Sunday, March 15, 2015

David's Milwaukee Diner in Hotel Pattee Perry Iowa

The Menu
The Hotel Pattee has closed and reopened more than once in the last few years. Its hard to see how a luxury hotel fits into this town in Dallas County with its packing plants and old railroad tracks. The website claims David's Milwaukee Diner is named for David Jackson Pattee, and the Milwaukee Railroad that once employed many in Perry. This diner is on the left hand side when you walk through the grand entrance.

Location: 1112 Willis Ave in Perry, Dallas County, Iowa.

Directions: Take Highway 141 north and west of suburban Des Moines, turn up Highway 144 the main road into Perry.

Online at: Website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This had some very crisp and crunchy breading that had a cracker like texture and a darker brown color. The meat had been tenderized but wasn't soft to the touch. There was a little moisture and the meat was white throughout. This had average thickness. The lack of seasoning in the breading, or any flavor was almost alleviated by the inclusion of spicy mustard. Served on a very warm bun. Overall, this was a very average tenderloin. 7.0 out of ten.

Price: $8.99 with a side, I went with the homemade chips.

Homemade Chips
Also on the menu: Lunch is a modern version diner fare, so in addition to burgers and sandwiches you have four kinds of macaroni and cheese and several salads. There is a separate menu for Breakfast and Dinner.

Service: Full service with a hostess seating you, and there is a counter selling "pattee cakes" and other things.

Ambiance: The high ceilings and old fixtures, and dark woodwork added to the ambiance. The dining area is named The Arrow Room, made to look like a train's dining car. I had never visited this space over the years, but the interior was meticulously detailed with artwork and objects reflecting Perry's railroad history.

Final Thoughts: I don't pretend to know if this incarnation of the the Hotel Pattee will stay open for the long haul. But I do know that this tenderloin will not be the make or break menu item that keeps its diner busy. Perry has some good Mexican and Latin places, and this diner seems to be banking on nostalgia to get people to visit. The space is beautiful, but the sandwich was nothing special.

Hotel Pattee
David's Milwaukee Diner at the Hotel Pattee on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oskaloosa Maid Rite

A sign on the road into Oskaloosa alerted me to a special one dollar off deal for a homemade tenderloin from the local Maid Rite franchise. I've visited plenty of Maid-Rites, and most serve frozen fritters instead of homemade pork tenderloins. I have found homemade tenderloins at Maid Rites in Cedar Rapids and Monroe, and at some family owned locations that ended their franchise agreements and don't call themselves Maid Rite anymore.

Location: 902 A Ave. West in Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, Iowa.

Directions: Ave A is Highway 92, the main drag from Highway 163 heading from Des Moines.

Online at: Facebook page is HERE.

The tenderloin: This had an obvious handmade pork loin shape, complete with a finger of meat sticking out on the side. The breading formed a tasteless and dusty layer with just minor crunch. The meat inside was a bright white that had been trimmed, it wasn't especially tender. Good moisture, but not juicy. This was a really okay tenderloin for a franchise restaurant. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Price: These are usually $4.99 and available in a basket for $7.99

Thanks Gary
Also on the menu: The usual Maid Rite Diner menu, with loosemeat burgers and fried stuff. There is a pork fritter for people who want to save a dollar and eat a pork fritter.  If they serve nachos with loose beef on top, wouldn't they be Nacho-Rites?

I was pleasantly surprised by the homemade fries, they had just the right amount of crispiness and were warm and lightly salted.
Hand cut fries
Service: I ordered at the counter, food is brought to your table.

Ambiance: This is a recently built Maid Rite franchise in the Maid-Rite Diner template. Its stuffed with retro diner decor and neon signs, there is a counter and booths and a table shaped like the Maid Rite sign.

Final Thoughts: I had stopped at Maid-Rite when my first destination, Julie's Homestyle Cafe on Market St. was closed. It turns out Julie's has some short hours, and I will have to make it back to try to eat there.

Maid-Rite on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Antler's Pub & Grill in Clare, Iowa

Clare is a town just north and west of Ft. Dodge that was settled by Irish people a long time ago. I know this because of a framed newspaper article hung on the wall at Antlers Pub & Grill, which appears to be the only bar or restaurant in the town. A recent IPPA best tenderloin contest listed Antlers Pub as a runner up.

