Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Betty's Town House Cafe - Seymour, IN

So far it seems that the Hackknives picked a pretty good winter to spend as our first in Florida, as the area around our old suburban Chicago homestead has been waylaid by heavy snow, high winds, and extended bouts of sub-zero cold this December and January. We received a small taste of this brutish weather while back up North for the holidays (the air temperature on Christmas Eve morning fell to a very un-Florida-like -2F) and managed to escape town on an early Sunday morning just ahead of the next Arctic blast, driving as far as southern Indiana before finally pulling off the highway for a late lunch. Rather than suffer through another round of fast food, the missus and I opted to drive a few miles into the quiet farming community of Seymour (best known as the hometown of John Mellencamp), where our online sources pointed us towards a casual, unpretentious diner that was originally named Betty's Town House Cafe, but now is simply called Town House Cafe.

According to the sign out front, the diner has been in business since 1962 and I suspect it's changed little since the Kennedy Administration, except for the possible addition of an album cover or two from Seymour's favorite son (I'd be willing to bet M. Mellencamp has popped in a few times for eggs and coffee over the years) on the walls. A quick read of the menu shows hearty, no-nonsense dishes intended to fill up the hardworking locals that have spent a full day out in the fields. The one dish that caught my eye was the pork tenderloin sandwich, a creation usually more associated with Iowa, but done to spectacular effect here.

When my plate arrived, I was at first flummoxed by the sheer size of the tenderloin, which occupied a solid portion of real estate on the dish (see photo above) - I had to break it into halves just to get it onto the bun. As large as it was, the texture of the meat and breading was inexplicably light (almost like tempura), not the least bit heavy or greasy, and all of the garnishes (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mayo) melded perfectly with the crunchy tenderloin. Somehow, I was able to finish the whole thing and still felt as if I could go for a run afterwards, a culinary Jedi mind-trick if there ever was one. The onion rings I ordered to accompany the sandwich were also good, but, clearly, the tenderloin was the star of the show. If you are from Iowa and you ever find yourself in southern Indiana, you may suddenly be questioning basic facets of your existence after eating a Town House Cafe tenderloin sandwich (not to mention the homemade pie - we'll be back someday for that)...

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