Monday, February 1, 2016

Westside Family Restaurant in Grinnell Iowa

I haven't had the best of luck searching for tenderloins in Grinnell. I had a lousy tenderloin at the Dari Barn years ago, and lots of places have come and gone since then. Westside Restaurant seems to have persevered as a family dining option on this part of Grinnell for a long time now.

Location: 229 6th Ave West in Grinnell Iowa about an hour east of Des Moines.

Directions: This is on old Highway 6 on the western side of Grinnell.

Online at: Website is HERE.

The tenderloin: The cut was a little on the thin side but the meat was moist throughout. The breading had a light crunchiness and not much taste but had a good golden brown color. Served on a soft bun with your choice of fixings overall 7.5 out of ten.

Price: $6.95 a la carte

Also on the menu: full breakfast in the morning, homemade pies and a huge lunch and dinner selection like steaks or burgers or seafood.

Service: Its table service by some long serving waitresses.

Ambiance: The website says this location was a A&W Drive-In a long time ago, and it looks lika a dated eighties or older renovation. There are booths or tables in the dining area.

Final Thoughts: My attempts at finding a good tenderloin in Grinnell had been mostly frustration, I think I had one at a pizza place a long time ago, and I had tried Montgomery's Sandwich Shop but they didn't have a homemade loin. I may have to try the racing themed bar down the road in Newton on Highway 6 for my next stop.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Wobbly Boots Roadhouse in Clive, Iowa

Any time I visit a place with "Roadhouse" in the name I almost expect to see a wild bar scene with Patrick Swayze drop kicking a bunch of bad guys. My experiences have never really met those expectations. But Wobbly Boots is a chain of BBQ restaurants from the Lake of the Ozarks area which is kind of close to where Roadhouse was set. I've never heard anything good about this place, but they have a homemade tenderloin on the menu so I had to give it a try.

Location: 1301 NW 114th St in Clive, Suburban Des Moines Iowa. I usually have bad luck in side of the highway high traffic areas between chain restaurants like this place in Clive.

Directions: This is in between some other chain restaurants a block north of the intersection of 50th St and University in West Des Moines.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This was a large piece of pork loin cut and pounded into a consistent if slightly thin tenderloin sandwich. The crunchiness was good and consistent throughout although I couldn't taste anything in the breading. The meat inside was warm and bright white and good softness. This is better than the tenderloin I ate at another chain The Other Place. Served with LTOP on a large soft toasted bun. Overall 7.7 out of ten.

Price: $9.99 with a side of fries but I paid extra for

Also on the menu: The smoked meats are most of the menu but there are also burgers and salads and flatbreads.

Service: There is table service or bar service and it was like any other chain restaurant.

Ambiance: This space has been a different chain restaurant and was newly renovated a year ago when Wobbly Boots opened. There are televisions and exposed woodwork with old barn wood.

Final Thoughts: I have to warn people that I've never heard anything good about this place other than the tenderloin or the onion rings. Some people tell me that they don't reheat the meat from their smoker properly when they serve it so it all tastes a little off. The wings I had once tasted like they had too much smoke, and a lot of the side dishes were forgettable or worse like they were just bad.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Shakespeare's Pub & Grill in Iowa City Iowa

I had known about Shakespeare's for a long time, its been serving locals and townies on the East Side of Iowa City forever. Isn't it crazy how the dive bar on the east side with the busy parking lot seems to have the best tenderloin I've found in Iowa City. I have a couple more places over here to check out since I never made to to Iron Hawk before they closed last year.

Location: 819 S 1st Ave in Iowa City

Directions:I always get lost on this side of Iowa City, Shakespeare's is just a few blocks north of the old mall.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: The meat inside was a thick cut of soft white pork loin. The batter formed a thick and crispy layer that included many pieces that stuck out for extra crunchiness. There was one little dark spot in the meat that I hope doesn't appear on other sandwiches they serve. This reminded me of battered loins from The Elms Club in Creston or Gramma's Kitchen in Walcott. Served on a very soft toasted bun with your choice of fixings. This was a nicely battered loin Overall 8.2 out of ten.

Price: $9.50 with fries.

Also on the menu: There are daily specials and the menu is bar food like burgers, sandwiches, and fried appetizers.

Service: There is bar service with wait staff slowly working through the crowded room.

Ambiance: the pub describes itself as an "East side watering hole", and the interior is dark with beer signs and a pool table and the bucket seats at the bar felt like they were decades old. I appreciate the font on their sign.

Final Thoughts: Blow, blow, thou winter wind. Thou art not so unkind, As man's ingratitude.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Victory Lane Cafe in Des Moines, Iowa

Victory Lane has a sign with a car tire, and some window lettering that reads "pizza to go", its hard to tell whats inside this place while driving past.  The full name of this place is Victory Lane Motorsports Cafe and it is in a simple building on the East side of Des Moines.

Location: 3801 Easton Blvd. in Des Moines

Directions: You get to Easton by taking University east past the fairgrounds and turning north on East 29th or Williams St.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This felt like at least a half pound of pork in the sandwich. The breading was a thick layer that had little seasoning and badly needed some mustard. The pork inside was cut with the grain and not tender, and there wasn't much moisture inside. The bun was not toasted and the fixings were piled underneath. Overall this was an okay homemade bar food tenderloin. 7.2 out of ten.

