Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Grumpy's in Chariton

If a restaurant has a hand-painted sign advertising a tenderloin, i guess its a good bet that the tenderloin will be homemade as well. The window claimed "Tacos and Lots More" so I figured it was worth a try. This little place looked like it was once the location of a small-town coffee shop. It was just one tiny room with a door into a kitchen.

Location: 114 S. Grand. St. in Chariton, in Southern Iowa. Its just off the square to the southeast.

Directions: Chariton is about 50 miles south of Des Moines. You can take I-35 south to Highway 34 West, or take Highway 65 south from the Eastside of Des Moines.
The Tenderloin: This sandwich wasn't exactly creating with take-out service in mind. The wrapper barely fit around the whole sandwich, but I didn't mind. The bun was more like a joke, it was just a dry roll that barely held its own part of the tenderloin. The meat just stuck so far from the roll. The soft and steamy inside was falling from the breading in some parts. The tenderizing made for an uneven sandwich with some parts much thicker than others. Overall 8.0 out of 10.

Price: $4.99, with fixins. Fifty cents extra for a second bun, its like a plate-splitting fee at a fancy restaurant. Half-size tenderloin also available.
Also on the menu: Small-town Mexican menu with tacos, a Red Taco, and smothered burritos in addition to sandwiches and ice-cream.

Service: Well, the lady took my order then disappeared into the kitchen just behind a door, I heard the tenderloin hit the fryer immediately.
Ambiance: The small interior had a few tables to sit at, the walls were covered with patriotic stuff and HS sports posters. I think a patio opens up when the weather is better.

Final Thoughts: I had been frustrated in some of my trips through Southern Iowa before. But this is up there with other super-jumbo tenderloin I've discovered around Iowa. The whole thing is just massive.


  1. Oi. Parabéns por seu excelente blog. Gostaria de lhe convidar para visitar meu blog e conhecer alguma coisa sobre o Brasil e nossa luta contra o comunismo. Abração

  2. Great work. Fantastic! Do you have any locations in and around Ames, IA? Thanks.

    Second comment: a philosophical issue about taste. With due respect to Davydd and all those who prefer the tenderloin carefully trimmed of all fat, there may be another group that may relish fat marbling the meat or encircling it, fried to an unctuous indescribable deliciousness underneath the breading.

    With proper technique, loin or even shoulder steak can be turned into tooothsome, tender schnitzel, which might be one goal. Manipulation of the liquid crystal properties of pork fat to achieve various textural states may be another goal.

    Many cultures take great interest in, and have a deep appreciation of, the diferent properties of subcutaneous fat, crunchiness etc. as it changes from shoulder--> back--> belly--> legs--> neck-->face. Internal fatS are yet another story.

    The types of feed, and their timing at various life stages dramatically influence fat properties and therefore, organoleptic values, of pork. Finally, there is age, sex and breed.

    Prof. Rothschild at IA State, Ames, is one of the greatest experts in the world on pork meat quality, and it might be quite interesting to go on campus for one segment of this blog.

  3. Hey thanks for the info, you seem to know a lot about pork yourself. I have a lot of respect for what the agricultural and veterinary researchers are up to in Ames but much of it goes a little over my head.

    I've never found a good tenderloin in Ames, but take HWY 69 just a five or ten minutes north from the Mall to Gilbert Corner to find Suburban Restaurant next to a Casey's. They take great care in getting the breading close to the meat before frying. They keep short hours there because everything is made from scratch.

    With regards to fat, yes it can be tasty. Frying is a fast way of cooking, so there is no real rendering as the fat just gets chewy and warm. KC BBQ on E. 14th St. in DM serves a tenderloin that has something like a thin ring of fat around the edge of the tenderloin. They likely use a cut other than pork loin, as their product isn't tenderized but just sliced before breading.

  4. I stopped into Grumpys during Ragbrai. It was a fantastic Tenderloin. I would definitely try that one again.

  5. Grumpys is the best just like the old Millies in DesMoines. My complements.