Smee’s Place, Indianapolis

 

Smees

Smee’s Place is a pub/restaurant at 86th and Ditch in Indy that I’d heard about, but not visited.  

It’s located in a strip mall that isn’t real visible from 86th street, so it’s not a place one is likely to stumble upon…I suspect the vast majority of their business comes from word of mouth, as opposed to folks seeing it and dropping in.

We were meeting our friend Richard for supper to talk about an upcoming project, and he was actually the one who suggested it, otherwise, I’m not sure we would’ve stopped there.  It’s in a part of town we don’t frequent much (even though it’s pretty close to home).

I really liked the vibe from the minute I stepped in the door.  Lots and lots of woodwork, nice lighting level, and even though it got crowded as the evening went on, the noise level was perfect for carrying on a conversation without feeling like I was straining to hear.

The menu is what I would call “upscale pub”…many of their sandwiches and dishes have a bit of a twist to them.   On their website, they proclaim “Fresh food and a friendly atmosphere” and that is spot on.  From the hostess to the server, everyone was friendly and professional.

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I chose the hand breaded tenderloin.  It’s served on a brioche bun, and although I’m not a huge fan of “fancy” buns, I’ll say this one was really good and complimented the sandwich perfectly.

From the first bite, I was impressed with this sandwich.  The meat was nice and tender, and the breading was, again, the perfect complement to the meat.  Nice and crisp, it was appropriately seasoned, and didn’t overwhelm the taste of the meat.

In addition, I really liked the size of this sandwich.  It was enough for a hearty meal, but not so huge as to be overwhelming.  I’m giving this sandwich a 5 out of 5 bites, no question about it.  The price is right, also – $8.95 with a side of fries.

For her dinner, Holly chose the fish tacos.  They are served with a generous serving of Basa, shredded lettuce, and diced tomato.  The fish is grilled, not fried – which is exactly what she wanted.  Fish tacos are often Holly’s “go-to” dish on any menu and for the price of $14.95, she was anticipating the best fish tacos she’d ever tasted.  She reports them to be good, and filling – but not stellar.  When we go back to Smee’s, she will definitely try something else on the menu.  That being said, she HIGHLY RECOMMENDS the lemon rum cake!

Smee’s Place is located at 86th and Ditch.  You can find them online at www.smeesplace.com

Ray’s Drive In, Kokomo, Indiana

Rays outside

 

Ray’s Drive In, in Kokomo, is one of those places I’ve heard about for quite some time, but when we were in Kokomo it wasn’t mealtime, so we’d not had the chance to visit.

Friday we had the opportunity to go up to Kokomo for lunch, so we called our friend Doug Arnold up there, and asked him if he’d like to meet us, and luckily, his schedule allowed it!

Ray’s is located in a mixed industrial/commercial area of Kokomo, off of the beaten path.  It’s one of those places that you likely won’t just stumble upon (unless you’re lost!).  You will have to seek it out.

It’s an old, 50’s style drive in, but it also has an inside dining room which has obviously been added on much later.  They have curb service, but I’m not much of a fan of eating in the car…I spend enough time in the car as it is.  So when I have a chance I want to get out and stretch my legs, I like to take advantage of it!  We chose do dine inside.  The dining room is small, but comfortable with some pictures of the history of Ray’s on the walls.

They menu is a mix of traditional diner food (sandwiches, fries, etc.) and comfort food.  On the menu, there are 3 tenderloins listed…the king tenderloin, a tenderloin, and a mini tenderloin.  I asked our friendly waitress what the difference was, and she explained that the tenderloin and the mini tenderloin are fritters, but the King Tenderloin is hand made in house.  So, of course, I chose the King Tenderloin.

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The sign outside proclaims Ray’s as “Home of Indiana’s Largest Tenderloin” and if it’s not, I’ll be surprised.  This is one big sandwich.  It’s appears to be hand pounded and breaded, given the uneven shape, and the meat itself was a bit thicker in some places than in others.  The meat itself was tasty and moist, and I LOVED the texture of the breading.  The flavor of the breading was good, but in my opinion fell a bit short of outstanding.  For my personal taste, I think a bit more seasoning is in order.

