I figured it was about time to sort through the ol mailbag, given that the holiday rush has officially started.
I am going to lead off this installment by answering a question I received over the most popular form of communication I receive questions from other than e-mail – voice mail.
Almost daily, the red light on my phone is on with a message from someone wanting to know where to take that special date, where to book a party of 25 for Mom and Dads anniversary or just wanting to know where to get a good burger or something.
A nice woman from the northeast side of town left me a message recently wanting to know a good place for fried fish. She had tried Gropps Famous Fish of Stroh and was hoping I had some other suggestions, especially ones near her side of town.
A lot of places do fried fish, but here are a few that popped into my head first:
Old Towne Diner, Leo-Cedarville – Fried Alaskan pollock fillets are available daily in two-piece, three-piece, four-piece or all-you-eat dinners. It is lightly breaded on-site and it has always been moist, flaky and never greasy when I have had it.
Willies Family Restaurant, 6342 St. Joe Center Road – The big pollock fillets here are covered with a rather standard crispy breading, but the fish itself is surprisingly flavorful.
Trolley Steaks and Seafood, 2898 Devon Drive – Several kinds of fish are available here. There is almond-crusted walleye that can be ordered as an appetizer, sandwich or dinner. It is covered with an Italian breadcrumb mix along with the almonds but can be ordered broiled if you prefer it that way. Pollock is also available, and it is lightly dusted with a breading mix similar to Fish of Strohs.
The White Dove Café, Monroeville – It is not exactly in the callers neck of the woods, but its super crispy, beer-battered pollock is worth a mention here. The cafe is open until 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and the fish is available only on Fridays.
I love fresh, hand-pounded, lightly breaded fried tenderloins, but they are getting tough to find – especially on the north side of Fort Wayne – since Speedway Cafe and Acme Bar & Grill closed. Two questions:
1. Whos the king of fried tenderloins on the north side of Fort Wayne?
2. Who are the top six fried tenderloins in the city/county in your opinion?
Greg, Fort Wayne
I am asked about tenderloins more than any other food, and I have had my share around these parts. On the north side, I would have to venture just outside of Fort Wayne to Leo-Cedarville and have the tenderloin at Old Towne Diner. They are thick and meaty with a perfectly crispy exterior, and may be even better plain grilled instead of deep fried.
If you want to be just a little closer, you could go west on Indiana 1 to Leo Crossing and have one at Dupont Bar and Grill. It is not as impressive as some of my overall bests, but it is solid and wont disappoint.
So whose are best?
Nicks Junction, Roanoke – owned by the son of the tenderloin pioneer Nick Freinstein, who owned Huntingtons legendary Nicks Kitchen and is said by some to be the one who invented the Hoosier staple. The ones at the Junction are made just like the originals in Huntington. They are coated with a coarse, crumbly breading that is not overly crunchy. The meat is tender but still somewhat firm and plenty juicy. The loins at Nicks Kitchen and Junction are the best I have ever had.
Laycoffs Bar & Grill, 3530 N. Clinton St. – This hand-breaded loin is one of the thickest around.
Old Towne Diner
Rack and Helens Bar, New Haven – The hand-breaded beauties here have a little black pepper in their crunchy, coarse breading to make them interesting.
Green Frog Tavern, 820 Spring St. – It is the sandwich I get pretty much every time I go to the tavern because the decently thick, decently meaty loins never disappoint.
Big Eyed Fish, 1502 N. Wells St. – The fish here is pretty darn good, but the hefty tenderloins may be even better. The meat on these is tenderized a bit more so they are not as meaty as some on this list, but they, too, never disappoint.
(The following question came from The Journal Gazettes message board, The Board, which can be found at www.journalgazette.net.)
Like you, I am an avid fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.
If there was one place in Allen County that you would have host Guy Fieri check out, what establishment would it be?
T-jet, Fort Wayne
I have contemplated this a lot, and there are a lot of great places that would be perfect locales.
I would probably say Nicks Junction because of its history when it comes to the breaded tenderloin. I also might send him to Salvatoris, the awesome little Italian joint in a truck stop/gas station outside New Haven. I think Guy might dig that place.
And, of course, Coney Island and Powers Hamburgers would be great spots.
So there you go; you ask me for one place and I give you four.
Have you happened across a place that serves alligator tail? It is very good, but I havent found it in Fort Wayne lately. I knew of one place a few years ago at a restaurant in Riviera Plaza, but it is not there any longer.
Dawn, Fort Wayne
I am always on the lookout for unique foods to try, but, honestly, I have never found myself wondering why we dont have any good alligator in these parts.
I know gator is a kitschy, fun food that a lot of places down in Florida serve, but I have never seen it or heard of it anywhere outside of there. If anyone can tell me where you can find some somewhere close, I will be sure to mention it in a future column.