How serious are Iowans about their breaded pork tenderloins? Serious enough that there are two blogs devoted to the topic – “Stalking the Wild Pork Tenderloin in Iowa” and “des-loines” (des loines/Des Moines, get it?)
When I told our friends Jerry and Barb Zinn that my current Number One breaded pork tenderloin sandwich was in Springfield, IL, they felt the need to bring the Iowa tenderloin back to its rightful position. So they proposed a road trip (if driving ten miles constitutes a road trip) to Solon, IA, the home of Joensy’s Restaurant that claims to served the biggest and best tenderloin.
The minute we pulled into the parking lot, Chuck and I had the same three reactions. “This looks just like Domilese's in New Orleans!” “This place is a dive!” “This is our kind of place!”
First, you ask yourself whether Joensy’s is a restaurant that serves “adult beverages” or a bar that serves food. The answer is that it is a bit of both. The décor is definitely utilitarian with the knotty pine paneled walls and black vinyl booths and chairs.
The bar with its limited number of stools also serves as the take-out order and pick-up counter with the sandwich and appetizer menu posted above.
Gizzards. Yum. But not on this trip.
I know that the dinner menu contained a number of items, but I really didn’t pay attention. I was there for the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. The biggest and best pork tenderloin. When you google “breaded pork tenderloin sandwich” and click on the wikipedia entry, you will see a photo of a sandwich from Joensy’s Cedar Rapids restaurant. (There is a third in Center Point, IA.)
Chuck, not being a pork tenderloin person, ordered the jumbo cheeseburger with fries and slaw (below). I must admit that this was one of the better burgers we have recently en-countered— much better than Hamburg Inn No.2 and the equal of that at Short’s Burger ‘n Shine (both in Iowa City).
Jerry joined me in the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich (no photo available) with fries and slaw.
Barb, ever the health conscious one of the group, ordered a large salad covered with multiple strips of breaded tenderloin (above).
Living dangerously, I began my lunch with a bottle of Back Road Stout (an oatmeal-based beer) from the Millstream Brewing Co. in Amana, IA. “The 'oatmeal' refers to the 10% oatmeal in the grist of this brew. Oats give beer a real thick mouth-feel, something definitely desirable in a stout! Black malt and roasted barley give the beer its color, and coffee-like flavors” (www.millstream brewing.com). As a lover of dark beers, I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
But enough about beer. What about the tenderloin? This was everything you could want in a tenderloin. Huge. Dwarfing the bun. Pounded to about a quarter-inch
thickness and then coated. Fried so that the very edges are crisp and the interior is tender and juicy. Perfect. A picture of porcine pulchritude.
Perfect for utilizing my pork tenderloin eating technique of nibbling the meat extending from the bun until the remaining meat is bun-encased. I must admit that by the time I had eaten the extending pork tenderloin, I was almost full. No problem. The remaining two-thirds of the sandwich made a great breakfast the next morning. Cold pork first thing in the morning. As Rachel Ray would say—“Yummo.”
Having just partaken in porcine perfection, how could I leave Joensy’s without purchasing a t-shirt that will proudly proclaim my pride of pork?
As we were leaving, we stopped to briefly talk with Bryan Joens (No, that’s not a typo) and to compliment him on both his delicious hamburgers and his princely pork sandwich.
We have a new leader in the clubhouse and Joensy’s breaded pork tenderloin sandwich has vaulted into the Number One position. This was a 5.0 Addie sandwich.
*I wish I could take credit for the headline, but this is courtesy of our friend Jerry Zinn.