Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dexfield Diner and Pub in Redfield, Iowa

Noticing a pork tenderloin served hot beef style, with mashed potatoes and gravy, on the menu made this place a must stop on my latest trip through Redfield.

Location: 904 1st St in Redfield, Dallas County, just West of Adel in Central Iowa.

Directions: Redfield is on Old Highway 6 just a few miles West from Adel, it can also be reached from Exit 100 off of I-80 to the south.

Online at: Website with menu is HERE.

The Hot Tenderloin: This came to my table in the shape of an ice cream sundae, like the meat sundaes that get served at the state fair. I asked the waitress if the tenderloins were made here and was given the response that they were breaded here. Fair enough, the breaded tenderloin at the bottom of this was tenderized well but still thick. This could have used some slices of bread to absorb some of the gravy. The mashed potatoes and gravy were piled high but just weren't special, I got no taste of any pork in the gravy and the potatoes were just scoops of the same stuff you can find anywhere.

Price: $8.99

Also on the menu: Its a small diner and pub menu with burgers, sandwiches, prime rib, and some healthy options like salads or wraps. There was a special cooler filled with homemade pies that looked delicious.

Service: The place was not two busy but there were two servers working the tables and a cook in the back.

Ambiance: This is a very clean space with booths, tables, and a bar for seating. The high ceilings were typical of an old Main St building. The walls were covered in memorabilia of the local high school football team, including a shrine to a State Championship in 1974, and some Northwest Missouri State stuff as well.

Final Thoughts: The height made for good presentation, but I would get the regular tenderloin next time I am here.

Dexfield Diner & Pub on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Postscript: Suburban Restaurant in Gilbert, Iowa

The Suburban Cafe had been serving up homemade American comfort food for fifty years now. Its a significant milestone that few places reach, and few communities can claim a place like this one. The facebook page announced a closing on October 31, and KCCI reported a closing date of Novermber 16th soon after. Visiting the restaurant in its last week meant being greeted with a placemat with this message:

Location: 17029 Highway 69 North in Gilbert, just north of Ames in Central Iowa.

Directions: You can take Grand Ave. north from the mall in Ames, and come from Highway 69 to Gilbert Corner just outside Gilbert.

Online at: Looks like their website is down, but their Facebook page is HERE for now.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin
The Grilled Tenderloin: This is the winner of the 2004 IPPA Grilled Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Contest, the only year where the contest was about grilled tenderloins. This had a great light brown color from the grill and just a pinch of seasoning on the surface. The fat wasn't completely trimmed on mine, but the tenderizing had mad a nice chewy texture. Served on a toasted bun with all the fixins.

Breaded Pork Tenderloin
The Breaded Tenderloin: What set this breaded tenderloin apart was the layer upon layer of crunchy textured breading. The pork loin meat was always bright white on the inside, cut and trimmed well but not especially juicy.

Tenderloin Melt
The Tenderloin Melt: This was served in toasted white bread with grilled onions and melted cheese. I've had melted sandwiches with breaded pork tenderloins in a couple places and I don't think it adds much to the product.

Price: $8.50 for the grilled loin, and $9.50 for the breaded loin each with a side.
Pie Board
Also on the Menu: The specialty is fried chicken, but there are daily specials like hot beef sandwiches or chicken fried steak. The homemade desserts are listed on a Pie Board by the door, including triple layer cakes, brownies and cream pies. I was able to grab a slice of the Peach Pie topped with whipped cream on my last visit:  

Peach Pie
Service: Its table service with attentive staff and a counter to pay next to the front door.

Ambiance: The building is an classic roadside cafe. The old lights and unique fixtures add to the atmosphere and family photos cover the walls along with antiques and news articles. The wide window view of the highway and cornfields was obscured be a neon Budweiser sign. There are tables for seating and it gets crowded in the middle of the day.

Final Thoughts: I have to admit I was a little slow in getting around to writing about Suburban Restaurant. I always seemed to be driving past in the late afternoon when the restaurant was closed. The midday sun always cast some awkward shadows that made the exterior pictures look bad. I just didn't get it together until the place had already announced they were closing. Places like this never actually get replaced and they never last forever anyway. Ames has been a consistently tough place for me to find what I am looking for, but I hope to have something new to blog about from Ames soon enough.
Its all over.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Kerp's Pub in Carroll, Iowa

Kerp's Tavern does not look like much from the outside, just a sign reading KERPS FOOD COLD BEER DRINKING WISKEY. I couldn't find much about this place on my internet searches. A recent tip on foursquare about homemade tenderloins here put this tiny bar on my radar for my next stop in Carroll.

