Looking to meet up with my friend @wibia on the west side of Carmel, and realizing there aren’t many options there (you guys have any for me?), we ended up deciding on Zionsville. We ended up at Friendly Tavern, which has literally been on my list for years. Every time I do a “best of” type list, people mention it to me as a place to get a good tenderloin sandwich.
This is the kind of old school place you want to like as soon as you walk in—it was pretty well packed for a mid week lunch—mostly with older people and also some business people. I knew I wanted to try the tenderloin ($7.99), so we agreed to get it and split it and also to split something else. So we went with a regular cheeseburger ($6.49) as well.
Honestly, overall I appreciate the fact that they are making most everything in house. The burgers are made with ground chuck and are “hand-pattied” daily according to their menu. They also ask how you want it cooked, and pretty well kept it where I ordered it. The burger was straightforward, but it was a pretty solid one. The patty was tender and cooked close to the medium I ordered (I’d go with medium rare next time). They give you the necessary accompaniments to go with it—red onion and pickles and once I put some mayo, ketchup and mustard, I was pretty happy with it. It won’t blow your mind, and you’re not getting any fancy sauces here, but it’s a good burger. We had the standard fries with the burger, which were just that—pretty standard.
Honestly, the tenderloin wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t one I would probably put on my “best of” lists for tenderloins. It was one of the super thin giant sized ones that more than covers the bun. We ended up cutting it in half and stacking it on top of each other and then adding the classic toppings—onion, mayo and pickles. It tasted decent, and they are making them there, but it was a touch too dry for me. Overall, I would prefer the burger. Or those fried chicken wings I saw coming out of the kitchen later—they looked delicious. For our side with this one we had the Buffalo Chips. These were more interesting and better than the fries. They were almost like waffle fries but without any holes that are seasoned. I wouldn’t say they tasted a lot like buffalo-flavored things, but they were nicely seasoned. (There is a slight upcharge to get fries or other sides).
I can see why this place stays around even if the food doesn’t blow your mind. It’s a cool, in an old-school divey kind of way, kind of place. The people there are friendly and you can tell it’s a place with a lot of regulars. Even though none of it stood out particularly food-wise, you feel welcome there and you sort of want to go back. And like I said, I need to at some point just to try those fried chicken wings—these aren’t like buffalo wings (which they also have), these are like pieces of fried chicken, but in the form of just little drummies and wings. They looked delicious, so if any of you guys have had them before, please let me know how they are!
290 S. Main Street