Location:120 W. Front St in Clare, Webster County, Iowa.

Directions: If you are coming from Ft. Dodge., go north on Highway 169 until you reach county road C66 which leads to Clare.

Online at: facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This was served on a nicely toasted undersized bun that had a good bit of chewiness on its crust. The crisp breading had a nice darker brown color with a good amount of seasoning. The loin meat had a bit of a pink color and had a ton of juice inside. This reminded me of a tenderloin I ate in Dakota City with so much juiciness. Overall 8.5 out of ten.

Price: $7.95 with a side, I went with the homemade chips.

Also on the menu: Its bar food starting with burgers and fried stuff. There was chex mix in bowls at the bar when I stopped by.

Service: Small town bar service, nothing to complain about, just three people working the bar and kitchen.

Ambiance: I hope you like mounted animal heads, because there are about twenty of them, and tons of deer antlers. The interior has some nice exposed woodwork and televisions showing sports.

Final Thoughts: I still haven't found a great tenderloin in Ft. Dodge, but Clare is just a short drive up the road. I am still interested to know if the Palmer House in nearby Palmer is still open for business.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Culver's in Des Moines, Iowa

"Welcome to Delicious" is written somewhere on the menu and other places inside each Culver's franchise. The chain from Wisconsin entered the Central Iowa marked a little over ten years ago, and there are four locations in Greater Des Moines.

Location: 5941 SE 14th St in Des Moines

Directions: If you don't want to brave the traffic on SE 14th St, they have franchises all over the midwest.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: The shape resembles the loin shape I've become familial with over the years, with a little finger of meat sticking out at one corner. The breading is consistent, thin and crunchy, and very deeply tasteless. The white pork meat is clearly from one single cut of pork from with clearly visible grain, but it isn't tender at all and is significantly dryer than anything you can pick up from a cafe that makes the sandwich themselves. Served on a buttered toasted bun. Overall 4.0 out of ten.

Price: $7.09 for the combo but they talked me into a $0.25 upcharge for "deluxe condiments" like mayo and onion.

Also on the menu: Huge fast food menu based on butterburgers, frozen custard desserts, and diner classics like patty melt or cheese curds or even fried fish.

The "Original" Butterburger
The Original Butterburger SnackPack: this is part of their under five dollar value menu with fries and a drink. The burger gets a good seared surface from the hot grill, and that is about all I can say about it. Served with a slice of cheddar underneath.

Service: Its order at the counter and they bring the food to your table.

Ambiance: I suppose its brighter and more open than other fast food places, with booths and tables for seating.

Final Thoughts: I get asked often about the various fast food franchise tenderloins. I assume the Culver's tenderloin is exactly the same at every franchise, and I guess they would have the same supply chain for their ingredients. It really isn't special, but its gives some scale and comparison to the other tenderloins and are more widely available.

Culver's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sandy's Grill in Huxley, Iowa

My network of informants recently told me of a new roadside grill in Story County with a menu item titled the Hubcap Tenderloin. Checking out their social media accounts confirmed this was a place I needed to visit.

Location: 504 E 1st St in Huxley, just up highway 69 from Ankeny.

Directions: This is just a block east of the main drag through town between Ames and Huxley.

Online at: Website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This is listed on the menu as Hubcap Tenderloin, and nearly everyone in the place was eating one. The white pork loin meat was thin cut and pounded into a wide disc of pork. The softness of the thin cut was exceptional, as most places with super thin loins wind up with stiff meat. The crackerlike breading was only slightly seasoned. Served on a very soft, buttered toasted roll. Overall 8.0 out of ten.

Price: $9.51 with a side of fries and a drink.

Also on the menu: Burgers and sandwiches make up most of the menu along with ice cream and desserts, and the macaroni and cheese is available as a side or main or even fried. The Wednesday special is Kumla.

Service: Its counter service with food brought to your table.

Ambiance: I would guess this building was once a Dairy Queen, there are old booths for seating. The renovation is between an old fast food grill with new paint and posters or Marilyn Monroe or James Dean on the walls.

