Centerville has one of the best looking, and largest, town squares in all of Iowa. It takes a while just to walk around the whole thing. A small sandwich board advertising homemade meatloaf and tenderloins led me into the Blue Bird while in Southern Iowa recently. This is a small town family restaurant in Centerville which has been operating in different forms under different owners in the same location since the twenties. It is not to be confused with the Bluebird Diner, the recently opened retro diner in Iowa City.
Location: 108 E. Jackson St in Centerville
Directions: Its on the South Side of the town square, look for the sign.
The Tenderloin: Listed on the menu as Hand Made Jumbo Tenderloin. The whole loin was pounded thin and developed a little wave shape. Breading formed a hard crunchy layer outside the white meat. The inside wasn't as soft as most others I have tried. This was an okay tenderloin. Served on a toasted corn dusted bun. Overall 7.0 out of ten.
Price: $4.75 with fries for a dollar more.
Also on the menu: Its homemade comfort food including meatloaf and a biscuits and gravy breakfast served all day.
Service: Its table service with an attentive waitress also running the counter.
Ambiance: This is a historic building on the square with old booths and an antique counter, but it has been refurbished multiple times under several owners over the decades. There are picture of what it used to be, but now its filled with stuff for sale.
Final Thoughts: In the past few years, all of my trips to Centerville have been during the winter months. That is not a bad thing by itself, except that the main drag through town has two seasonal Ice Cream Shops each with competing hand breaded tenderloins. The Double R Dairy Bar has a giant sign with a tenderloin on it, and I get the idea they sell up to a hundred a day in the summer. Raymond's Dairy Creme is also on my list to check out. Across the square the J& K Market has a website claiming their tenderloin is the "biggest in town" and "a labor of love". I just hope I can make it back during the summer someday.