I took my first bite and was hooked. The next day, I tried a loin dressed the way the sports editor ordered his. Loved it. And as the months and years rolled by, I tried other combinations of condiments and vegetables before settling on lettuce, tomato and mayo.
My favorite breaded tenderloin during my years in Peru was the hand-breaded beauty at the old Paramount on Third Street, which understood the key to a great loin: A juicy, crispy, crunchy patty stuffed between a soft bun and complemented with fresh veggies and condiments. The meat was not too thin. When it is, you wind up eating mostly breading, which makes the sandwich a loser, no matter how good the breading is.
When my older sister and her husband, who lived in Santa Barbara, visited my wife and me almost 20 years ago, we took them to the Paramount. My brother-in-law — who knew his way around a kitchen, had eaten in dozens of places around the world, and could be fussy when it came to food — took his first bite of a Paramount loin and broke out into a wide smile.
The next day, we took my sister and brother-in-law to Silver Lake to hunt for antiques. We stopped at a small place in the little town — the name escapes me — and he ordered the loin. The breading was different than the kind at the Paramount, and he ordered the loin with different condiments and veggies, but the sandwich was just as scrumptious.
Since being introduced to the breaded tenderloin, I’ve had hundreds in Hoosier burgs — North Manchester, Wabash, Huntington (Nick’s Kitchen, which claims to have invented the sandwich), Fort Wayne (I adore Durnell’s), Michigan City, Winamac, Culver, North Judson, Swayzee, Sweetser (the spelling might be wrong, but it was Kooch’s Kove), Indianapolis (Binkley’s), Bloomington (I favor The Office Lounge), Ellettsville, Brazil, Kokomo, Terre Haute, Kentland, Attica and my latest stop, Holt’s Café in Judah, a miniscule burg between Bloomington and Bedford. Yes!
Occasionally, while devouring a great loin in one of those places, I’d be reminded of William Herschell’s famous poem: “Ain’t God Good to Indiana?”
So what’s your favorite (or used-to-be favorite) place for a breaded tenderloin?
Ray Moscowitz of Bloomington is a retired newspaper executive and former publisher of the Peru Tribune. Contact him at email@example.com.