Final Thoughts: Its always nice to find a new place in a small town so close to Des Moines. Sandy's is much better than the Dairy Queen or whatever used to be in this building, but I still don't know what Kumla is. I've now eat along Highway 210 and found good homemade tenderloins in Woodward, Madrid, Slater, and Huxley. I may need to find one in Cambridge or Maxwell now to make my trek across this road complete.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Mucky Duck Pub in Ames

The people who run the Mucky Duck pub in Ames have been at it for a while now. I have seen the ads for Ames British Foods in Cityview or Relish for years, and later their business was named The Chip Shop, and now the Mucky Duck. The sign above The Mucky Duck Pub has the name of all three entities.

Location: 3100 South Duff Ave in Ames, Story County in Central Iowa, about a half hour north of Des Moines.

Directions: You can take highway 69 north from Ankeny or turn south of Duff from Highway 30.
Online at: website is HERE

The Tenderloin: The breading had some seasoning but no taste notes stood out, and it had just a dry crunchy and dusty texture. The meat inside was also dry, and the whole sandwich felt dry. I left wondering if this could have turned out better with the fish and chips batter. I have found many of the best tenderloins to be made with the light airy batter that fish and chips are known for. I just think this is a missed opportunity of a sandwich. Served on a toasted Kaiser roll. Overall 6.5 out of ten.

Price: served with the extra thick french fries with above average salt and pepper.

Also on the menu: The fish and chips is the specialty, but they have a large menu with several British favorites that aren't available elsewhere in Central Iowa. Bangers and mash, Cornish pasty, scotch eggs English muffins, crumpets and more. Drinks include loose leaf English teas, a huge selection of imported beers. Part of the interior is Ames British Foods, which is a handful of shelves stocked with English foods.

Service: There was a guy with an English accent running the bar and taking orders and another person in the kitchen.

Ambiance: The building was once a gas station, and the remodel feels half done. The bar is bricks, the walls are covered with posters of The Beattles or the Queen. Seating is at the bar or tables. There are other British style pubs that do a better job with dark woodwork or booths or heavy stools.

Final Thoughts: I would come back to the Mucky Duck to try the Fish and Chips next time I am in town. My previous attempts to find a good tenderloin in Ames have come up with mostly disappointments and sandwiches that were not worth writing about.My next stop will probably be down the road on Highway 69 on the way back to Des Moines

The Mucky Duck Pub on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 1, 2014

Brick St Market Cafe in Bondurant, Iowa

This new grocery store in the eastern suburb of Bondurant has an interesting story behind it. You can read about the owners of the Brick St Market by doing a google search for "Bondurant Lottery Winners". Its always nice to see people investing in their communities, and they are taking a big risk by building this grocery store here. Brick St. Market actually isn't the only restaurant in the Des Moines area where lottery winners invested their winnings into their business.

Location: 114 Brick St SE in Bondurant, just north and east of Des Moines.

Directions: Just follow Hubbell Avenue out of town until it turns into Highway 65, Brick St is just on the edge of Bondurant.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: The local newspaper article claims the loin meat is softened with a tenderizing machine, and specifically states there is no pounding. The result is a very thick piece of consistently soft pork. The small layer of batter-like breading has a heavy dose of seasoning salt and a touch of pepper and maybe a little bit of something else. The bun seemed to be cut by hand, and while well toasted, the top was a little smaller than the base and things like proportions and ratios are important to me. Served with your choice of LTOP, overall 8.5 out of ten.

Price: $7.99 with a side. I went with the Sidewinder Fries:

Also on the menu: The cafe has a huge menu including breakfast, ice cream, burgers, deli sandwiches and a salad bar.

Service: The service on the day I stopped in seemed to be backed up by a huge group of locals who all arrived at once and sat together and ordered the same thing.

Ambiance: This is a newly built grocery store with a cafe area that includes a counter, booths, and tables for seating. The color scheme on the store and the baskets reminds me of Culver's.

Final Thoughts: This is as close as you can get to a small town award worthy tenderloin in the Des Moines area. They seem to be selling quite a few of these.