Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Angle Inn in Walford

I drove past this humble pub'n grub on a cold night earlier this year. It was named honorable mention in the 2009 IPPA Best Pork Tenderloin in Iowa contest. For such a sizable town, there doesn't seem to be any other operating restaurants according to google maps. The one place that is open here serves up some tasty fried food, and the award-winning tenderloin. My camera just wasn't working right on this night, but the tenderloin was too good to forget.

Location: The address is listed as 505 US 151 Walford, population 1,200 in Eastern Iowa.

Directions: This is just southwest of town on the surprisingly busy road connecting Cedar Rapids and Amana.
The Tenderloin: First off, this thing is huge. The other patrons tell me that each tenderloin has a different shape, and this one was a little bit thinner and wider than what is usual for the Angle Inn. The meat was a little on the dark grey side, and was soft in even the thinnest parts. This one was pounded so much that holes were present in the middle. There was enough flavour in the breading to keep it interesting. The small bun just wasn't useful here. Overall 8.0 out of ten.

Price: $4.49, an incredible value.
Also on the menu: The usual fried stuff, pizza, and burgers with The Angle Inn Burger as the specialty.

Service: I ate at the counter, surrounded by regulars who made a lot of conversation with the bartender.

Ambiance: This is a pub and grub that caters to racing fans, with beer posters and a pool table. The lights were dim and my photos turned out bad, really bad.
Final Thoughts: The Angle Inn had a brief moment of fame when it lead a "Fight for Freedom" against the 2008 Iowa Smoke Free Air Act. Small town bars across the state were frustrated by the legislation, but few took their protests to the point of civil disobedience. The Angle Inn eventually went smoke free. Its hard to quantify the effects of the ban on many small town bars and restaurants that are desperate for business. Although it has made trips to once-smoky bars more enjoyable for me in the past two years.

Angle Inn on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gateway Market and the Vegetarian Tenderloin

Local Des Moines super-chef George Formaro is not afraid to put something a little bit different on the menu, and never forgets about the vegetarians. For Iowa State Fair time, three vegetarian versions of midway food classics are available at the Gateway Market Cafe. Along with a Seitan Gyro, and a Veggie Grinder, the Veggie Tenderloin is available through Fair Week until August 22nd. The Gateway Market website reads "George is crazy about the state fair..." and "even meat-eaters will find them fair-worthy". We'll see about that.

Location: 2002 Woodland Ave. in Historic Sherman Hill Des Moines. The west location at the Villages at Ponderosa, reviewed here, just recently closed

Directions: This is at the high traffic intersection of Woodland and Martin Luther King Jr.

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

The "Tenderloin": First off, it looks like a tenderloin, but doesn't smell like fried pork. The menu describes this as "A monster veggie patty on an egg bun", and I don't understand the use of the huge, toasted sesame-seed bun. The veggy patty tastes likes its mostly made of beans along with some tiny white bits of what feels like tofu. There is a solid layer of fried bread crumb bits, but beneath lies a grey and dark mass that is mushy and just no fun to eat. The patty is thick and with the big bun and toppings it weighs over half a pound.

Price: $7.50, with fries.

Also on the menu: There is a diverse selection of high end food, like fresh raw-men noodles or an expensive hamburger.
Service: Counter service with food brought to your table.

Ambiance: Air conditioning, well-dressed erudite epicurean patrons, clean tables, a distinct absence of body odor or any other smell; its basically the exact polar opposite of the State Fair that inspired this sandwich.

Final Thoughts: I just don't see any appeal to this sandwich. Its nice that someone tried to give vegetarians a taste of a pork tenderloin, but this is like a veggie burger with less texture. There are some other "tenderloin" sandwiches made from other meats around Iowa, like a turkey tenderloin, that I may check out sometime. As a general rule, I would advise people to accept no substitutes for real Iowa pork.