Tenderloin Appreciation Society – Winterset Field Work – Solo Mission

Welcome to a bonus “An Artist’s Notebook” blog. A couple things before we get into the meat of this blog.

#1. Today Baby Got Rack will be competing at the Boone County Fair’s barbecue competition. They changed the rules from previous years. We are only allowed to enter to categories. We will be entering the Pork category with a tasty pork loin. We will also be entering the Specialty category with nachos. I believe the awards are announced around 4. Since you will already be there to watch the pig races, you might as well stop by Baby Got Rack’s area. There might be free samples.

#2. You can also duck into the Community Building to see the photos I entered in the photography contest. I think those usually go on display around 12 pm or so.

#3. Tomorrow night is The Union Street Movie Club’s monthly movie night. This month will be a triple feature. The B movie will be CHOSEN SURVIVORS. The feature will be AMERICAN MOVIE. Then we will conclude with the bonus of watching COVEN. Due to showing 3 movies, the projector will roll right at 6 PM. Don’t be late! We will be having pizza to celebrate Jay’s birth and Jay will be bringing a cake to celebrate America’s birth. It is going to get a little crazy.


Later today I will be releasing a blog that will include pictures from the first time The Tenderloin Appreciation Society sat in judgment upon somebody’s tenderloin offering. Because of that, I can’t sit any longer on when I made a solo trip down to Winterset to evaluate a tenderloin.

I had been trying for months to get Scottie D. to commit to go down to Winterset to the Northside Cafe to evaluate their tenderloin. It placed second to the Webster City tenderloin in Iowa Pork Producers Tenderloin Contest in 2017. Only, I couldn’t get Scottie D. to commit. It was almost as if his love for the tenderloin was waning. I became concerned.

Back in May I took my birthday off from work. Nobody was around, so I decided to make a solo trip down to Winterset for lunch, even though I don’t actually like lunching alone.

Here are some pictures from the experience:

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe
The Afton Bridge Pork Tenderloin

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe
Lightly toasted bun.

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe
Chomp. Chomp.

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe
A flattering angle.

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe
Last couple of bites.

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

Tenderloining at Northside Cafe

For starters, let me say that Northside Cafe is cool, old and historic restaurant. It is probably a bit too fancy of a restaurant for a tenderloin to fill at home, but not too fancy to feel completely out of place on the menu.

My biggest complaint by far would be the service. I arrived at the restaurant a hair before noon and it took at least five minutes before I got seated. Even though I was the only person waiting to be seated.

Then after I ordered it took well over an hour before I got my food. They had forgot to make it.

My waitress, who was very nice and friendly. Stopped by at about the 65 minute mark of waiting and said, “You haven’t got your food yet, have you?”

That would be a negatory, Ghost Rider.

She apologized profusely and I got my food about 15 minutes later.

They were kind enough to give me my meal for free. So it wasn’t all bad.



  • The meat to bun ratio was nearly dead on. Could have used a touch more meat, but awful close to the golden ratio.
  • A good thick cut of meat. Not one of those flat pork fritters masquerading as a tenderloin.
  • A good thick breading.
  • The bun was toasted. Clearly a homemade bun. Not something that came frozen off a truck.
  • It is a clean restaurant with friendly service.
  • You can get old-fashioned sodas there.
  • The standard tenderloin does not include a tomato.
  • They made up for poor service by comping the meal.
  • They serve Picket Fence Ice Cream.


  • The standard tenderloin does have lettuce.
  • While juicy, the tenderloin did not have all that much flavor.
  • The breading on the onion rings was very floury tasting.


  • Having to wait almost 90 minutes for food is awful. Especially when the restaurant is not busy and the food item you order takes 10 minutes to fix.
  • While they served a limited selection of old fashioned sodas, they served Coke products.  Mill Stream Root Beer, which isn’t a great root beer.


The Northside Cafe serves a good, but not great tenderloin. I would gladly eat it again, but I would not pursue it. It does not belong in the Tenderloin Pantheon with Nick’s or Cole’s or The Country House. However, it certainly isn’t a garbage tenderloin like The Lucky Pig or Gramma’s Kitchen or Thunderhead Sports Bar & Grill.

The Northside Cafe is a cool historic restaurant though. I would definitely like to eat there again at some point. They acknowledged their mistake with the poor service and they made amends.


About a month after I went to The Northside Cafe, Scottie D. emerged from his hiatus and we supped at Roosters in Boone. That review will be published in about 2 weeks, give or take.

4 thoughts on “Tenderloin Appreciation Society – Winterset Field Work – Solo Mission”

  1. Will have to rate my next tenderloin and cafe. Thanks for giving me something to use as a rating chart.

  2. That bun is intriguing to me. It looks almost like a flour biscuit? I am a not sure what to think about that.

  3. Tamara,

    It took me a while to figure out the best way to put this info out there. I keep forgetting to bring my tape measure! I should have brought you guys a sample on Saturday!


    It was a good bun, as I recall. I forgot to keep notes. Sometimes restaurants try the wrong type of bread with a tenderloin (for example ciabatta) , but this was a really good bun. Must have been made from scratch from somewhere.

    You can tell it was made by love because of its imperfections. It isn’t some garbage corporate bun. You know how I feel about corporate food products.

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