Location: 223 E. 5th St. in Carroll, on the Lincoln Highway in Western Iowa.

Directions: This is on the east side of the main business area, get here from Highway 30 and turning south on Clark or Court streets

The Tenderloin: this one was not big upon initial inspection. It had been butterfly cut yet the loin meat was extra thick. The juiciness was above average and the grain of the meat was only partly broken by the tenderizing. Breading had some salt and pepper and a crisp exterior. Served on a steamy warm bun, this was good bar food. Overall 7.9 out of ten.

Price: $4.50 a la carte

Also on the menu: Its a real basic bar food menu with low prices. There are burgers and fried stuff, and pizzas with names like "Pizza Lovers" and another pizza that claims to have nine meats piled on top. Daily specials are just $6.00

Service: Its small town bar service from the counter, I guess there is table service too. I think the other people here were regulars and the waitresses made conversation.

Ambiance: This is a low key bar with a dark interior, beer signs and sports stuff on the walls, and a pool table in the back. There is seating at the bar or tables.

Final Thoughts: I think I had tried tenderloins at a sports bar and an ice cream fountain in Carroll over the years and neither seemed worth writing about. I wouldn't put this one on the same level as the places farther south on Highway 71, but it a good tenderloin at a good price in an unexpected place. 

Kerp's on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Hub Towne House in Burlington, Iowa

I was looking at the website of the Burlington Hawkeye newspaper and found an article about an old restaurant being brought back to life with new owners or refurbishings. The Town House menu claims the family restaurant has been in business since 1947. I don't know the details of who has relaunched this place or how much has changed, but they claim to have the "Towne's Best Tenderloin" so I had to make a stop.

Location: 112 N. Main St. in Burlington, Des Moines County in Southeast Iowa.

Directions: Its the last exit before the bridge over the river, on the east side of downtown Burlington.

Online at: facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: Described on the menus as the Towne House Tenderloin, The pork loin was cut wide open before intense tenderizing and the butterfly shape was clearly visible. The breading formed a darker golden brown color, and had a seriously salted and seasoned breading with good crunchy texture. The trim job that left too much fat in the meat, and the super thin parts that dried out left this feeling like it could have been better. Overall 7.2 out of ten.

Price: $7.99 with a side of fries:

Also on the menu: The menu is huge with steaks, pizzas, pastas, burgers, fried foods, sandwiches, and salads. I think the reopening has added some new stuff like Buffalo Chicken Empanadas or giant homemade tacos.

Service: There is table and bar service. I was in a hurry and the place was too dark for photos, so I had to grab the sandwich to go.

Ambiance: The outside looks old, like the vintage decades old signage in a yellow and blue color scheme. The interior was recently renovated with a long bar area, flatscreen televisions, and tables for groups.

Final Thoughts: My guess is that people with a last name of Towne must like to name their restaurant the "Towne House." By extension, calling a homemade tenderloin "Townhouse Tenderloin" makes sense too. I wonder if any other places are doing this?

Hub Towne House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Legal Limit Pub in Boone, Iowa

I've driven through Boone once or twice but rarely made it North from the main intersection with the freeway or the Dutch Bakery on the South edge of the downtown area. The Legal Limits won an honorable mention in the 2011 Best Tenderloin Contest held by the IPPA. This meant I had to drive up north of Mamie Eisenhower to check this bar out.

Location: 702 Allen St in Boone, Iowa, about an hour drive north and west from Des Moines.

Directions: You drive up Story St from the 4 way stop on Highway 30, through downtown, and turn right on Allen St.

Online at: Facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This tenderloin combined the giant crunchiness and moist softness that many purveyors strive for. The breading formed a hard crunchy and salty layer above the meat that took a delicious dark brown hue. The pork loin was thick and juicy, consistent throughout and well trimmed of fat. Served on a giant buttered and toasted bun with your choice of fixins. Overall 8.2 out of ten.

Price: $8.25 in a basket with a side, I went with the seasoned waffle fries..

Also on the menu: There is a full breakfast menu in the morning, then later burgers, fried snacks, sandwiches, and an Over The Limit Burger. They added some gigantic burger eating challenge recently.

Seasoned Waffle Fries
Service: The bar area is small with a register for takeout. Its table service for the rest of the dining area. Things just were not happening very quickly during my two visits.

