exceptional.  They are served with modest toppings and nice sized, flaky pieces of fish, along with a dollop of fresh salsa on the side. You get your choice of side with this entree and she chose the green beans.  Cooked al dente with a light, garlicky flavor, they were a nice compliment to the piquant tacos.

As an appetizer, we chose breaded mushrooms.  As a general rule, we’ve found that you just never know what you’re going to get with breaded mushrooms unless you ask first, but since everything else we’d had here was above average, we decided to take a chance.  These are some of the most outstanding breaded mushrooms we’ve ever tasted!  For starters, they are made with whole, FRESH mushrooms.  Not jarred…not marinated in a salty brine…FRESH.  And they didn’t pick the tiniest mushrooms either.  Our order contained premium medium to extra large ‘shrooms!  The breading was tender, flaky and crispy – and they were served nice and hot with not one, but two dipping sauces…a horseradish cocktail sauce and ranch dressing.  We would make a return trip in a heartbeat JUST for the breaded mushrooms!

Overall, George’s was a very, very good experience.  The service, atmosphere, and food are well worth returning for, and often.

For a review of their burger…and other insights, please visit my co-reviewer’s blog at www.thegimpgoesshopping.wordpress.com

George’s Neighborhood Grill is located at 6935 Lake Plaza Drive in Indianapolis.  You can visit them on the web at:www.georgesneighborhoodgrill.com.

Oaken Barrel, Greenwood, Indiana

The Oaken Barrel in Greenwood is a place I’ve been aware of for quite some time now.  It seems to be quite popular, but it seems we rarely find ourselves in Greenwood with any time to spare. This week gave us the opportunity to stop and enjoy a relaxing dinner before taking care of some business in the area.

The restaurant is nicely decorated with posters, prints, and I would call it “pleasantly busy”.  There is plenty of stuff to look it, yet not so much that it’s distracting.

It’s the same with TVs.  There are a few scattered around, but there are ample places to sit and enjoy a conversation without being in sight of a TV. I appreciate this!

The menu is  quite varied, with everything from burgers to pizza to steak  and much more.   And, if you are a beer fan, there are a number of different options available for you.

I wasn’t sure if they even offered a breaded tenderloin, but since they were on the way to where we were going, I decided to give them a try. I saw one on the menu, and asked the waitress “how is your breaded tenderloin” and…this is the FIRST time this has happened….she said “It’s NOT a fritter”.  So…of course, this is what I ordered!

The sandwich is nice sized, although it IS pounded out just a bit thinner than is my personal preference.  But, being  largely a matter of personal preference, that won’t affect the score.

The meat itself is VERY good!  Tender and moist, with a very nice flavor.  Perhaps not the VERY best I’ve tasted, but it certainly ranks up there with the top.

The breading, although very good, leaves a little something to be desired.  Yes, it’s good,  VERY good.  But it is lacking that little extra “oomph” that takes it over the top.

That said, it’s a VERY good sandwich, that falls just shy of the 5/5 rating that is breaded heaven.  The bun is nicely toasted, it was served dressed exactly as I requested, and it’s well above average. I’m going to give it a 4 out of 5 bites, which means that it’s well above average, and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to order it again on my next stop…and we will certainly be back!

The french fries were among the best I’ve ever had.  Beer battered and done perfectly, you won’t go wrong with  them. Holly chose the broiled seafood platter,which consisted of tilapia, shrimp,and scallops, and raved about how good that was.

Our dinner at the Oaken Barrel was a great experience.  It’s one of those restaurants that we’ll make a point to go to again. Oaken Barrel is located at 50 N Airport Parkway in Greenwood, or you can find them online at http://www.oakenbarrel.com

J. T. Johnson’s, Indianapolis (Southport)

Holly and I had been on the road playing music, and we were hot, tired, ready for a break from the road and a good meal.

As we approached the south side of Indy, we remember J. T. Johnson’s American Grill, and recalled that we’d been meaning to try that place.  So, in we went for a relaxing dinner, rest from the road, and a good meal.

We were seated promptly by a courteous hostess, given our menus, and started to peruse them, while we waited for someone to come take our drink orders.

And we waited.  And we waited.  And, then, we waited some more.

Finally, a waitress came over and said  “Has anyone taken your order?”, and I said “no”, fully expecting her to take our order.  Instead, she yelled across the room to another waitress, and said  “Hey!  This is your table”.  The other waitress yelled back  “No, it’s YOUR table”.  They weren’t arguing…it was more like friendly bantering…however…we’d been waiting a long time and STILL had no service.

To make a long story short, they finally decided who’s table it was, and the waitress was very apologetic and helpful.  We had had ample time to peruse the menu, and I saw that they described their tenderloin as “an old family recipe, handed down for centuries”, so, of course, that’s what I ordered.

 
When it came I was stunned at just how large it was.  This thing is HUGE.  Often, when I see one that big, it’s pounded out paper thin, but that wasn’t the case with this one.  It had a nice heft to it.  I took a bite, and the breading was very, very good.  Really good texture, and outstanding flavor.  The breading itself certainly rates a 5 out of 5.