Price: $7.29 with fries and a little extra for onion rings

Also on the menu: typical bar food burgers and fried stuff but with pizza and cavatelli.
I got some onion rings:

Service: This was bar service with a couple waitresses running the cafe on a busy Friday crowd when I was in.

Ambiance: The cafe is themed for watching racing and there are flatscreen televisions and racing gear everywhere. Seats are at table and at the bar, and they have a pool table.

Final Thoughts: Its been a while since I last visited a "neighborhood bar" and even longer since I've visited one on the East side of Des Moines. Most of the people here were getting the pizza or the cavatelli, and I might go with those on another visit.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Uptown Cafe in Jefferson Iowa

It feels like I've been driving back and forth to Jefferson and back forever. I remember eating a tenderloin at a place by the railroad tracks a long time ago, but its closed up now. My next spot is the Uptown Cafe between the state highway and the courthouse. This is actually the second Uptown Cafe since I started this blog, after another in Western Iowa.

Location: 108 W State St in Jefferson, Greene County in Central Iowa.

Directions: The Uptown Cafe is on State St between the courthouse and Highway 4 running north and south through town.

Online at: website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This was a big sandwich that was served on a big bun on a big plate. The breading had some crunch but not much of any seasoning. The pork loin was bright white on the inside and steamy moist inside. Served with all the fixins on a toasted ciabatta bun that I just do not understand. Overall 7.8 out of ten.

Price: $7.50 with a side.

Also on the menu: they serve full breakfasts, sandwiches with confusing names that reference things in the town of Jefferson, and a list of pies is written on the pie board.

Service: the service was slow when I came in but the waitress apologized for the delay without being asked about it.

Ambiance: this place was slightly renovated in the past couple years with some antiques on the wall and exposed wood. There are booths and tables and a separate dining room for seating.

Final Thoughts: I had visited this place more than once before without my camera and not much has changed over the years. There is still a pie board, the clientele is still local folks. I might have to step into Ferg's Restaurant in Grand Junction on my next trip through Greene County.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Olson's Bread & Breakfast in Norwalk, Iowa

I had seen Olson's Bread & Breakfast featured on KCCI's Cruising for Comfort Food, and had driven past without realizing it served lunch. A recent facebook post on their seldom updated timeline had the message "Our landlord wants his building back, soon our last day at the restaurant will be Oct. 18." So I figured I should make it in before then.

Location: 1400 Sunset Dr in Norwalk just south of Des Moines

Directions: Taking 63rd South from West Des Moines eventually turns into Sunset Drive in Norwalk, and Olson's Bread & Breakfast is on the east side of the main drag through town.

Online at: facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This one come from the darker end of the pork loin and the meat was hot and juicy. It had been pounded out and the bits on the edges had overlapped, while some parts were thin and others thicker. The breading was a good crunchy layer with no seasoning. The homemade bun was soft and toasted warm and the butter melted into the bun gave it a rich flavor. Overall 7.8 out of ten.

Price: $7.29 with fries

Also on the menu: lunch has burgers and sandwiches but the full breakfast menu is the most popular fare here.

Service: There was one waitress and another person cooking when I was in. The limited hours last from six in the morning to two in the afternoon from Tuesday to Saturday.

Ambiance: There are few seats at a handful of tables inside, the walls are covered with decorations that remind you of breakfast.

Final thoughts: I usually don't go crazy for breakfast only places but in the past couple months I found some okay tenderloins at Julie's Homestyle Cafe in Oskaloosa and now in Olson's Bread & Breakfast. I don't know if this place is really closing or if it will find a new place soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Barnyard Family Restaurant in Chillicothe Iowa

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia tells me that the city of Chillicothe is pronounced Chill-uh-CAW-thee, and that 97 people live here. Well those people are lucky because they live in a town with a place named The Barnyard open four days a week. The Barnyard also operates a Tenderloin Experss Trailer in nearby Ottumwa on certain days when the restaurant is closed.

Location: 215 Market St in Chillicothe, about ten miles north and east of Ottumwa, Iowa

Directions:from Highway 63 between Ottumwa and Oskaloosa, take the T-67 road from the Chillicothe exit, then turn on Count Road H21 that turns into Market St in Chillicothe.

Online at: facebook page is HERE.

The tenderloin: This tenderloin started with a giant hunk of pork loin pounded into a triangle shape. The thickness was good and the white meat kept a good amount of juice in parts. The breading wasn't strongly seasoned but had a great flaky crunchy texture. Served on an untoasted bun Overall 8.4 out of ten.

Price: $5.75

Also on the menu: they have tenderloin with toppings and the usual fried stuff, burgers, and specials for dinner like steak.

Service: It was table service and it took a while even thought I was the only person there for lunch.

Ambiance: There were tables and a bar for seating, and the walls had old pictures of Chillicothe.

Final Thoughts: I don't get to towns as small as this that often anymore, and Im always looking for new places. I would definitely recommend stopping in the Barnyard if you are in Chillicothe from Wednesday to Saturday or tracking down their trailer. I can't think of a better one in the Ottumwa area.