The Annual Quest For The Classic Tenderloin
One thing that I like about going to the Grand Prix weekend, is that you get to do a lot of things without dealing with the crowds. If you’ve been reading George’s posts very long, you know how much he likes to eat. Whenever we go to a new city where he’s been before, he starts mapping out where our meals will be before anything else. Most people go to New Orleans for the partying. George goes to eat.
It’s even more ramped up at Indianapolis, where tradition and his familiarity with the place combine for a restaurant list too long to complete. One place he’s never taken me is St. Elmo’s Steak House in downtown Indianapolis. He and his former wife went there several times in the early nineties, so why can’t I go? Hmmm…
We’ve already checked off a couple of things off of our list this year, even though we will probably repeat some or all of them. Friday night, we went to the Mug-n-Bun. The food there is OK, but you go for the root beer and the ambience. We’ve done the sit-in-the-car drive-in thing, but it’s best to go to the dining room across the parking lot or grab an open picnic table outside? Why? Because George usually gets a cheese-coney fully loaded, that usually ends up in his lap if we’re sitting in the car.
Saturday night, we met up with friends at Dawson’s on Main in Speedway. We love it there and even took our wedding guests there the night we got married (four years ago tomorrow, by the way). The food is good, the atmosphere is relaxed and we usually see a driver or someone involved in racing while we’re there (even though we didn’t see anyone Saturday night).
Then Sunday, we met them at Charlie Brown’s for breakfast before going to Long’s Donuts for, well…donuts.
But checking off items on the list of restaurants is nothing compared to the annual quest that goes on inside the track…the search for the old-school classic tenderloin.
Someone sent a tweet to George on Thursday about new items added to the hated tenderloin at the Alley Café behind the Pagoda. Besides the bacon, spicy mustard, jalapeños and pepper-jack cheese – they had added carrots, celery and even cauliflower to the ever-growing list of toppings. I don’t get as bent out of shape as my eccentric husband does over such things. I figure if you don’t like the toppings, take them off. But even I‘ll admit that adding parts of a salad bowl is a little over the top.
Since that new tenderloin showed up two or three years ago, I’ve been dragged all over that track trying to locate the old style that is just a well-seasoned breaded tenderloin on a toasted bun. One year, we found them under Stand A. Last year, the morning of the Grand Prix, we finally tracked them down under Stand J.
With it being so cold last weekend, we didn’t make it down to J. But there were no food stands open under the Paddock stand. Stand A had a couple open, but none sold tenderloins. We were wanting to see the new plaza outside of Turn One, so we kept going…and going…and going.
We finally found a new food stand in the new plaza that sold tenderloins served on a BISCUIT, if you can believe that. George found that odd enough, but he was also overly confounded that the biscuit was square. It came with jalapeño slaw (yuck!), but you could order it plain which is how he got it. As weird as coming on a biscuit sounded, he decided to give it a try. I’ll give my husband credit; he at least tried something new and different, which totally goes against his grain.
He ate about two-thirds of it before doing something I’ve never seen him do…he threw it away! I’m not a biscuit lover, but George is. He said the biscuit was actually good, but the tenderloin was tasteless and dry. He gave me a bite of the meat (before he threw it in the trash) and I agreed. There was no seasoning in the batter at all. The traditional tenderloin has a fair amount of pepper, but this had none. It had no taste and no moisture. I can guess how dry it would be on a biscuit which is already dry by nature. I did snap this while he was trying to eat it. The look on his face was priceless.
I’ll admit that I dread next weekend. I know that I’ll be dragged all over the track in search of the traditional classic tenderloin, starting Saturday morning when they open up the concession stands underneath the main grandstands. God help me if they don’t have them there. He won’t just stop looking, assuming they no longer have them and give up. He’ll just look harder. This will take on more importance than what is happening on the track. I can already see I’ll be hauled down to Stand J and then across the entire property to a stand inside Turn Two. My legs are still hurting from walking around last weekend. I can only imagine what they’ll feel like if he doesn’t find his precious tenderloin. It’s going to be a very long month.