Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday; open until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays. Breakfast menu available from french toast ($1.50) to steak and eggs $3.50). Full carry-out service. Grill closes at 11.
Price Range: Main dishes at dinner from $3 to $9.95 for New York strip steak. Full sandwich menu available from all-beef frankfurter (95 cents) to a "Lord Mayor" of cheese, turkey and ham ($4.25). Daily specials also available.
Atmosphere: Clean, friendly neighborhood setting. Tables, booths and bar stools available.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Credit Cards: Visa
Special Facilities: No booster chairs; one small step up; easy off-street parking especially after 6:30 p.m. weekdays; two televisions; jukebox.
"A television, wow! Oh, no, two TVs."
These words of joy echoed forth from our 8-year-old as we walked into the Tenley Inn on a recent Saturday night for dinner. The children would have preferred to sit at the bar since it was so close to the television, but were satisfied when we were seated at a table with a good view. And the real treat of the evening came when the bartender turned both television sets to "The Muppets" at 7 p.m.
The booths were to small for the six of us, but would be fun for a smaller group as each booth has an individual jukebox. Any noise a group of children might make in a place like the Tenley Inn is lost with the televisions and the jukebox, so it is a wonderful quick stop for dinner.
The waitress immediately took our drink orders, and the beers came quickly as did the sodas for the children.
The appetizers are limited to soup of the day, juice or salad. We tried the homemade bean soup (90 cents), which had lots of beans, corn and meat in a rather watery tomato base. The seasoning was similar to a special of the day, which was homemade chili ($1.95). This was a large portion, but again watery and bean-filled. The onion slices were a nice touch, but more meat and less of a heavy hand on the chili powder would have helped.
The younger children shared a broiled half-chicken plate ($3.95). The waitress willingly accepted the shared order and further showed her approval by bringing each youngster his own roll and butter. There is no bread basket but, with the television and the music, not a complaint was heard. The chicken was a welcome relief from the many fried versions and was a large enough portion to satisfy amply a hungry 8-year-old. It comes with crispy fries and a vegetable.
Although lasagna and liver are available, I chose the rancher ($3.95). This is another welcome meal with its thinly sliced, lean roast beef. It is served open-faced smothered in brown gravy and would be even better with mashed potatoes instead of fries. Creamy cole slaw is a fine accompaniment. The side order of onion rings (90 cents) were the frozen variety. They arrived crisp but barely warm. The french fry portions are large so that onion rings are unnecessary.
The two sandwich orderers did not do so well. Our son chose the steak special ($3.50), a five-ounce portion with fried onions and fries. The friendliness of the waitress shone again as she gave him extra onions when she heard he liked them.
Unfortunately, the steak itself was tough and hard to manipulate. It was a cubed steak that had been overcooked and no amount of sauce was going to help it.
The Tenley special ($3.25) sounded like it was created for my husband's tastes with its corned beef, cole slaw and russian dressing. The corned beef was not the tender brisket but the tougher round which had been to thickly sliced and still had large portions of fat in evidence.
Trying one of the many other sandwiches might be the better decision with a variety of hamburgers, clubs and subs available, including the dairy special ($4), which is Nova Scotia Salmon with lettuce, tomato and cream cheese on a bagel. There are also cold salad platters from $2.75 and a variety of omelettes in the $3 range.
It was hard to leave without trying desserts. The New York-style cheesecake ($1.25 plain or with cherry topping for an additional 40 cents) was a fine-sized portion that was light and creamy. Apple pie (75 cents) was not homemade, but was served piping hot.
The bill of $42.10 for 6 people including two rounds of sodas and beers was a good buy. We also left a generous tip for a friendly waitress that truly proved herself when an elbow connected with a plate and sent cheesecake flying to the ground.
The Tenley Inn can best be described as a fine stop for an early dinner before going to one of the 3 movie theaters next door. Everyone enjoyed the combination of a big meal in a friendly restaurant with a bartender who recognized quality programming.