I wish I could say the same about the meat.  It was just..well…awful.  Tough and stringy…it might have been the worst piece of tenderloin I’ve ever tasted.  Add to that, the fact that about 1/2 through the sandwich, I encountered a HUGE piece of gristle the required me to discard 1/2 of the meat….it was a complete failure.  I very seldom do this, but I’m giving this sandwich a 0 out of 5, as it was technically inedible.

Holly had a Southsider sandwich that consisted of Beef Brisket, Cheddar cheese, grilled onions and horseradish sauce….and…it wasn’t much better.  The meat was absolutely full of fat….much more than any standard piece of brisket…and was bland and tasteless.

I seldom make comments about restrooms, but in this case, it merits a comment.  The men’s restroom was absolutely horrid.  Trashcan filled and overflowing onto the floor, a stopped up sink with rancid water standing in it….just terrible.

It was really a substandard experience.  J.T. Johnson’s has a great location and facility.  It’s a shame that their food and service don’t back that up.

Casler’s Kitchen and Bar, Fishers, Indiana

Casler’s Kitchen and Bar is one of those places that I had vaguely heard about, but I’m not sure from whom…and I really wasn’t sure where it was located.

We had some errands to run, and were looking for some place for supper, and drove right by it..and decided to turn in.

Part sports bar, part family restaurant, Casler’s has the potential to try to do too many things at once, ultimately failing at all of them…but kudos to Casler’s…they do it and they do it well.
It’s a very comfortable atmosphere, and whether you’re a sports fan, live music fan, or want a nice dinner with your family, you’ll feel welcome here.

I honestly wasn’t sure if they had a breaded tenderloin or not…..but they advertise a hand cut tenderloin on their menu, offering it either breaded or grilled.  I chose the breaded…of course. :)

It’s a nice sized sandwich, pounded just a little thinner than I prefer, but not paper thin.  The meat, while not outstanding in flavor, is certainly above average.
The breading is really good…the texture is a little different than what I’m used to, but I liked it quite a lot.  I’m not sure exactly what’s IN the breading, but it works and works well.

They brought the sandwich dressed just as I requested, however….they skimped on the onion.  Two little rings.  When we say we want onions, we want onions! :)

The sandwich is served on an egg bun that is really, really good!  It’s a different taste/texture than the standard bun, and with this sandwich, it worked very, very well.

I’m giving Casler’s breaded tenderloin a 4 out of 5 bites.  It’s not perfect, but it’s well above average and I’ll certainly order it again when I’m there.
As a nice change of pace, they offer tater tots as a side…and, oh my, they were VERY good!

Holly had the steak dinner special…a sirloin steak, grilled veggies, and mashed potatoes for $8.99.  She pronounced that dinner “Fantastic”.

Casler’s is located at 11501 Geist Pavilion Drive in Fishers, Indiana.  You can find them online at http://www.caslers.com

John’s Famous Stew, Indianapolis

John’s Famous Stew is famous for…yes, you guessed it, stew.  It’s one of those largely undiscovered treasures in Indianapolis that thrives in spite of a less than ideal location, and seemingly no advertising except for word of mouth.  They do a thriving lunch and dinner business, and you simply can’t go wrong with a visit there.

Even though they’re famous for stew, they have several other options on the menu as well…one of them being a hand breaded tenderloin.  I’ve been meaning to get down and try one for quite some time now, but haven’t had the chance.  On this particular day, I was meeting my dear friend Dean Phelps for a long delayed lunch, and picked John’s partly because I wanted to try the tenderloin, and partly because Dean had never been there.

The lunchtime crowd was a nice mix of business people and blue collar workers, kind of like the great melting pot of near downtown Indy.  That’s what their menu is like also…although it prominently features stew, there’s a little bit of everything else on the menu.

I only perused the rest of the menu, as I was there for the tenderloin.

And it’s a pretty darn fine tenderloin indeed.  The meat is tasty, tender, and moist, and the breading is nice and crunchy.  One of the signs of a really good tenderloin is whether the breading gets soggy during the end of the sandwich.  I took longer to eat this sandwich than most, due to the fact that when Dean and I start conversing, we usually talk a long time…and I’m happy to report that the breading stayed nice and crispy to the very end.

The bun was very nicely toasted….I prefer my buns toasted perhaps a bit more than a lot of folks, and this one certainly fit the bill…and our friendly waitress paid attention to how I wanted my sandwich dressed…a big tip ‘o the hat to her for being attentive!!

I’d really, really, really like to give this tenderloin a 5 out of 5, but I can’t.  Why?  Because it was simply pounded out too thin for my tastes.  As I’ve said before, when a sandwich is too thin, it makes it hard to distinguish between the textures of the breading and the meat, and, for me, that was the case here.  However, that’s the ONLY thing that keeps it from being a 5 start tenderloin.

That said…it still was a VERY good sandwich.  I’m going to give it a 4 out of 5, which means that I certainly would drive all the way down there for it…and it’s no short trip from my house.  And the entire experience….waitress, atmosphere, everything else on the menu…makes John’s Famous Stew a must visit, whether you’re a local or a visitor to town.

John’s Famous Stew is located at 1146 Kentucky Avenue in Indianapolis.  You can visit their website at http://www.indysfamousstew.com