Sunday, July 26, 2009

Larsen's Pub in Elk Horn

Most people learn about Elk Horn when driving past signs on the Insterstate for the Historic Danish Windmill and Museum. This town gets its fair share of tourists to take the freeway exit and check the place out. Many visitors see the huge parking lot at the Danish Inn and Buffet and don't travel any further into town to get something to eat. They would be missing out on an IPPA Best Tenderloin in Iowa from 2007 in Larsen's Pub and Catering just a few block north.

Location: 4206 Main St in Elk Horn (population 649) in Shelby County, in Western Iowa.

Directions: Take the Highway 173 exit north from I-80 between Des Moines and Omaha. The Pub is right on the main street a few blocks past the Windmill and Museum, maybe seven miles off the freeway.
The Tenderloin: What makes the tenderloin here so special is the great thickness and special blend of seasonings in the breading. This is one of the thickest tenderloins that both maintains is shape and is soft and moist inside. Parts of the tenderloin are thicker than others, nearly all fat is trimmed off. The The breading forms a darker brown layer over the pork with black pepper and other flavors. The overall score has to be reduced for the untoasted bun, a 8.0 out of 10.

Price: $4.79, with fixins.
Also on the menu: The menu has burgers and the usual fried stuff with homemade sides.

Service: It was table service with an overworked guy waiting tables, tending bar, and cooking.
Ambiance: Typical pub and grub interior with beer signs, seating at tables and booths or a bar. The crowd seemed to have many regulars or lifers who all seem to want a tenderloin, I assume its these people who gave the place the nickname "The Nut Hus" as the sign implies.

Final Thoughts: This is the second of the Western Iowa Tenderloin Trail entries, which will include stops in Dunlap, Hamlin, Audubon, and Atlantic in addition to the Red Bard in Exira I wrote about earlier. The award-winning tenderloin is perfect to handle the hunger accumulated while watching the hour-long documentary about windmills and browsing the deep selection of Danish junk at the museum.
Larsen's Pub on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kalme's Store and Restaurant in St. Donatus

St Donatus is a spot on the map with a little dot accompanied by the colored text "Picturesque Luxembourger Village". The "village" looks like its only about five buildings, but they do look very nice, especially if you're driving through in the fall. This is in a hilly area near the big river, so the drives are always nice.

Location: 100 N. Main St in St. Donatus (population 249) in Jackson County, near the top of the nose that is formed by the border of Eastern Iowa. Its about 15 minutes from Dubuque or 30 minutes from Galena, Illinois.

Directions: This is right on the main street Highway 52 that runs through town.

Online At: is the online home of both the restaurant and the guest house is the historic buildings across the street. The website claims to offer special rates to outdoorsmen and fishermen passing through.
The Tenderloin: This is not the typical breaded pork tenderloin for a couple reasons. The first is that it isn't deep fried, its pan-fried with only a small amount of breading that gives it a different texture and very little grease. Second, its made with a special steak seasonings made here that give it a whole new flavor. Its not crunchy, and there is quite a salty taste to the whole thing. There is a great browning to the white cut of pork loin. Overall this is worth checking out, a 7.5 out of 10.

Price: $3.99, with fixins.
Also on the menu: This place falls into the trap of offering a big menu of ordinary dishes to a small town. There are a couple interesting Luxemburger twists, like homemade sausage, veal schnitzel, sauerkraut pizza and meats with their custom seasonings.

Service: Its table service in the dining area, there is also a bar area.
Ambiance: Its a historic building that has been remade several times, keeping the appearance of an Inn from the old country. You must walk past gas pumps to get in, then proceed past some grocery shelves and a bar to the dining area.

Final Thoughts: I can speak with good authority that this is the best place to eat in St. Donatus. Back when I could afford to travel overseas, I made my way to Luxemburg, and can say that this small town in bluff country is about as close as it gets in Iowa to the real thing