Bonaparte is a small town in Southeast Iowa, and is part of the Historic Villages of Van Buren County. Van Buren County places limits on things like commercial signage, and the villages are maintained by residents to reflect the areas heritage from a time when the Des Moines River was busy with commerce, and mill towns dotted the landscape. The building that now houses this restaurant was once a grist mill powered by the river, making flour for larger markets. The town was known as Meek's Mill before being incorporated as Bonaparte.The Bonaparte Retreat has been featured in Midwest Living and The Iowan magazines.
Location: 731 1st St. in Bonaparte (population 458), Van Buren County, in Southeastern Iowa.
Directions: Bonaparte is best reached by taking Highway 2 across Southern Iowa. County Road W40 takes you 2 miles north into town. You can also take the scenic route by driving County Road J40 from Keosauqua. Its only two and a half hours drive from Des Moines.
Online At: http://bonaparteretreat.com/
The Tenderloin: This one had a shape like an oven mitt when I unwrapped it. Your get decent thickness in the cut of pork, but the meat only slightly extends beyond the bun. Softness is above average, and the meat comes apart easily. Breading adds some crunch, but not much in the way of seasoning. Served with your choice of fixings on a sesame seed bun. Overall 7.0 out of ten.
Price:$4.25 a la carte, a good value.
Also on the menu: the lunch menu is small but it has some fried vegetable appetizers along with the usual salads and sandwiches. The Dinner menu has steaks and seafood, and homemade pies for dessert.
Service: Its table service, and takes a while for food to be prepared. Watching a lady use the giant antique cash register is a plus.
Ambiance: The building oozes with atmosphere in its natural lighting and antique furnishings. There is a great view of the river, but tables near the windows fill up fast.
Final Thoughts: The setting in a historic building in the best kept historical towns in Iowa with the high ceiling of the mill, and relics of its prior incarnation, is great. Although on my next visit I will probably be to try some of the other cuts of meat on the dinner menu. I still maintain the best tenderloin I have found in Van Buren County is at Misty's Malt Shop just up the road in Keosauqua. This was a good value in a nice small town.