Monday, July 15, 2013

J & K Diner in Laurel, Iowa

A tiny hand painted sign grabbed the corner of my eye while driving through tiny Laurel, reading Diner Open. I figured it was worth a stop, I could have sworn this place had a different name the last time I came through, but that was a while ago. The J & K Diner is relatively new, and had a daily special board visible from the road telling me Liver and Onions were the special.

Location: 203 S Main St. in Laurel, Iowa, Marshall County just north and east of the Des Moines area.

Directions: Laurel is the town on the road between Newton and Marshalltown, and J & K Diner sits right on the State Highway that takes everyone through the town.

The Tenderloin: The first thing I noticed was the steam from the meat rising through the breading. This was a juicy cut of pork loin, but just a bit smaller than what some other places serve. The meat was tenderized and bright white in the middle, with grey meat on the outside. Parts of the edges had some tiny bits of fat that didn't take away from the great texture of the meat. The breading was just more crackermeal. Served on a toasted Kaiser Bun. Overall 7.2 out of ten.

Price: $5.25 a la carte

Also on the Menu: The menu has the basics like burgers or sandwiches and fried stuff, with a loomeat hamburger named the Mustang Burger, and full breakfast service in the morning.

Service: There was a high school aged waitress and I think the owner was doing the cooking. Each were making conversation with the customers.

Ambiance: I think the blinds that read Sue's Halfway Cafe were left here by the last tenant, the walls are decorated with signs with bad jokes like Beware Of Wife written on them. There is an old counter fixture and tables for seating.

Final Thoughts: Its always good to see a new place open in a small town when driving through for the last time. J & K and its tenderloin didn't blow me away, but it seems like a perfectly good place to stop for a snack in the small town of Laurel.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Flat Tire Lounge in Madrid and the Radish Express

The sign that says Radish Express seems to have been taken apart by the weather or something, but the menus all say Radish Express. The people behind The Radish Restaurant in Grimes have set up shop here beside the Flat Tire Lounge serving the patrons in this biker bar beside the trail for the summer.

Location: 304 S Madison St in Madrid, just north and west of Greater Des Moines.

Directions: Its the huge building by the bike trail on the road into Madrid, pretty hard to miss.

Online at: Website for Flat Tire Lounge is HERE. for The Radish in Grimes is HERE.

The Tenderloin: Listed on the menu as a breaded pork loin sandwich. The tenderloin here looked great with its perfect golden brown color and the visual appeal of the spices forming little dots in the breading. The bright white pork loin meat beneath was pounded out a little too wide and was thin and on the dry side. Other parts were thick with chewy texture and untrimmed fat. The bun was toasted to a dry texture as well, and the fries were a little overcooked, so everything on my basket was just overdone. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Price: $8.00 the fires were $2.00 more.

Also on the Menu: Wraps, sandwiches, a grilled pork loin sandwich, full brunch in the morning and a full drink menu inside.

Service: The bar area serves drinks and the Radish Express has a walk-up counter.

Ambiance: This bar serves the visitors to the busy bike trail and it was packed when I visited. There is a patio outside and a large bar area inside. They let people wearing bike gear inside. There is even a pump outside in case your bike has a flat tire.

Final Thoughts: The Radish has developed its reputation as the place to dine in the fast growing suburb of Grimes for its luxurious Brunch and dinner options. Serving up food to the crowds, and I mean CROWDS, of people sound like a good match. I don't really even know when they start up or end their summer gig here.