Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Machine Shed in Urbandale Iowa

 The Machine Shed is probably the busiest restaurant in all of Iowa. I can't think of any place that gets through as many guests as this place, and it has a giant parking lot and multiple dining areas to keep the flow of people moving. The Machine Shed gets a lot of visitors with out-of-state license plates, and has a bit of a reputation as a place where visitors go to eat when driving through on the interstate.

Location: 11151 Hickman Road in Urbandale, Iowa, in suburban Des Moines

Directions: Its right off the Hickman exit from 80/35 in Urbandale, in the Western suburbs of Des Moines.

Online at: Website for Des Moines location is HERE.

The Tenderloin: The first thing you notice is the flaky and slightly oily batter covering the pork meat. It had a nice crisp crunch, and the meat was deeply juicy. My tenderloin had some slightly grey loin meat, and there were tiny bits of untrimmed fat in between the grain of the meat. This was not enough  to detract from the softness of the meat, which was good throughout. Served with onions, tomato, pickle on a gigantic soft toasted bun. Overall 7.9 out of ten.

Price: $8.99 with soup and a side. I went with the chili and sweet potato fries.

Also on the menu: The menu is huge and filled with simple midwestern American foods like double cut porkchops. The breakfast or brunch buffets are decadent and huge, and prices are always very reasonable. There are also desserts like pies and giant cinnamon rolls available at a to-go counter.

Service: The servers are dressed like farm workers in denim overalls and service was okay when I stopped in.

Ambiance: The giant building right off the highway is filled with farm themed antiques, and there is a gift shop to walk through before getting to the dining area.

Final Thoughts: The menu claims the breaded pork tenderloin is their most popular sandwich, I thought it was everybody's most popular sandwich.

 The Machine Shed Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Breitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa

How many restaurants can claim they won an IPPA Best Tenderloin Award and its just a footnote to their history? Breitbach's has a legend which has developed over time after multiple fires have leveled the building. In 2009 Breitbach's was named an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation. Breitbach's is also featured in a recent documentary titles Spinning Plates, alongside Alinea Restaurant in Chicago, which I have not yet seen.

Location: The address is listed as 563 Balltown Rd. in Sherrill, but its in the small unincorporated community known as Balltown. Its near the intersection of Breitbach Road and Balltown Road, at the top of a hill with a handful of buildings making up Balltown.

Directions: You are probably visiting here from Dubuque, and then take Highway 3/Route 52 to Sherrill Road which changes into Balltown Road and leads into Balltown. You can also take James Road north from Richardsville and bear north as it turns into Horshoe Road.

Online at: Website is HERE.

The Tenderloin: I have had battered tenderloins at plenty of places and this seemed to have a little bit of a salty aftertaste. This was pounded out wider than any of the other battered loins I have tried as well. You get a huge amount of soft crispy batter to go with the very tender and bright white pork meat underneath. Served with all the fixings on a toasted bun. Overall 9.2 out of ten.

Price: $6.25 a la carte

Also on the menu: The menu is really simple midwestern food like burgers or fried chicken, and sandwiches like ham and cheese or a patty melt. There is a buffet service for lunch and a weekend breakfast buffet.

Service: I ate at the bar but there is a dining area with table service.

Ambiance: The building has been rebuilt more than once, but has the character of a rebuilt historic building. The woodwork and paintings on the walls of the nearby panorama look great. There is also a beer garden area outside for when the weather is warm.

Final Thoughts: Breitbachs claims in Spinning Plates trailer that they may serve up to two thousand people in a single Sunday between the Brunch or Breakfast buffet. Getting that kind of a following to travel from Dubuque is a mighty task that requires no shortage of consistency and quality for decades. It was fun to drive up and down the tiny hills leading into Balltown, and I hope to be able to do so again someday.

 Breitbach's Country Dining on Urbanspoon