Tenderloin Appreciation Society – Three Strikes

I went through a long drought where I didn’t experience a good (new) tenderloin for several months. I decided not to torture my people with 3 separate entries on 3 bad tenderloins. I decided just to knock them all out in one swoop.


Big Al’s BBQ – Des Moines, Iowa

Back in May, Mom, Teresa, and Sheri went to Big Al’s BBQ in Des Moines to try their tenderloin. It was somewhat hyped as a tenderloin that was smoked and then fried. Baby Got Rack tried something similar once and couldn’t make it work. This also doesn’t work.

Although I will say that there service was good, the owner was awesome, and all their other food was good.

Here are some pictures:


Tenderloining at Big Al's BBQ

Tenderloining at Big Al's BBQ

Tenderloining at Big Al's BBQ

Tenderloining at Big Al's BBQ

Tenderloining at Big Al's BBQ

Tenderloining at Big Al's BBQ

Tenderloining at Big Al's BBQ

It was the best of the 3 tenderloins in this entry, but it wasn’t good. It did have many of the qualities of a good tenderloin. Decent breading. Good size. Proper thickness. But the smoky flavor just didn’t work.


GroVer Flavors – Van Meter, Iowa

I’m not going to pile on this tenderloin. This restaurant has since closed because the owner has lung cancer.

Here are a few pictures:


Tenderloining at GroVer Flavors

Tenderloining at GroVer Flavors

Tenderloining at GroVer Flavors

Tenderloining at GroVer Flavors

It was burnt. It was too thin. Let’s not dwell on it.


Whistlin’ Donkey – Woodward, Iowa

Whistlin’ Donkey was also a disappointment and by far one of the worst restaurant experiences I’ve ever had. From the time we ordered, until the time we got our food, it was over 90 minutes.

Here are some pictures:


Tenderloining at Whistlin' Donkey

Tenderloining at Whistlin' Donkey

Tenderloining at Whistlin' Donkey

Tenderloining at Whistlin' Donkey

Tenderloining at Whistlin' Donkey

Tenderloining at Whistlin' Donkey

I do remember them having an appetizer that was delicious, but now I can’t remember what it was. I think the high point of this tenderloin is that it had a toasted bun.

As I look at these pictures, I see that my tenderloin photography wasn’t always the best. As I pursue tenderloins in 2020, I will also effort to improve the quality of the tenderloin photography.

This is my solemn vow!

6 thoughts on “Tenderloin Appreciation Society – Three Strikes”

  1. The middle one looks like really burnt bacon balled up? And the last one’s coloring is anemic? Have these people never seen a tenderloin?!

  2. It really was maybe the worst tenderloin I’ve ever had. It was worse than the tenderloin at Gramma’s Kitchen in Walcott. Under normal circumstances, I might have really piled on, but since they have already closed, I didn’t see the need.

    They were a sorta high end restaurant with fresh, organic ingredients. So basically they had no business making a tenderloin. Although everybody else was also disappointed with their food, except Jesse. He got some kind of Mexican skillet thing. They claimed to be the only restaurant in Iowa that made it.

    I can’t even put into words how profoundly disappointing Whistlin’ Donkey was. I was hoping to have a great tenderloin right in my backyard. Fortunately, if I’m really itching for a tenderloin, I can head down to Luther. If I don’t want to go that far and don’t mind terrible service, I can go to Rooster’s in Boone.

  3. I just remembered some really good tenderloin strips that I had down in Bondurant, and I’ve heard their sandwich is award-winning, too. This place:

    https://www.thebrickstreetmarket.com/cafe-menu

    We went there a couple of years ago with the kids’ godparents, and it was fantastic – I liked the tenderloin strips as sort of a low-carb alternative, they were served like chicken strips. But I want to say maybe Jon got the sandwich and I had a bite, and it was really good. I think he got the onion bun? It might be worth a trip, I just googled and I guess it is considered really good.

    Ambience is weird, though. It’s a local healthy-ish grocery store, and it’s off to the side in the grocery store.

    I know it’s not as close, but might be a good detour to Des Moines every once in a while.

  4. I have heard good things about that place before or at least about some place in Bondurant. I will have to try it some day. I don’t make it to Des Moines too much these days.

    I do enjoy places with weird ambiance though.

  5. We only go once every few months; I’d rather support local. But the Bondurant place was really good! And definitely weird.

  6. I’d rather support local too. That is why I buy my coffee at the local Starbucks, go to lunch at my local Burger King, buy my laundry detergent at my local Wal-mart.

    I pretty much keep the little guy in business.

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