We headed out on our second major RV tour on Monday, May 11th. Our first stop was in La Crosse, WI and staying overnight at our son's house. That was a low-key inauspicious start but a necessary stop to see our grandsons. It was kind of on the way.
The next day we drove straight through to the West Bridge State Recreational Area campground on Salamonie Lake near Andrews, IN. More importantly it was very near North Manchester and Huntington. We picked a beautiful site conveniently right on the lake with no one near by.
Unfortunately it was cold and windy and it rained all day the next day. See that pod on the back? That's new and it held our two new inflatable kayaks. Needless to say we didn't use them. This nice sunny picture was from the morning we left.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday we could take our time, guilt free of neglecting outdoor recreational pursuits, and spent a good part of our afternoon at Mr. Dave's
in North Manchester, IN.
Mr. Dave's, as the sign says, opened in 1962 on a site that was once a gasoline station. That was in evidence in that you had to actually step outside to access the restrooms which reminded me of many British pubs we stopped at. "Nationally Known" refers to many mentions by the Jane & Michael Stern roadfood books, Gourmet Magazine and TV shows. Mr. Dave (Clapp) was prominently featured in Jensen Rufe's short video documentary, In Search of the Famous hoosier Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Dave Clapp, creator and former owner of Mr. Dave's is shown here with current owner, and son, Kevin.
Dave Clapp is also the son of a restaurant owner. His father had a more traditional homestyle plate type place. Dave started serving pork tenderloin sandwiches in 1962. He did reminiscence that his father did know Nick Freinstein, the owner of Nick's Kitchen and actually ate one of Nick's original pork tenderloin sandwiches. That was sometime before 1940. Clapp mentioned that everyone called them veal
sandwiches back then but they were actually pork. Now we call them pork tenderloin
but they are actually pork loin
. The tradition of the area inspired Dave Clapp to start serving them.
This is Dave Clapp showing a whole pork loin. From this pork loin they cut and tenderize 3-1/2 to 4 ounce cuts for breaded pork tenderloins. The one end with a tenderer darker meat is reserved for the grilled tenderloins and the ends are used for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.
Here is the menu. You order from a counter, sit down, wait and then pick up your order on a tray. Dave Clapp was more gracious. He personally took our order.
The menu is extensive with hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, but I was there for the tenderloins. So let's get with it. Mr. Dave's serves both a breaded and grilled pork tenderloin sandwich. I ordered the breaded and Nancy ordered the grilled. They were absolutely top notch.
Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Grilled Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
It is all over the internet and probably will never die that Mr. Dave's will mail tenderloins around the country. I believe that was mentioned in Jensen Rufe's video. The truth is the State of Indiana shut them down from doing so a good 10 years ago. here is an interesting article I took a picture of off the wall of the restaurant explaining it.
All in all, it was a good way to pass a rainy afternoon. We were there for a good two plus hours after the initial lunch rush and just before a seemingly early afternoon rush around 2:30 PM. Dave Clapp had been after me for over two years to visit Mr. Dave's from the day he first heard of my stopping at Nick's Kitchen. I made the time this year by staying at the nearby lake for two nights on our way to the RV.net B6 Rally in Ohio. Dave, as I mentioned, was a very gracious host. He is retired now and spends his winters in Florida but enjoys coming back in the summers and working in the restaurant. He is clearly proud of his pork tenderloin sandwich heritage and rightly so.