Tenderloin Appreciation Society – Ames Field Work

Due to Scottie D. and I have often contrasting busy schedules, I’ve decided to branch out and have special guests join me on Tenderloin Appreciation Society Field Work from time to time, so that I can get more tenderloin reviews out there in the world.

I know that I am a shining beacon of light in the tenderloin world, so for me to hold back that light to the rest of the world because it is difficult for Scottie D. and I to get out there and try many of the great tenderloins that the great Cyclone State has to offer would, to be brutally honest, a very selfish act.

The first guest to be deemed with the great honor of going tenderloining with me is Michelle. She earned the honor because she knew it was a great honor and has been lobbying for such an opportunity for months.

While it can be written that I can be stubborn to a vice, eventually I will feed you baby birds.

For those of you that don’t know Michelle, she is a fellow miner, but she sometimes get to run the work from home scam. She is married to Craig, who is best known for having better taste than Michelle*. They have 2 kids. You have undoubtedly seen them when Michelle contributes to the WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE. Sometimes we make trips to Otho for their Friday night All-You-Can-Eat Fish. Delicious. Don’t forget to get the hash brown!

The next tenderloin that I decided I wanted to give the Tenderloin Appreciation Society treatment was located at The Filling Station in Ames. Ames, like many towns of moderate size, does not have a great tenderloin. Tenderloins are a small town specialty. Although, there is the occasional statistical outlier like Nick’s in Des Moines.

The Filling Station is about a mile south of Jack Trice Stadium on Elwood Drive. It is in a gas station. However, despite being in a gas station, The Filling Station has kind of an uppity vibe to it. Which isn’t the best scenario. Tenderloins are best served in dives where the bathroom floor is collapsing, sharing walls with junkyards, next to campgrounds, and filled with townies giving outsiders the once over.

Here are some pictures from the field trip:

Tenderloining at The Filling Station

Tenderloining at The Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

Tenderloining at Th e Filling Station

First, let me give you Michelle’s take:

I was a little nervous walking into the Filling Station and seeing their set up. All the hot food was in a warmer. Umm, a little unnerving wondering how long the food had been sitting out. I ordered the tenderloin with all the fixings and a side of broccoli salad. The tenderloin was THICK – not like the paper-thin ones I’m used to seeing. The breading was fabulous – crunchy and flaky. The bun was soft and toasted. And while I’ll go back to my usual toppings (just onion and mustard for this gal) it was a nice change of pace to add lettuce and tomato. The sandwich was bigger than I could eat, and I ended up taking half of it home. The leftovers the next day were just as good as the day before. I would definitely go back again.

I shared some of Michelle’s trepidation with seeing the tenderloin underneath heat lamps. The Filling Station is set up more like a deli and it is weird to see fried foods in such a context.

However, the tenderloin did come out still warm. Perhaps not piping hot, but a good enough temperature. It was a good thickness and the breading was solid. My biggest surprise was how juicy it was considering that it was being held under a heat lamp. The biggest miss by far was the brioche bun. It did not pair well with the meat. If I ordered it again, I would consider taking it off the bun and just eating the meat by itself.


  • Good thick cut of meat.
  • Might have been a little short on the meat to bun ratio. Meat could have been bigger.
  • Good cut of meat that was plenty juicy.
  • Toasted bun.
  • Good flaky breading.
  • Served on actual plate.
  • Broccoli salad was delicious. Not my standard side for a tenderloin, but I love me some broccoli salad!
  • You have access to all the beverages of the gas station, so Pepsi products.
  • All the ingredients at The Filing Station are as locally sourced as they can get.
  • Their employees wear gloves and were friendly.


  • Standard tenderloin is served with lettuce and tomato. Lettuce and tomato don’t belong on a tenderloin!
  • Warming lights keep tenderloin warm, but not as good as fresh out of the oil.
  • Only open until 3 PM M-F.  2 PM on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.


  • The sweetness of the brioche bun did not pair well with the meat of the tenderloin.
  • The name The Filling Station. Now there are 2 eateries with the same name within 15 miles of each other. Now when I say, Let’s go to The Filling Station, I’m going to have to elaborate. That is extra work for me.


The Filling Station, the one in Ames, serves a good but not great tenderloin. They could almost get to the next level with a different bun. Although I will give them credit for making their buns in house. I will definitely being hitting them up for work lunch again in the future, the few times that anybody wants to go to lunch at my suck lunch hour time.


There is currently nothing in the hopper, so if you know of one you want me to review, drop me a line.

*Craig is an Iowa State fan. Michelle likes to dress like a deranged bumble bee.

13 thoughts on “Tenderloin Appreciation Society – Ames Field Work”

  1. They used to have a more standard bun – it was thinner, sort of like a thin burger joint bun. The Filling Station also underwent a HUGE renovation this past year – it used to be much more ramshackle.

    I am glad you liked it well enough – the breading was my favorite part, like Michelle. I am slightly sad you didn’t get a photo of the gas station statue – you will have to go back!

  2. Used to stop at that place before it was “the Filling Station.” Will ask Glenn if he wants to try one. Thanks.

  3. A thin bun can get dangerous. The grease in the tenderloin can destroy a thin bun.

    I think I actually did take a picture of the sculpture, I just didn’t post it. It is a great work of art!

    You’ll have to tell me about your The Octagon thing at some point.

  4. A thin bun IS sort of a catch-22 – you get more of the tenderloin flavor, but it can disintegrate easily if it’s not just thick enough.

    I’m so glad it was there when you went! I’m on the Ames Public Arts Commission, and we were all under the impression that it had gone back to the artist after its year in the sculpture exhibit. The owner of the Filling Station must have either bought it and stored it for a couple of years, or sought it out after the fact (which would make me incredibly happy that he also loved it that much)!

    I will – lunch date! I am also in an exhibit at Reiman right now of students of their classes, but I think everyone on earth got into that one. I am bummed we didn’t make it to the fair, as the timing was crazy – but I want to hear about that! I’ve never thought of entering because it’s so competitive!

  5. Are you saying you want to go get lunch at some point or are you just very enthusiastic about lunch?

    Cause I could stand to eat some food at the same table as you.

  6. That can be arranged. I still have the crappy 11 AM lunch.

    I’m free most days. I prefer not to do Fridays because that cuts into my leaving early on Fridays time. But I could even do a Friday.

  7. What about next Thursday at 11? I have zero meetings that day until 1 pm, so an early lunch would be good!

  8. I’m so sorry for being MIA there for a bit – I was home with a stomach virus the past couple of days, and am just now back on my feet and back at work.

    I’m pretty wide open! Are you limited to the South Duff area generally? Do you have any favorites? I’m taking it a bit slow with food today, but hopefully my stomach will be more adventurous tomorrow!

  9. I’d prefer South Duff area, because of time, but not limited.

    I don’t know that I have a preference. I would say no to Mongolian Buffet. But everything would be open to consideration. Off the top of my head:

    House of Chen
    Dublin Bay
    Great Plains
    Whiskey River
    Downtown Deli
    West Street Deli

    To name a few…

  10. I love all of those. I haven’t had House of Chen in over a year – would that work? Shortly after 11 tomorrow?

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