First of all, I have to apologize to whoever suggested I go to Sammy's Lounge in Cedar Rapids to try one of their pork tenderloin sandwiches. I finally did make it into Sammy's a few weeks ago and here's my story -
Sammy's Lounge is located just off of Interstate 380 in a strip mall next to a Hy-Vee near the corner of Center Point Road and Blairs Ferry Road (see map). Sammy's is what I would characterize as a working-class bar. Even during the middle of the afternoon there's an hard-scrabble crowd in the place. Not that there's anything wrong with that - I sort of tend to gravitate toward those types of places. But don't go into Sammy's thinking that your son or daughter isn't going to hear some foul language from conversations people are having. It's definitely more of a bar than a family restaurant.
Bob Hamilton was the longtime owner of Sammy's. "Was" is the operative term because sadly Bob passed away last November from cancer at the age of 66. Hamilton owned Sammy's since 1978 and made hundreds of friends over the years. The "Bob-O-Burger" on Sammy's menu is named after Bob. Hamilton's family continues to run Sammy's Lounge today.
Sammy's Lounge gets a good crowd at night with karaoke mainly on Tuesday and Saturday evenings. And you can be sure that if there's a NASCAR race on TV, Sammy's will have it on. And on my visits to Sammy's, I've seen everything from 20-somethings to 50-somethings hanging at the bar. That's a good sign for any successful bar/lounge.
Actually, I went to Sammy's Lounge for a pork tenderloin sandwich late last fall, but I got in after 2 p.m. and the cook, I believe her name is Cathy, had shut the kitchen down for cleaning. Not wanting to wait, I just had a beer and decided to come back at another time. I was passing through Cedar Rapids recently and decided to stop in a little earlier in the afternoon. This time, the grill was on and the fryer was hot. I sat at the long, rectangular bar and ordered up a pork tenderloin sandwich and a beer from the bartender.
It wasn't long before the tenderloin came out, piping hot. It was served with pickles and onion and I put mustard on the sandwich to complete the condiment trifecta. Sammy's Lounge gets their tenderloins from Fareway (there's a familiar theme with pork tenderloin places using Fareway pork - it is damn good), they hand-cut and hand-bread them in their kitchen. The tenderloin hung over the edges of the sesame-seed bun, but it wasn't pounded into submission and flattened into the size of a man-hole cover like some places will do.
The breading on the tenderloin was sort of tasty - it was more of a breading/battered coating on the tenderloin. The tenderloin, however, was a little overcooked and wasn't quite as moist or juicy as it could have been. She could have pulled it out about 30 seconds sooner and it would have been better.
But that's not to say that it's not a bad tenderloin. I don't think I can put it in the same category as Augusta and TC's Point After, but it's better than many that I've had. Sammy's Lounge acquitted themselves very well and their pork tenderloin sandwich is worth a mention.