Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Nick’s Kitchen | Indiana Tenderloins and Sugar Cream Pie
Review by: Jane & Michael Stern
Tale of the Tenderloin
For tenderloins and sugar cream pie, Nick’s Kitchen of Huntington, Indiana, can’t be beat.
That’s saying a lot, considering the tenderloin ranks as one of America’s great regional sandwiches. Nick’s Kitchen claims to have invented it. The story goes like this: Nick Frienstein started frying breaded pork cutlets in 1904 to sell in sandwiches from a street cart in town. Four years later he opened a small café called Nick’s Kitchen. One winter his brother Jake suffered such severe frostbite that he lost the fingers off his hands. Jake, whose job it was to bread the slices of pork, found that his stumps made good tools for pounding the meat to make it tender.
So it is that the Midwest tenderloin (no need to say pork tenderloin) is defined as a sandwich of pork that the cook either beats tender by hand or runs through a mechanical tenderizer (or both).
This Sandwich Sets a High Bar
Jean Anne Bailey, whose father owned the town café starting in 1969, now runs Nick’s Kitchen. She soaks her pork cutlet in buttermilk to generate a tangy twist that balances the meat’s sweetness. She then dredges it in rugged cracker crumbs (not the more typical fine-grind cracker meal). Frying yields a wavy disk of audibly crunchy pork that wants to drip moisture as soon as teeth glide through its crust. The colossal cutlet extends a good two to three inches beyond bun, practically eclipsing its plate. Its very appearance declares tenderloin greatness.
And, Oh, Those Pies!
Don’t come to Nick’s Kitchen only for blue-ribbon tenderloins. It is more than a tenderloin stop. This friendly three-meal-a-day town cafe dishes out fine breakfast and a noontime array of daily specials. Then there are Jean Anne’s pies — some of the best anywhere. She makes them using a hand-me-down dough recipe that incorporates a bit of corn syrup. The recipe yields crust that flakes at first touch. It virtually evaporates on the tongue, melding with brilliant-flavored rhubarb or black raspberries. Butterscotch pie – which she learned to cook from her grandmother – packs flavor that is as buttery as it is sweet. Sugar-cream pie, Indiana’s signature dessert, is like cream candy in a savory crust. Tenderloins and sugar cream pie: That defines edible heaven, Indiana-style.
Directions & Hours
- Monday: 6:00 AM – 2:00 PM
- Tuesday: 6:00 AM – 2:00 PM
- Wednesday: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Thursday: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Friday: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Saturday: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Sunday: 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|