And, although this sandwich is thinner than I prefer, I still like it a lot and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again…although I’ll share it with someone the next time I order it.   I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.  Had it been a little thicker and seasoned a bit more, I’d give it a 5 out of 5, no doubt.

For her lunch, Holly had a half order of chicken and noodles.  The lunch platter comes with mashed potatoes and gravy, an additional side, and a choice of bread.  This classic comfort food lunch was very basic and filling.

Ray’s Drive In is located at 1900 N Courtland Avenue, Kokomo, Indiana.  I was unable to locate a website or Facebook page for them.

The Lemon Drop, Anderson, Indiana

Lemon Drop Outside

 

There are places that try to be retro and take you back to the 50’s, and you end up getting overpriced frozen burgers and fries, and leave feeling empty and hollow inside.

Then there are places that really DO take you back to the 50’s, you get a good meal for a good price, and you leave feeling satisfied and happy.  The Lemon Drop is one of those places.

It’s been a gathering place in Anderson, Indiana since 1954, and who knows how many thousands of regular people, and more than a few celebrities have passed through the doors since then, even though it only seats 27 people.  That’s right, folks, the seating capacity is 27.

You’ll not find any gourmet food here, and the menu is pretty limited.  Burgers, fries, onion rings, tenderloins, chili, and that’s about it.  But it’s good, and, at least to me, the atmosphere is amazing.

Their flagship burger is the Onionburger, and, until this day, that is all I’d ever had there.  If you like burgers, you can’t go wrong with an Onionburger.

But, I had it on a good authority that The Lemon Drop serves a pretty darn good tenderloin, so I decided to give it a try.

Lemon Drop Loin

This is no “hang over the bun” sandwich.  Instead, it fits neatly into the bun. It’s thinner than I prefer, but it works for me.  The breading is nice and crunchy and the meat is tender, moist, and tasty.  The bun is nicely toasted, and the condiments were plentiful.  And, the price is right…this sandwich was roughly $4.39.  A bargain in my book!  While it’s not the best tenderloin I’ve ever had, it’s certainly above average.  I’m going to give it 4 out of 5 bites.

For her lunch, Holly ordered a toasted cheeseburger, which is one of their signature patties with cheese, served on toasted bread, dressed as you like – which for Holly, included lettuce and tomato.  Before serving it, they cut it in half first…just like Mom used to do.  And the taste reminded her of home, too – which is a good thing.  It was a simple, juicy burger that was just the right size for lunch.

I want to make a couple of special notes.  First – the service.  Being inexpensive is no bargain if the service is shoddy.  Service here is top notch.  We were greeted promptly, our order was taken in just a minute or two, and our food was prepared and served very shortly after that.

Secondly – the price.  My wife and I had two sandwiches, two sides (fries for her, onion rings for me which were fantastic) and 2 drinks all for just a hair over 15 bucks.  Combined with the service and the quality of the food, there’s no question in my mind why The Lemon Drop stays so busy.  I HIGHLY recommend a visit here, if you’ve not been already.

The Lemon Drop is located at 1701 Mounds Road in Anderson, Indiana.  I was unable to find a web site for them, but they do have a Facebook page.

Syd’s, Noblesville, Indiana

SYd's Sign

Although most locals just call it “Syd’s”, the true name is “Syd’s Fine Food and Spirits”.

Sitting on the courthouse square in Noblesville, Indiana, Syd’s is part bar, part restaurant, and full of history.  The front is a typical small town/neighborhood bar, complete with shuffleboard, lots of neon, and televisions turned to sports, and the back room is a family dining area.

I’d been to Syd’s (and reviewed it) a number of years ago, but I’d heard the ownership is different now, so we decided to give them a try on one of the rare occasions we actually go out for lunch.

