Saturday, August 15, 2015

Agency Cafe in Agency, Iowa

The Agency Cafe doesn't look like much from the outside, it has a gravel driveway and a faded sign reading CAFE. the waitresses wear shirts that say HOWDY on the front and "Some Things Don't Need To Change" on the back.

Location: 510 W Main St in Agency, Iowa, just outside of Ottumwa.

Directions: From Ottumwa, take Highway 34 West to the Agency off ramp that turns south to Agency, continue through the town and take a right on Main St to find the Agency Cafe at the edge of town.

Online at: Facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This is listed on the menu as the Big Boy Loin, and the hunk of pork loin felt like eight ounces and was in the classic triangular shape. The breading had a great cracker like crunch but not much in the way of seasoning. The white loin meat was moist in parts and steam got into the breading. Served on a soft toasted bun with your choice of fixins. Overall 7.6 out of ten.

Price: $6.75

Also on the menu: The menu is small with a smaller loin, burgers, chicken fried steak, and daily specials. Desserts include pies and cinnamon rolls. The meats come from the local meat locker.

Service: There is table service and a counter for paying, the other customers seemed to be local regulars.

Ambiance: Big letters reading HOWDY are painted on the wall, along with farm scenes. There is a counter and tables for seating.

Final Thoughts: I hadn't found a good loin near Ottumwa before and its always good to visit a real small town cafe. My next stop will probably be on the other side of Ottumwa in the small town of Chillicothe.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Lucky Pig Pub & Grill in Ogden, Iowa

The IPPA gave away its Best Tenderloin award in October of 2014 to a small town pub in Boone County. The Lucky Pig Pub & Grill has been serving up food and drinks in this location since 2011. The branding of the pub has a long written out explanation about what a "lucky pig" is in Germany. 

Location: 113 W Walnut St in Ogden, Boone County, in Central Iowa.

Directions: Ogden is just past Boone on Highway 30, take the offramp and go north through town and turn right on Walnut St in the center of town.

Online at: facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: The breading was like a batter that has a bright and golden brown color, and the texture forms a solid layer that wasn't crunchy on either of my visits. It had a little bit of a spicy flavored taste. The loin meat was thin yet soft with good moisture but not quite juicy. Served with your choice of fixins on a kaiser bun. Overall 8.4 out of ten.

Price: $9.95 with a side, I went with the Onion Rings:

Onion Rings

The Wholly Pig: I saw this ridiculous topped tenderloin on the menu and had to try it. This was a breaded tenderloin on top of some sliced ham, with bbq pork and strips of bacon with bbq sauce and melted cheese. The whole deal was one heavy pile of food even without the side of fries.

Also on the menu: The menu is huge with fried stuff, giant burgers, wings, appetizers, salads, steaks, pizza and specials.

Service: Its table service with a wait for seating when things get busy.

Ambiance: The interior is a big improvement from the bar that used to be here. This is a newish remodel of the old sports bar, with large tables for seating.

Final Thoughts:  I had visited this same space in Ogden several years ago when the building was occupied by BK's Sports Bar, which moved here from the other side of the main street. But that was a long time ago. The tenderloin here is as good as any in the Central Iowa area, if you don't mind driving past Boone to get here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Seneca Street Saloon in Webster City, Iowa

 Seneca Street Saloon and Pizza is a block off the main commercial street in Webster City and their menu is posted in front of the door. It lists a hand breaded tenderloin for $4.25 so I had to stop in and check it out for myself. A local newspaper claims this is the first sports bar in Webster City, and they sell a lot of pizza here.

Location: 919 Seneca St in Webster City, in North Central Iowa.

Directions: The main turnoff for Webster City from Highway 20 takes you up Superior St and if you turn after the park you will be a block away from Seneca St Saloon.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin:The breading had some crackermeal that seemed to get a little toasty during its time in the fryer. Part of the meat was juicy, part was on the dry side. This was about average for a bar food tenderloin in small town Iowa. Served on a warm bun with your choice of fixins. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Price: $4.25 dining in or $4.75 for take out.

Also on the menu: they have bar food appetizers and sandwiches and the specialty is homemade pizza.

Service: I just got takeout from the bar, but they will deliver in Webster City.

Ambiance: There was a lot of wood paneling and an old bar. Beer signs and sports stuff covers the walls.

