Friday, May 15, 2015

Elmo's Bar and Grill in Madrid, Iowa

I hadn't made it to Madrid since my trip to the Town & Country Cafe in 2013. A recent recommendation to try Elmo's Bar & Grill meant that I could stop in here after a short drive from Des Moines

Location: 605 S Kennedy in Madrid, Boone County, Central Iowa.

Directions: Kennedy is the main drag through town when driving from Des Moines on Highway 17.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This was listed on the menu as the "Deluxe Tenderloin" and described as a fresh tenderloin topped with grinder meat and melted mozzarella cheese. The pork loin was lightly breaded in a crispy coating, but the huge amount of grinder meat dominated the sandwich. The toasting of the bun and the melting of the cheese was about right. The whole thing was big. Served on a toasted Italian grinder roll.

Price: $9.50 a la carte, I went with some hand cut fries on the side for an extra two dollars.

Also on the menu: Bar food like hand pattied burgers and a giant sandwich named The Elmo. There is also Taco Tuesday and a Steak Night.

Service: Its bar service with orders taken to a kitchen.

Ambiance: This is a small town bar that looks renovated with beer signs and video game machines and televisions.

Final Thoughts: Elmo's is a nice small town bar that isn't a long drive from Des Moines.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Scooters Pub & Grub in New Sharon, Iowa

I had heard about Scooters Pub and seen their facebook page a couple years back. A recent trip to Oskaloosa and back meant that I could finally visit this place. Its owned by a lady named Sharon, in the city of New Sharon.

Location: 108 East Maple St in New Sharon, Mahaska County in Central Iowa.

Directions: New Sharon is best reached by taking Highway 63 from Oskaloosa or the Interstate. Scooters is half a block off the main drag on Maple Street.

Online at: Facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This is listed on the menu as the B.A.T. for big tenderloin. Size was good and this nearly filled the to go box with the waffle fries. The breading had a good crunchy layer of bread crumbs. The meat was bright white and tenderized to be soft. Served on a buttered and toasted bun. Overall 8.2 out of ten.

Price: $7.99 with a side.

Also on the menu: the menu is a gigantic with multiple pages of steaks, pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and bar foods. There is also a cajun tenderloin.

Service: There is table service in part of Scooter's or bar service at the bar.

Ambiance: This is a small town bar and grill or roadhouse with tons of space inside. They have pool tables, booths, a bar, and decorations with beer signs. They also have a karaoke night with free shots for people who take the mic.

Final Thoughts: I've been to a lot of small town bars and roadhouses and Scooters Pub is a relatively new place with a good tenderloin. I may have to update my list of the Best in Central Iowa soon to account for some new places that have opened since my last update.

 Scooters Pub & Grub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

B&S's 529 Bar in Carroll, Iowa

B & S 529 is a bar with a confusing name in a building that says Don's Place in the front. I've driven through Carroll Iowa plenty of times, and I couldn't remember this place being here. The IPPA listed its tenderloin as a finalist in its 2014 Best Tenderloin competition. Its right on the main drag through town, so a stop to grab a tenderloin was easy.

Location: 529 North Main St in Carroll, in Western Iowa.

Directions: Its right on one of the main corners of downtown Carroll, but watch for the storefront marked as "Don's Place".

Online at: facebook page is HERE

The Tenderloin: This was a huge triangle of pork loin meat when I opened to to-go box. This also had a great golden brown color to the breading. The breading itself had some nice saltiness and had a batter like texture in some parts. The problem here was the inside. The interior was dry in several parts from being pounded out just a little too thin. Served with lettuce and pickle on a large cold bun. Overall 7.8 out of ten.

Price: $7.95 with a side.

Also on the menu: Its bar food with fried stuff and burgers with toppings

Service: I was in during a basketball game and the place was packed and service was slow, but that is like every bar in Iowa during basketball season.

Ambiance: This is a remodeled old bar with tons of televisions and lots of beer signage. The exterior still has the name of the last tenant, Dons Place.

Final Thoughts: This is a decent tenderloin that might be good or great if there is some kind of variance in quality or if I just caught them on a bad day. I don't think the bar itself was any better than the dive known as Kerps Pub that I visited in Carroll not too long ago.

B&S's 529 on Urbanspoon

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