food & drink

Food Dude

September 16, 2010
By Jim Duncan


B & B’s pork tenderloin wins


After two months of voting, Cityview readers proclaimed the pork tenderloin from B & B Grocery Meat & Deli as “Des Moines’ Ultimate Sandwich.” In the end, it wasn’t close. The deep fried specialty from the Sevastopol neighborhood beat Uncle Wendell’s pulled pork, Taste of Italy’s meatball, and Tasty Taco’s original deep fried taco in the finals. In fact, B & B’s toughest challenge was getting out of the first round, a tough regional that included pork tenderloins from Kelly’s Little Nipper, Smitty’s, Mr. Bibb’s and Crouse Café, plus meat loaf sandwiches from BOS and the Drake Diner, and Cosi Cucina’s wood grilled chicken melt. After that, B & B rolled through the quarterfinal round like Democrats through southside precincts.

“After the Final Four story (“The Ultimate Sandwich Tournament”) came out in Cityview, people started showing up for tenderloins. We saw folks we hadn’t seen for years plus a lot of new people who were just excited to find out where they could get a real tenderloin (without sodium injected pork). For three days in a row, we sold out of tenderloins completely. That had never happened before,” explained B & B partner and deli manager John A. Brooks, Jr., as he pulled a 10-gallon container of freshly butchered tenderloins from his cooler.

Increased demand forced B & B to make some changes.

“We started selling so many tenderloins that we noticed our butcher wrap wasn’t really big enough to cover them. We started encouraging people to order them ‘whacked & stacked,’ (cut in half and stacked like a double burger) instead of sticking out over the edges. Finally we had to change the size of our butcher wrap, from 15 inches to 18 inches wide,” John said.

John and brother Joe represent the third of five generations running this 88-year-old business at S.E. Sixth and Hartford. Nine family members currently staff a place that mixes an old fashioned butcher shop with a deli that is unique, in several ways. First of all, it includes a grill and a deep fryer. So besides their signature submarine type sandwiches, you can order burgers, in sizes ranging up to the Quadzilla — four patties totaling one and a third pounds of beef. Want some fried oysters with your corned beef sandwich? Just add 75 cents per mollusk. Want headcheese or souse on your “Killer” sub? Take your choice of several kinds. Need a pig’s head or a butt with the skin left on? No problem. Want a deep fried tenderloin that isn’t pork? B & B also breads chorizo, turkey, chicken and beef for deep-frying.

B & B’s pork tenderloins might well be the only ones in the state that go directly from butcher block to deep fat fryer in a single process. They are also pork tenderloins in the literal sense. Most places make “pork tenderloins” out of tenderized portions of the entire loin, including the less desirable blade and sirloin ends.

“We only use real tenderloin from pure pork,” John Brooks explained.

B & B wasn’t the only winner in the tournament. Iowa pork also kicked butt. Five of the eight quarterfinalists were pork sandwiches. Uncle Wendell’s pulled pork finished runner-up. Even Taste of Italy’s third place meatball sandwich uses a half pork, half beef recipe. So, mark the year 2010 — that’s when pigs started to fly.


Side Dishes

Celebrity chefs fly into Des Moines tomorrow to begin cooking Saturday night’s Niman Ranch Appreciation Dinner. Headliners include Alex Ong (Betelnut of San Francisco), Sarah Jenkins (Porchetta in New York) and two Hollywood stars — Animal’s Vinny d’Otolo and Jon Shook. HajI Hinman from Denver’s Marczyk, Martin Murphy from New Hampshire’s Canoe Club and Randy Waidner from Gibson’s in Chicago will join George Formaro of Des Moines in the kitchen at the Downtown Marriott. Tickets are $75 at (641) 579-6594. CV


Caption: B&B’s tenderloin was picked as “Des Moines’ Ultimate Sandwich” by our readers.


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