Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stones Restaurant in Marshalltown

Stones Restaurant was a Roadfood Icon in central Iowa. Its classic sign sticks above the viaduct, reminding those driving by that this restaurant has been here so long it predates the modern road built above it. After closing earlier last decade, it briefly reopened by the Stones before closing again. Only in 2009 did a new ownership group attempt to bring this place back to life. "Since 1887" reads the front of the restaurant, and many people in the area have memories of eating here from long ago.

Location: 507 South 3rd Ave in Marshalltown, Central Iowa. Under the viaduct, beside the busy railroad tracks.

Directions: You have to drive around a corner if you are on the viaduct in order to reach the parking lot. There is an illustration on the business card.

Online at: http://www.stonesundertheviaduct.com/

The Tenderloin: This had a good size, decent thickness and looked clearly homemade. The breading became a little dusty. There seem to be parallel marks across the top from storage or something. The whole thing had good size and white meat. Served on a roll with all the fixins. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Price: $6.50

Also on the menu: The lunch menu has diner classics on the menu like hot beef or smothered steak sandwiches along with homemade daily specials. The usual fried appetizers are not available here.

Service: Its only table service as far as I could tell.

Ambiance: The remodel and reopening work has made this place into a trip back in time. There are high ceilings and natural light, along with period music and vintage decorations.

Final Thoughts: People returning to a place that has been closed a few years may be in for some surprise changes. The Mile-High Lemon Merengue Pie, listed on the DM Register's 100 Things to Eat in Iowa Before You Die, is no longer on the menu. I am optimistic about the new owners and what they have done with the place. I was never able to visit here before it closed, but the remodeling and careful attention to atmosphere is noticeable. So many places like these close, it is rare to see one make a comeback. The tenderloin is alright. However, I left wishing I had tried one of the daily specials instead.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

5th Ave. Diner in Coon Rapids

I was driving home on Highway 141 past Coon Rapids late one night. I saw a giant sign reading DINER, with some stoplight graphics. I figured it was worth stopping in to see what was goin on inside.

Location: 501 5th Ave. South in Coon Rapids in Carrol County, Western Iowa.

Directions: This place is literally just off Highway 141 on the main intersection south of town. Look for the sign.
The Tenderloin: For some reason they served this on a gigantic plate that made the sandwich look smaller than it really was. The menu described the meat as cut fresh daily, it did not appear to be tenderized to break the grain of the meat. However, the meat was soft and white. Served on an untoasted bun. A solid 7.5 out of ten rating.

Price: $4.50, a little more for the fixins.

Also on the menu: The typical diner fare with some odd stuff like a grilled marshmallow peanut butter sandwich or a giant hamburger. I opted for a fried cheese bits side dish.

Ambiance: This place has the same decorations as every other drive-in or one-stop on this highway with road signs and license plates nailed to the walls. There are tables and booths for seating.
Service: Its table service with space for a walk-up that wasn't in use when I visited during some kind of small town rush hour.

Final Thoughts: This sandwich wasn't exceptionally great by any approximation, and there are plenty of places to get one about as good along Highway 141. The Coon Rapids Country Club has a restaurant open seasonally next door that I may have to check out next time.