The menu is pretty typical pub fare…burgers, pizza, a steak or two, nachos, and a surprise or two thrown in.  They also have a “light” menu section, which seems to be half sandwich and soup or salad combinations.

Of course, I was there to try their hand breaded tenderloin.  As you can tell, this tenderloin is pounded out quite large, which means very thin.  Those of you who are regular readers know that this isn’t my preference of tenderloin.  I prefer a thicker, less pounded out piece of meat.

Syd's loin

In addition to being pounded out very thin, I could hardly detect any seasoning at all. The meat (and seasoning) wasn’t BAD, mind you, it was just bland.  The texture was fine (or, as fine as could be with it so thin), but the taste just wasn’t there.

There were hits and misses with this sandwich.  Hits:  Hand breaded, fresh, toasted bun, dressed as requested.  Misses:  Bland and far too thin.  Overall, I’m going to give it a 3.  Again, it’s not had….it just doesn’t rise above average in score…especially at 9 bucks and a little change for the sandwich and a side.

For her lunch, Holly had one of the light options – a half turkey sandwich and side salad.  She said the turkey was moist and tender, as well as smoked, which was a nice surprise.  The side salad was very basic.  They have several light dressing options.

Syd’s is located on the Courthouse Square in Noblesville, Indiana.  You can find them online at www.sydsfinefood.com

 

 

Montgomery’s Steakhouse, Spiceland, Indiana

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Montgomery’s Steakhouse personifies a restaurant “out in the middle of nowhere”.  It’s located in the little hamlet of Spiceland, Indiana, south of New Castle, just off of the intersection of State Road 3 and I-70.

The parking lot is huge, and for good reason…this is a HUGE facility!  2 big dining rooms, a very large bar, and an area they call “The Back Porch”, where they have outdoor concerts in the summer.  They draw some pretty large crowds, with groups like 38 Special, Confederate Railroad, and more.

We were there for a comedy night, which was held in one of the dining rooms.  It’s got a very cozy feel that makes it seems intimate, in spite of its massive size.

As a steakhouse, they’re menu definitely runs towards the beef side.  There are a lot of steaks, of course, a very complete appetizer menu, some desserts, and more.

I spied ”hand breaded tenderloin” on the menu, and asked our server if it was done in house, and she told me indeed, it is, so I decided to give it a try.

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This is one of the thicker…perhaps THE thickest breaded tenderloin I’ve had.  It’s a hefty sandwich, to be sure.  Was it too thick?  For me, no, it wasn’t.  But, for some folks who prefer a thinner sandwich, it might well be.

The breading was nice and crunchy.  It wasn’t as seasoned as some I’ve had, still, it was very good.  The meat itself had a good flavor…not outstanding, but above average.  However, at least one bite had a hunk of gristle in it.  I realize this happens from time to time, but it does detract from the overall rating of the sandwich.

I ordered a side of onion rings, and I gotta say, those are some FANTASTIC onion rings.  Obviously hand breaded, done perfectly, some of the very best I’ve EVER had.  And I’ve had a lot of onion rings!

I’m really torn on how to rate this sandwich.  It’s good, but finding a nice hunk of gristle can’t help but bring the rating down.  Still, I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 bites.  It’s a little above average, and I’d order it again when I’m there.

For her dinner, Holly had the veggie burger and a side of steamed broccoli.  The veggie burger was average – nothing spectacular.  The broccoli florets were smaller than usual, which made them kind of difficult to eat with a fork, but other than that, the taste and level of “doneness” was fine.

I’ve got to give a shout out to the service.  With it being a special event night, I didn’t know what to expect.  They did a GREAT job on serving the crowd.

Montgomery’s is located just south of the intersection of I-70 and Highway 3 in Spiceland, Indiana.  You can find them online at:  http://www.montgomeryssteakhouse.com/

Guest review: Corky’s restaurant, Danville, Indiana

Corkey’s Fabulous 50’s Restaurant

Danville, Indiana

http://corkeysrestaurant.com

When it comes to my dining experiences, there are few things I enjoy more than the playing of 50’s music in the background and, I’ll admit it, a good ole’ fashioned waitress who calls me “honey” and sounds like she means it.

