Doug Tastes Pork Brains at the Hilltop Inn in Evansville, Indiana
Last week, I was on a trip picking up my kids from my in-laws in Alabama. They spent part of their summer there and were ready to come home. I decided to stop in on some other Townsquare Media stations that have some new toys that we'll be getting soon. I went to Evansville, Ind., where I had a terrific tour guide, named Ben Davis. I won't give you the play-by-play of my radio tour, but he asked around lunch time, where I wanted to go. I thought a nice tasty chicken sandwich sounded good, but I asked a question, I often do when traveling. "This is my first time in Evansville, what restaurant serves something specific to this region and is found no place else?" Instantly, Ben said, "We're going to the Hilltop to have brains."
I thought this was some sort of inside joke, or maybe it was some sort of special name for some savory dish. This was not the case, it was really "brains". The Hilltop Inn in Evansville has been around since 1839, and they have had quite the history. At some point, they decided to serve a Jumbo Brain Sandwich. They used to use cow for this until the Mad Cow breakout and have switched over to pork brains.
I don't think there was any way I was going to eat this on my vacation, so I made the safe play and ordered the Rib "I" sandwich off the Hilltop's menu. But I was intrigued to taste the "brain" since Ben said he was ordering it. It looked much like a pork tenderloin to me when it was presented. Ben cut into it and gave myself and Mike Hutchens a sliver of it. I have to say that was plenty for me.
I tasted it plain first, and it tasted pretty mushy to me, but as this was a German heritage food, everything is better with mustard. So I got a hold of some dark mustard and it seemed to take on a whole new flavor. Three bites is all there was to my tasting. But I can now say I've had brains, and recommend it with mustard.
I later learned that Hilltop was named the 2009 Manliest Restaurant In America by Asylum Magazine for this dish. I can't say I've ever seen this on any menu anywhere. I did enjoy the food that I had and highly recommend it since their menu has some pretty good variety. If you do dare to go bold with the "Brain Sandwich" good luck!
Alton Brown from the Food Network visited there too, and here was his take.
It did get me thinking: what is the strangest thing you have ate? Let me know what it is and where you can get it.