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Mt. Pleasant is home to Iowa’s Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin

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From news reports

Date Modified: 11/14/2013 8:11 AM

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MT. PLEASANT, Iowa — The Iowa Pork Producers Association has selected a southeast Iowa restaurant as the winner of the 2013 Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Contest.

River Rock Cafe owners Butch and Melissa Bittle received $500, a plaque and statewide publicity for winning IPPA's 11th annual contest. IPPA's Restaurant and Foodservice Committee made the award presentation Oct. 16. The cafe has a Mount Pleasant mailing address but actually is located in Oakland Mills.

"I am just so amazed to have won," said owner Butch Bittle. "I have been working toward this award since we opened, and it's such an honor for both me and my staff. Hats off to the local pork producers who raise the product for me."

River Rock Cafe double coats its hand-pounded pork tenderloins in a cracker and bread crumb mixture and serves about 500 tenderloins per week. The sandwich is $5.

"What makes the sandwich so special is the people who come to eat it," Bittle said.

Since winning the title, Bittle has noticed customers coming from all over to try the sandwich.

"We've had a lot of people come," he said. "They've been here from places like Des Moines, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Cedar Rapids and Hedrick.

209 Main in Paton came in second in the contest and will receive $250 and a plaque. Rounding out the Top 5 finalists was the Hard Luck Cafe in Kalona, Doosky's Pizza & Patio Restaurant in Hinton and Malarky's Pub in Storm Lake.

Everyone who nominated River Rock was put in a drawing for $100 from IPPA. The winner is Jordan Ross, of Mount Pleasant.

"The best breaded pork tenderloin contest provides the opportunity for restaurant owners to talk about pork and share their pride in an Iowa product," said Chef Phil Carey, committee member. "The winning restaurant is a small, very unique place that makes you feel welcome when you walk in. The owner is very passionate about pork, and this award will make his whole year."

The best breaded pork tenderloin contest attracted 373 nominations this year and 42 restaurants received the required three or more nominations. Initial judging was done by producers and members. The five finalists were selected in early September and final judging was completed by a judging panel appointed by the IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee. Tenderloins are judged on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.

The contest recognizes dining establishments that support the industry by putting pork on their menu. All restaurants, cafes and taverns that serve breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches can be nominated for the award.

River Rock Cafe is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The River Rock Cafe has a diverse menu, Bittle said. The cafe features 15 assorted Hereford burgers, an assortment of chicken sandwiches and a selection of salads.