Eating in at the Legal Limit
Ambiance: This is a dive bar in every way. The plastic furniture, the outdated beer signs, the video games, the graphic posters from the drink distributors covering every empty inch of the interior.

Final Thoughts: Sometimes you can't judge a book by its cover. The Legal Limit looks like an absolute dive with the tackiest decorations and worst furnishings of almost any place I've visited. The tenderloin is the best I've found in the Boone area. Its worth stopping in, even if you don't want to stick around for long.

Leegal Limit Pub & Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Joensy's in Iowa City

Is there any single tenderloin place more legendary than the original Joensy's in Solon? These people had been promoting their claim to the Biggest and Best Tenderloin in Iowa for as long as anyone can remember. The other locations have been thriving for years in Cedar Rapids and Center Point, operated by members of the Joens family. The old location was a true small town dive that I always had on my list of places to visit eventually. Its closure came as a surprise, I had only visited the Center Point location and hadn't made revisiting enough of a priority. The convenience of the Iowa City location made a visit incredibly easy while driving through Eastern Iowa.

Location: 2563 N. Dodge St in Iowa City in Eastern Iowa, its just 9 miles south on the road from the original location in Solon.

Directions: This is just a half a block off the Interstate at the Highway 1 North Dodge St. exit north of Iowa City.

Online At: Facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: This is big but it felt like just over the usual eight ounces that most places pass off as a "jumbo" tenderloin. The very white meat is meticulously trimmed of all fat in my sandwich, while also a consistently tenderized and thin meat texture.. The interior would best be described as "steamy" but not juicy while very hot. I really couldn't taste anything in the breading, it was thick in parts where the dryness and crumbliness became a factor. Served on untoasted bun with basic fixings free. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Sandwich Menu
Price: The Large Tenderloin is listed at $9.50 but that is with fries and a choice of toppings. The plain giant tenderloin by itself was $7.00

Also on the menu: The Tenderloins are available grilled or breaded and with a giant choice of topping which don't look all that special. I understand the need to upsell and get more revenue per item but these topping just didn't look worth trying. There are also salads, steak and shrimp baskets, and other sandwiches.

Service: I walked in at lunch time and there was some quick table service. The counter is an option for to-go orders.

Ambiance: Strip mall ambiance with tables and booths for seating. The walls had mostly sports themed or beer graphics.

Final Thoughts: Joensy's goes way back, and its Solon location was a destination for Iowa City and Cedar Rapids people for years. The claim of Biggest and Best Tenderloins drew plenty of visitors but I don't know how many were regulars or just passers by. Its almost a sign of the times that a microbrewery could afford to buy out their old building, raze it to the ground, and construct a new one in its place. The attentive manager told a few patrons about Hawkeye football players stopping in recently, that might explain some things.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Classic Deli & Ice Cream Shoppe in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Iowa, the Community of Flags, the town with a sign on the Interstate that people mistake for a borough in New York City. The Classic Deli aims to recreate the old roadside Ice Cream Shoppe experience along old Highway 6 in Brooklyn. I think this place only opened in 2012, a recent comment told me to check out this place and its tenderloin sandwich.

Location: 120 N. Jackson St. in Brooklyn, Iowa just an hour west of Des Moines.

Directions: Jackson St is the Main St. reaching town from Highway 6, or you can get here from I-80 and taking county roads.

Online at: facebook page is HERE.

The Tenderloin: Listed as The Low Rider on the menu, the description claims this is cut fresh and pan fried to order. Only a handful of places make the pan fried claim, and nothing on the menu here is deep fried. The breading was crispy and flaky in some areas, and warmed to a "toasty" texture without much flavor in other parts that turned a deep black. The juiciness was great, and every part was thick with pork and juice. Overall 8.0 out of ten.

Price: $7.00 with a bag of potato chips.

Also on the menu: The full ice cream menu and deli sandwiches and paninis make up most of the menu. They don't just churn out the usual fried stuff. Check out the Pie Board for homemade pies:
Service: I think there is table service but I just grabbed takeout from the counter.

Ambiance: This is an old Main St building that was renovated and reopened in 2012. There is a long counter along with tables for seating. High ceilings, old fixtures, and Grant Wood prints on the walls make this place look good.

Final Thoughts: The Insterstate offramp for the Brooklyn exit used to have an old fashioned service station and a diner named Brooklyn 80. It had been there for a long time but I never got around to making a stop. One day it was gone and replaced with a new gas station that since shuttered its doors, so I never made it there. Its always great to see a new place open up in a town you've driven past over and over again before. 

Classic Deli on Urbanspoon