Final Thoughts: I have been through Webster City plenty of times and never found a good tenderloin. Its a good drive from here to find a better one than at Seneca Street Saloon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Little Red Food Truck in Des Moines, Iowa

I was able to try a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich at The Spot Food Truck last year, and one from Chuckie's Iowa Tenderloin Truck at the Iowa State Fair the year before, and even earlier at the mobile unit of the Townhouse Supper Club when it came to Des Moines several years ago. The latest food truck to sell breaded pork tenderloins is the Little Red Food Truck parked downtown for this summer.

Location: They have only been around for a couple months and may move around, check their social media page to know where they will be.

Directions: You can drive downtown on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and they will probably be in the sculpture park area where the other trucks are parked.

Online at: facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This was described as pork ribeye loin meat, and the bright white meat was very juicy. Panko bread crumbs gave this sandwich a classic crunchy texture. The first problem was that the loin meat was not entirely coated in the breadcrumbs, parts were just bare meat. Another was the trim job that left hunks of fat in the loin meat that were a little too big. The panko had a little salt in the taste, so something could have been added. Served with your choice of fixins on a soft bun. Overall 7.30 out of ten.

Price: $7.00 a la carte

Also on the menu: fresh turnover pies, gourmet tacos with fish or fried flour shells, and soft drinks.

Service: Just a walk up food truck service. There were two people inside when I stopped by.

Ambiance: I found the truck when it was parked on a sidewalk across from the sculpture park.

Final Thoughts: This isn't the first food truck to try selling tenderloins in Des Moines, and there is another truck with tenderloins on the menu parked across the street. Fixings some problems with the sandwich could make this one competitive with the other tenderloins in town.

Monday, June 15, 2015

BW's Burgers in West Des Moines, Iowa

A few months ago the facebook page of The Rusty Duck in Dexter announced they would open a bar and restaurant in West Des Moines named BW's Burgers Shakes & Spirits. The Rusty Duck in Dexter had once won an award from the Iowa Cattlemen for having the best burger in Iowa, and had a runner-up award from the annual IPPA tenderloin contest. I would guess that BW is the initials of the owner of the two places.

Location: 3701 EP True Parkway in West Des Moines, Iowa

Directions: This is in a strip mall with three other restaurants that haven't been here very long, you can get to EP True by taking Grand Ave. from Des Moines.

The Tenderloin: This one had a wide oval shape with a butterfly cut in the middle. I had been here before and had a different shape. Each loin I've had here has been very thick and juicy. I've heard pounding noises from the kitchen, but the texture of the meat feels undisturbed by tenderizing. The meat inside is a bright white loin meat, and the breading is a thin crunchy layer with a hint of pepper. Served on a large and soft toasted bun with your fixins. Overall 8.2 out of ten.

Price: $10.00 with a side of fries. I got mine with cheese sauce:

Also on the menu: The menu isn't big but has steak sandwiches and burgers and other bar foods.

Service: There is a take-out counter and table service.

Ambiance: This space has had a couple restaurant tenants, the last one being a place trying to sell loosemeat burgers and hot dogs. The dining area has tables, and the patio area is open for the season.

Final Thoughts: I had been to Dexter a few times over the years, but the Rusty Duck is only open evenings and I never made it inside. If the burgers here are the same as the ones these guys serve in Dexter, then I would be interested in coming back to try one someday.

Monday, June 1, 2015

209 Main Bar in Paton, Iowa

"Home of the Tool Bar" reads the entrance to 209 Bar and Restaurant in Paton. This is a relatively new sports bar that aims to bring the taste of the bigger city to tiny Paton.

Location: As you would expect from the name, it is at 209 Main St in Paton, Iowa.

Directions: Its best to take Highway 144 from Perry and take a County Road one mile into Paton.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This was a decent sized piece of white pork loin meat in a giant mitten shape. The texture was soft inside, with a consistent medium thickness. The breading felt like it had been cooked just a little too long and had a burnt taste to it. I really couldn't taste much in the seasoning. Served with all the fixins on a toasted roll. Overall 7.3 out of ten.

Price: $7.99 with a side.

Also on the menu: Big bar food menu with sandwiches, a salad bar, burgers and some uncommon stuff like poutine or steaks.

Service: There is a bar area and a restaurant area with table service. I got takeout from the bar.

Ambiance: This is a new place in a huge building with a dining area, a huge bar and private rooms. The bar area has televisions and beer signs and the bar itself is very modern.

Final Thoughts: I was really surprised to see such a big and new place in a small town like Paton. The locals seem to like this place enough to fill it up, as it was packed when I stopped in.

 209 Main on Urbanspoon

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.