Indy Tenderloin Tour – Plump’s Last Shot
(First in a series of five appearing every Tuesday through May 22, 2012.)
Any food tour needs to include things iconic in nature. Other than the Indy 500, what else is synonymous with Indiana? You got it – high school basketball. And what basketball movie is most connected with Indiana? No, it’s not Blue Chips. What’s wrong with you? It’s Hoosiers. Filmed on location in Indiana, the fictional Hickory Huskers were inspired by the small school Milan Indians of 1954 . The player who took the last shot to beat Muncie Central that day was Hoosier hero Bobby Plump. Bobby, who still advocates a return to a single-class basketball tournament in Indiana, is the owner of Plump’s Last Shot in Broad Ripple, an Indy neighborhood near Butler University. And a bar with that kind of pedigree MUST serve a breaded tenderloin sandwich. They call it The Hoosier Tenderloin.
We rolled in on a Sunday at noon. Plump’s radiates…something. And that’s not a knock. It has a hippie/hiker/neighborhood vibe. The location is an old house adjacent to the Monon Trail  and off the main drag. It’s dog friendly with a great outdoor seating area. Our friendly bartender Robin offered up menus and beer specials. We ordered two breaded beauties and watched ESPN while we waited.
Here’s what arrived.
Look good, huh? The sandwiches were HOT. As we decided our plan of attack, we heard a serious pounding coming from the kitchen. My son and I exchanged knowing glances. It was Fred, the cook, pounding out pork loin for the sandwiches of the people who had just ordered. I believe that’s called “fresh.” Zach chose to cut his tenderloin in half and double it. I sliced the overhang off and dipped it in mayo until the sandwich was small enough to hold. It was great.
When Fred emerged from the kitchen, he told us that Plump’s cuts, trims, and pounds its tenderloins daily. Nothing frozen here. It’s coated in buttermilk and dredged through panko bread crumbs, flour, and spices. The panko gave it a really crisp texture that held up for the half-hour it took to eat it. With pickles, onions, and mayo, it was an absolute game winner. My rating: it’s a checkered flag.
Checkered Flag: It’s a winner. Picture should be on the Pork-Warner Trophy.
Green Flag: It’s a go. Solid competitor with a chance to be a winner.
Yellow Flag: Warning. Something is not copacetic.
Black Flag: Get this pig off the track.
1. Here’s the link to the gym that was the home of the Hickory Huskers in the movie. It’s in Knightstown, Indiana, just a short hop on US 40 or I-70 east of Indy. When I was in high school, we would occasionally sneak in and play ball on a weekend. The gym was no longer used for competition. We would crawl through the window of the old Wilkinson High School gym to do the same thing. Good times.
2. This is the true story of Bobby Plump and Milan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Milan_High_School_basketball_team
3. Bobby Plump is truly iconic. Here’s his Wikipedia page. The links to the USA Today and The NY Times articles are worth the click. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Plump
4. The father coaching the team in Hoosiers tells Gene Hackman: “Fact is, mister, you start screwin’ up this team, I’ll personally hide-strap your ass to a pine rail and send you up the Monon Line!” We really do talk like that in Indiana. The Monon Trail is a hiking/biking trail in the Indy area that was called the Monon Line when it was still a railroad. Pretty cool. Here’s a link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monon_Trail