Victoria Station in Harlan is home to the 2021 Iowa’s Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin winning sandwich, announced last week by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).
Owned by Richard and Angela Buman, each hand-cut, 8-ounce loin is tenderized three times, then coated in a blend of dry seasonings and marinated for at least an hour. The meat is dipped in a buttermilk breading and fried to order.
Sandwiches are served with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. The Bumans recommend eating the tenderloin with their house-made garlic aioli and Texas toast, though the traditional mustard and burger bun are available.
The IPPA presented the Bumans with the best tenderloin award on Oct. 15 at the restaurant. Victoria Station received $500, a plaque and a large banner to display.
“We simply love great food and love entertaining, so this is a way we can do it and hopefully make a living at it,” said Richard Buman, who bought the restaurant with his wife 18 months ago.
Prior to purchasing the restaurant, the Bumans held various positions at Hy-Vee in Le Mars. Richard grew up in Harlan, and he and Angela were high schoolers when they had their first date at Victoria Station. They’re self-proclaimed “foodies” and had long talked about owning a small restaurant.
This year’s runner-up is a past contest winner. Larsen’s Pub in Elk Horn, which holds the 2007 title, again earned high ratings from a panel of judges and will receive $250 and a plaque from IPPA. Rounding out the top five finalists (in no order) are Old Road Cafe & Bar in Emerson; Z’s Eatery and Draught Haus in Indianola; and Stalker’s Pub in Miles. These restaurants will receive a top five plaque to display.
In the week after being named among this year’s five finalists, Victoria Station sold what would normally be nearly two months’ worth of tenderloins.
The Bumans plan to hire an extra daytime server as customers come from all over — one couple heading home to Atlanta detoured an hour and a half to try a tenderloin.
“We have called it the tenderloin tsunami,” said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA’s marketing and programs director, who noted that past winners have reported selling five to 10 times more tenderloins in the first month and double their normal number still a year later.
The tenderloin contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that offer a hand-breaded or battered pork tenderloin as a regular menu item. To win, businesses must be open year-round.
Victoria Station is located at 407 Victoria St. in Harlan. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant is closed Monday.