I received both in abundance during a recent visit to Corkey’s Fabulous 50’s Restaurant, a 50’s themed casual diner in Danville, Indiana located at 745 E. Main Street right next to Pence Automotive. Located within a few blocks of both downtown Danville and the nearby Hendricks Regional Health, Corkey’s Fabulous 50’s Restaurant opened up about a year ago in one of those non-descript buildings where you struggle to remember what it used to be but think to yourself “This is perfect for an old diner.”

I’d also been looking for the perfect opportunity to write a guest column for my good buddy Rick Garrett’s “Tenderloin Connoisseur” blog, and as I was driving up to visit a relative in the nearby Hendricks Regional Health it occurred to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to relax a bit before a hospital visit, check out Corkey’s, and finally snag that long desired guest column.

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When you enter Corkey’s, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a 50’s themed restaurant with checkboard linoleum flooring, the obligatory jukebox, a life-sized Marilyn Monroe figurine and constantly playing 50’s music at an easy to the ears volume that allows you to appreciate the music while still having conversations.

The waitresses, at least on this occasion, weren’t quite decked out in your traditional 50’s garb but definitely had a retro vibe with blue jeans and plaid tops and a 50’s style “come on in” attitude that instantly made me feel welcome even as a city boy in this small town just to the west of Indianapolis.

Of course, I was really here to sample the tenderloin sandwich and, much to my delight, it just so happened to be on special during my visit. The “juicy, pork tenderloin” comes standard with tomatoes, lettuce, and onion on a fresh bun with a pickle spear on the side. The special includes either french fries, a side salad or the soup of the day for $6.99. While I certainly don’t fancy myself a tenderloin expert like Rick Garrett, I had no problem choosing breaded over grilled and had no problem determining that this abundant specimen of a sandwich was “really” hand-breaded.

I’m a bit of a purist and opted to order my sandwich plain and with fries on the side along with my customary unsweetened iced tea. My iced tea arrived quickly and I settled in to enjoy the ambience and my newspaper until my food arrived.

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When the sandwich arrived, I looked at it and went “WOW!” It was a far more substantial sandwich than expected with the tenderloin clearly overwhelming what is best described as a fairly basic poppy seed styled sandwich bun.

Unfortunately, this is where the “WOW!” factor really ended. While the sandwich is a better than average sandwich, the taste doesn’t quite match up to the presentation. The meat was thick but not, in fact, particularly juicy and the breading, which had a kind of southern style cornmeal taste to it, lacked the zesty flavor that I value from a truly fantastic tenderloin sandwich. The best word that I can think of to describe the sandwich is “bland.” The meat was surprisingly bland and the run-of-the-mill bun only added to the blandness.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the sandwich, but not nearly as much as I was hoping as it arrived at my table and I looked at its beautiful presentation. I’d easily give it 3 out of 5 bites. The french fries on the side were lightly seasoned and tasty. As a meal combo, the tenderloin sandwich and fries was more than enough for this hearty appetite and I found myself completely unable to even contemplate dessert options that include everything from hand dipped ice cream (at only $.99 a scoop!) to shakes, floats and your expected 50’s diner fare.

The service was for the most part stellar, attentive without being invasive. It was a joy to look around and see that the waitresses clearly took time to talk “to” their customers and not “at” them. It was clear that more than a few diners were Corkey’s regulars, and the rapport between the servers and the customers appeared to be quite genuine, light-hearted and caring. The only slight “glitch” came in needing to ask for an iced tea refill, something that should never have to happen when a restaurant advertises free refills and the server has visited my table multiple times.

Fortunately, the server was readily available and offered me a “to go” cup so I could have an icedtea with me as I readied myself for another hospital visit.

