Monday, September 27, 2010

Billy Jo's Bar & Grill in Algona

Algona claims it is home to the World's Largest Cheeto, but I missed out when driving through earlier this year. I had tried a couple other places around town before stepping into this Pub 'n Grub with a humble exterior on State Street.

Location: address is listed as 4 E. State St in Algona, Kossuth County in Northern Iowa.

Directions: This is right on the edge of the main street near the courthouse. Get there by taking state highway 169 and turning on State St.

The Tenderloin: From a distance this one looked like two smaller loins on top of each other. The meat here was over-tenderized and was folded in half to fit into the take-away box and stay on the bun. The pork was white, steamy hot, and had been butterfly cut before being pounded into such a huge size. This felt like it was at least seven ounces before cooking. The flour-dusted bun was toasted, tasting rich and buttery. Overall 8.0 out of ten.

Price: $8.95 with a side.

Also on the menu: the menu is large with steaks, a grilled tenderloin, and other fried stuff.

Service: There is table service or sitting at the bar.

Ambiance: This was a high-end pub 'n grub with woodwork along the booths and a seasonal patio.

Final Thoughts: This was the last thing I ate before visiting the Grotto of Redemption in nearby West Bend, thus I have taken to this one as the Tenderloin of Redemption.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dairy Sweet in Dunlap

In anticipation of the IPPA annointing another tenderloin as "best in the state" next month, I decided to write up one the the previous top tenderloin award winners. The Dairy Sweet was awarded the IPPA Best Tenderloin award in 2005. The plaques on the walls claim they sold six thousand sandwiches in 2006, and up to twelve thousand in any given year after that. A local real estate company recently listed the property with a note reading "owners looking to retire". This place was listed as "permanently closed" on google maps, but I called and they are still open. I would assume they are staying open at least until their regular winter break at the end of October.

Location: 714 Iowa Ave. in Dunlap, Iowa (population 1,139) in Harrison County, Western Iowa. Its about 50 miles north of Council Bluffs.

Directions: This place is a block west of the Lincoln Highway on the main street through town. Look for the sign.
The Tenderloin: The first thing you notice is the thickness and the odd shape. Its clearly beaten into a sort of thick and wavy loin shape with large bumps and curling parts sticking out. The bright white meat is consistently tender throughout. No two ever look the same. The fine breading here may have the most taste packed inside that I have found. There is just a ton of what tastes like seasoning salt and black pepper in every crunchy bite. I would put this one only behind The Augusta in Oxford among the tenderloins awarded by the IPPA. Overall 9.374 out of ten.

Price: $4.95
Also on the menu: Its surprisingly big with a full ice-cream selection, burgers, fried stuff and taco salads.

Service: Its counter service with a walk-up or drive-thru window on the side. It looked like three teenagers and one adult running the show when I visited.
Ambiance: This is another small town ice-cream shop with small tables in a cramped interior and picnic seating outside. I think there were jigsaw puzzles hung on the walls inside.

Final thoughts: Both of my visits to the Dairy Sweet have been special experiences while driving through the more scenic part of Western Iowa. Its really heartbreaking to see a place like this might be closing down, although I get the idea the owners are getting old and are ready to move on. Hopefully new owners can keep the tenderloin recipe intact. I really doubt any small town ice-cream shop ever suffers from a lack of business, especially over a hot summer.

Dairy Sweet on Urbanspoon