Grid Iron in Webster City serves up top tenderloin
Restaurant takes best honor in Pork Producers statewide competition
WEBSTER CITY — A Webster City restaurant has been selected as the winner of the 2017 Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest, sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
The Grid Iron Grill and Sports Lounge, owned by Burke Risetter, was judged to have the very best tenderloin in the state.
“It was a huge surprise,” Risetter said. “This is awesome. I can’t stop smiling.”
Risetter learned that his restaurant had claimed the top honor after several rounds of judging.
“It started out with 271 restaurants, I believe,” he said. “Then they cut it down to 43 and then we were told they would let us know if we were moving forward.”
Risetter said a man stopped for lunch a little over a week ago and asked to talk to the owner.
We sat down and talked and discussed how we do our tenderloins. He told me we were in the top five,” he said.
“I knew we were close with the flavoring, the breading and we had finally found the loin we wanted to use. I just was confident that it was a perfect product, at least to my taste buds.”
The Grid Iron Grill has been in business since 2008 when Risetter and his uncle opened the restaurant. Risetter buys 300 to 400 pounds of fresh pork a week and serves about 400 tenderloins each week. Fresh pork loins are cut daily and each tenderloin is 7 to 8 ounces. They are tenderized twice, tapped out instead of pounded out and given a light egg wash. One fryer is used for all pork items to preserve the true pork flavor.
One contest judge, Phillip Carey, executive chef and professor at the Des Moines Area Community College Culinary Institute, had high praise for the Grid Iron tenderloin.
“A wonderful golden brown, center cut, cooked to perfection breaded pork tenderloin. The even thickness of the pork loin made this sandwich very enjoyable to eat. A true test of a good breaded pork tenderloin is you can eat it with just a bun. This one was that type of sandwich and I’m ready to go back for another,” he said.
Risetter said he was thrilled just to be one of the contest finalists and is proud of his entire 24-member staff.
“I’ve been in food service my whole life and I always wanted my own business,” Risetter said. “I feel like this is a little bit of a reward and I’m thrilled to death.”
The award confirmed what many local residents already knew. The Grid Iron has been awarded Readers Choice awards in the annual Daily Freeman-Journal competition — claiming honors for best tenderloins and burgers.
The IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee will make the official presentation at the restaurant. Risetter will receive a check for $500, a plaque and a large banner to display. The Grid Iron Grill also will need to brace itself for a substantial increase in traffic.
“I’m hearing ‘be prepared.’ The people from Iowa Pork Producers said to prepare for the ‘tenderloin tsunami,'” Risetter said. He added that he had spoken with last year’s winner who gave him the heads up on what to expect.
“He told me the day after the announcement, he sold like 280 more tenderloins than the day before it was announced,” he said. “I think we’re ready.”
IPPA judges selected the Northside Cafe in Winterset as the runner up in this year’s contest. IPPA will present the cafe with a check for $250 and a plaque. The Buffalo Tavern in Burlington, Lake View’s Thirsty Carp and the Double Dip in Chariton rounded out the top five finalists. These restaurants will receive a Top Five Plaque to display in their restaurant.
Those who submit restaurant nominations also win in this contest. Everyone who nominated the Grid Iron Grill was entered into a drawing for $100 from IPPA. The winner was Ryan Cushman, of Webster City, who will now be able to enjoy many of the grill’s tenderloins.
IPPA received 3,014 nominations with 271 different establishments named. The committee judged 43 establishments on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.
The Grid Iron Grill is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, when it serves a brunch.