As a consumer in a wheelchair, I do always consider the “accessibility” issue when choosing my dining establishments. While Corkey’s has marked off a couple of parking spots that are clearly designed to be “accessible,” it is worth noting that they are not appropriately marked as disabledvparking and I could easily see them being taken by customers without disabilities. Entering thevrestaurant is a breeze, however, with two easy to maneuver front entry doors and a wide openvconcept restaurant that easily allows for adapting a dining experience when needed. Because thevservers were so incredibly friendly, I can easily see them offering assistance should a diner with avdisability require it.

The big questions I always ask myself as I leave a restaurant is “Will I go back?” and “Will Ivhave this meal again?”

Yes and no.

I will definitely go back to Corkey’s Fabulous 50’s Restaurant. For less than $10, I enjoyedvgood food, terrific service and a fun and casual atmosphere. Corkey’s is easily worth a trip out of Indianapolis to enjoy the day in the delightful community of Danville, Indiana. If you’re there all day, you can enjoy Corkey’s for lunch then head into downtown Danville to enjoy the beloved Mayberry Cafe for dinner. That’s what I would call the absolutely perfect day.

Corkey’s offers a rather delightful menu ranging from your usual 50’s diner fare to such southern comfort favorites as country fried steak, beef manhattan, meatloaf and more. The next time around, I’ll probably try myself a burger or I may even go all out and check out the meatloaf.

Route 67 Bar and Grill, Mooresville, Indiana

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Holly and I had heard of the Route 67 Bar and Grill from several friends, and we were looking for the opportunity to try it.  We seldom get out to Mooresville, but we had a meeting with some folks so this was the perfect chance.

The Route 67 Bar and Grill is located in a little strip mall, very close to Grey’s cafeteria.  It’s not terribly convenient to get to…you have to cut across a gas station parking lot to get to it, but it’s worth the effort.

Upon entering, the first thing I saw was a very large aquarium, a nice touch!  The bartender greeting us warmly, and we were shown to a table for dinner and to conduct our business.

I have to say…I’m seldom felt as welcomed in a restaurant as I did here.  The folks really seemed to appreciate the fact that we chose their place for dinner.  That, alone, makes me want to return and patronize them again.

On the menu, they advertise their “big, sexy tenderloin”.  You can get it either breaded or grilled, and, of course, I chose the breaded version.

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This is one HUGE tenderloin.  And it’s perhaps the biggest bun I’ve ever seen in my life.  Seriously.  I’m not sure the scale of this sandwich comes through in the photograph, but you’d better be hungry if you intend on eating it.  Better yet, plan on sharing.

This sandwich is certainly hand breaded.  Not only is it huge, it’s thick, also, which is my preference.  It LOOKS good….however, there’s a problem.  When the sandwich came out, it was already starting to get soggy.  Maybe not terribly so, but enough to detract from the taste and texture.  That’s the problem with a huge sandwich….keeping it fresh and crisp in almost unmanageable.

The meat was tasty, but the sogginess of the breading certainly took away from that.  Don’t get me wrong….it wasn’t terrible.  It just wasn’t great.  On a scale of 0-5 bites, I’ll give it 2.5, just average.

For her meal, Holly chose the Black and Blue Salad.  She ordered the steak medium and it came out just as she had asked.  The dressing (blue cheese) was good and as an added bonus, they put blue cheese crumbles on as well, which took an above average black and blue salad to the next level!  It was the perfect size – an excellent dinner salad she said she wouldn’t hesitate to order again.

All in all, it was a very good experience.  The service was outstanding, the price was right, and the atmosphere was warm and friendly.  We’ll certainly go back.  Be aware, they are 21 and over, and they are a smoking restaurant. However….I DO believe this was the least smoky of any smoking restaurant I’ve ever been to.

 
Route 66 Bar and Grill is located at 600 S State Road 67 in Mooresville, Indiana.  They have a website at:  http://route67barandgrill.biz/