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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2021 812 Magazine

Hoosier born & breaded

Find out what makes these 812 tenderloins classics.

Roger Sharp and Laura Kindle own Gnaw Bone BBQ and Original Gnaw Bone Tenderloin. Sharp created the sandwich in 1996, and they now they sell it from their catering cart. /Photo by Haley Ward

Most food historians agree Indiana is the birthplace of the breaded tenderloin. An undisputed fact, though, is that this crispy, savory sandwich remains a Hoosier favorite. You can find this classic sandwich in pubs and restaurants across the region.

What makes the Hoosier tenderloin special?

Rick Garrett, a food blogger and the self-proclaimed “Tenderloin Connoisseur,” says Indiana and Iowa are the states best known for breaded tenderloins, but each has its own personal take on it.

In Iowa, breaded tenderloins are pounded out thin, while Indiana’s tenderloins are thicker, like a pork chop. That’s what Garrett prefers. “You get the texture of the crust of breading and then the firmness of the meat,” he says. “When the sandwiches are pounded out too thin, you kind of lose that differentiation in the middle.”

Not only is Indiana’s tenderloin special, it is rooted in Indiana’s history. Jane and Michael Stern wrote in Gourmet magazine that the tenderloin came from Nick Frienstein’s cart in Huntington, a town founded by German immigrants. In 1904, Frienstein drew on his German roots to construct the sandwich at Nick’s Kitchen, using meat they had in the area: pork.

“They took basically the breading of a schnitzel and put it on a pork tenderloin,” Garrett says.

With Garrett’s help, 812 Magazine compiled some top tenderloins in Southern Indiana.

Where to find them

Gnaw Bone BBQ & Original Gnaw Bone Tenderloin
Where: Nashville (check Facebook for locations)
Cost: $6.50 (cash only)
On the sandwich: Whatever you want on a hamburger bun

Roger Sharp and Laura Kindle sold their gas station, Gnaw Mart, to focus more on the food. Now, their catering cart sets up shop around Nashville and Martinsville. Gnaw Bone’s tenderloin was featured in Gourmet magazine, as well as the Food Network. The Gnaw Bone tenderloin is huge — a thick chop fried and served on a bun — and they cook it to order. This juicy sandwich makes your mouth water. Sharp and Kindle receive a special hand-cut tenderloin which is fresh, never frozen. They hand bread each sandwich and also roast it, which creates a special crispy texture and taste that makes this classic tastier than others.

Where: 101 E. Main St., Madison
Cost: $6.99 for sandwich and chips
On the sandwich: Plain on a garlic-coated Kaiser roll

Shooters is a quaint sports bar in a historic building in downtown Madison. This family-friendly restaurant is the perfect place to bring your family, watch a game on their flat-screen TVs and chow down on a tenderloin. It has light and crispy breading that’s not greasy. It’s served on a toasted Kaiser roll with garlic butter on top, chips and a pickle. You can get fries and coleslaw for $2.99 extra.

Trojan Horse
Where: 100 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington
Cost: $6.75
On the sandwich: Whatever you want on a hamburger bun

Located on the courthouse square in Bloomington, the Trojan Horse is charming with IU memorabilia covering the wood-paneled walls. The Trojan Horse is known for its Greek food, but Garrett says it has a great-tasting tenderloin. Instead of traditional breading, the Trojan Horse coats its tenderloin with a fish breading that gives it extra crispiness. For a healthier option, it offers a grilled tenderloin.

You be the judge

If you can’t get enough tenderloins, the Tenderloin Throwdown this summer will let you try dozens at once.

Second Annual Tenderloin Throwdown
Where: Downtown Greensburg on the courthouse lawn
When: July 25

In its second year, the Tenderloin Throwdown gives cooks a chance to compete in categories such as Best Breaded, Best Grilled, Most Creative and People’s Choice. Last year Greensburg's Lincoln Street Grill took home Best Breaded and Best Grilled tenderloin, and Greensburg’s Mayasari Indonesian Grill took home Most Creative and People’s Choice. Visit http://www.mainstreetgreensburg.com/ for more information.