On a nice Spring day, there's nothing like a good hot dog served fresh from a cart along a tree-lined street.
That's why I was psyched to find this new hot dog cart sitting on the corner of Capitol and Lee Streets, just outside of Davis Park. How could there be a better location to enjoy a hot dog? Before I allowed myself, though, to get too excited, I recalled past hot dogs I had found at downtown Charleston street vendors. Many people have tried, and almost all have failed, to deliver a good WVHD from the challenging conditions posed by a cart. Would Super Weenie be different?
I had a good feeling when I noticed that the menu had "Chili - Slaw- Onions - Mustard" segregated in a special place at the top. When I asked what "everything" was, I was confidently told the proper ingredients for a true West Virginia Hot Dog. I also was really, really impressed that while Super Weenie had ketchup on its list of possible toppings, it was at the very bottom of the list and in a very small font. Excellent.
My optimism increased when I read that the weenies were Nathan's Famous, and it swelled again when I was asked if I would like my bun steamed! Oh, boy, would I ever! But how is that even possible on a cart? Ingenuity, that's how (I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to find out for yourself how they do it.)
As if I could get any more optimistic, I nevertheless was when the lid came off of the chili container and the rich and complex aroma met my olfactory organ. And seeing the texture of the chili as it was spooned onto the hot dog also added to to my ever-heightening expectations; it looked simply perfect.
Alas, the slaw's appearance did not inspire further confidence, being a little too chunky, But when the finished hot dog was finally delivered into my waiting hands, the heft, softness and aroma combined into a multi-sensory delight.
Tasting the hot dog did not disappoint. All of the visuals translated to taste as I expected, although the chili could stand a bit more spice. Perhaps the most remarkable thing for a cart hot dog was that everything was the perfect temperature: Each ingredient was exactly right, the weenie and chili were hot and the slaw was cold. The only part of this hot dog that needs improvement is the slaw: The texture is far too coarse and the flavor is a bit bland. This should be an easy fix, and for a five-day old business, we can only expect things to improve moving forward. Perhaps by the end of summer, Super Weenie will be truly super.
For now, we're still going to award Super Weenie a very good Four Weenie rating. Better slaw will definitely bump it a half-point.
You will be able to find Super Weenie on the same corner on most nice days for the rest of the Summer and into the Fall, and you can follow them on Facebook here.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
On a nice Spring day, there's nothing like a good hot dog served fresh from a cart along a tree-lined street.
Monday, May 16, 2016
So we went to Not Frank's Pizza. Not "Frank's Pizza", "Not Frank's Pizza." And not for pizza, but for hot dogs.
If you found that sentence confusing, you can read about the way this restaurant got its unusual name here. And then come back here to find out about their hot dogs.
Now for the record, we did not go to Not Frank's original Montgomery location, but the new on that is located in the old Twin Hills Restaurant in Shrewsbury. To confuse matter more, the Twin Hills sign is still on the west side of the building, so perhaps this Not Frank's should be known as "Not Twin Hills," but that is a business decision they need to make. We're here to talk about hot dogs.
The bun was one of those Yankee New England Split Top Lobster Roll buns that have been invading West Virginia for some time now (and about which we are going to be having a conversation real soon because the WV Hot Dog Public needs educated - again). It was grilled and tasted OK, but as always added way too much bulk to the finished hot dog.
Overall, the hot dog was satisfying. Nothing to right home about, but certainly not disappointing. We'll award it a 3.5 Weenie rating. With better onions and bun it could be a 4.
Posted by Stanton at 10:55 AM
Monday, May 02, 2016
I've been trying to get to Big Joe's for a while, not for hot dogs but for their Pastrami on Rye; a sandwich I had heard about my whole life but have never tasted. As far as I know, Big Joe's is the only restaurant in Charleston - maybe in West Virginia - that serves this New York staple food, and furthermore, they make their own pastrami on the premises. I had to try it, and when I finally made it in I found that they also had hot dogs, so I had to try those too. I should have stopped with the pastrami.
So should Big Joe's. They should stop offering hot dogs. Never serve another one. Ever. Let me explain:
The first indication that this was not good to be a good hot dog experience was when I saw cheese as a standard topping. I of course, deleted the dairy and went ahead boldly, thinking that at least the rest of the standard ingredients were correct - chili, slaw, mustard and onions. But then...
My hot dogs arrived and I immediately recognized a few potential problems: First, the bun had been grilled to within and inch of its life, and was no longer able to hold the weenie and other toppings. When I picked up my first hot dog it fell apart on the way to my mouth, and the second one - still on my plate - fell over when the first one was moved spilling its toppings all over the plate. Easily the messiest two hot dogs I have ever eaten. And I will remind you, I have eaten a lot of hot dogs.
When the "chili" spilled out (and I use quotation marks to sarcastically point out that it was pseudo-chili), from the looks and taste of it, it was nothing more than slightly browned ground beef. Tasteless.
Then there is the "slaw" (yes, there are those sarcastic quotes again), that seemed to be the cabbage portion of sauerkraut with nothing else added to it. It was long, stringy threads of cabbage with hardly any flavor.
There were large hunks of red onions on top of the stringy slaw.
The mustard and weenie were fine.
Big Joe's gets 1 Weenie, and that might be generous.
Posted by Stanton at 2:36 PM
Monday, April 04, 2016
Friday, April 01, 2016
The WV Hot Dog Blog has gone on record numerous times about the way weenies are prepared. While we prefer grilled weenies, we are not too awfully concerned when hot dog joints use other methods to heat their meat. We've had excellent hot dogs whose weenies just came out of a hot bath, and even the dreaded roller dogs can't hold an otherwise good hot dog down. Generally speaking, we take a "when in Rome" attitude about how weenies are cooked.
|Chicken-Fried Hot Dog|
We were so impressed by the Chicken-fried Hot Dog at the Hot Dog factory that we made plans for a return trip. We're thinking of going back again next year on the same day, because April 1 seems like the perfect day to have a foolish-sounding hot dog like this.
Posted by Stanton at 12:01 AM
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill is one of the greatest culinary success stories ever in Charleston. Starting out with a smoker/grill along the sidewalk of one of Charleston's famous Five Corners where they developed a huge following, they eventually moved into an actual building on another of the corners. Then most recently moved across the street to yet another corner. But don't think that their largest claim to fame is dominating 3 out of 5 corners, or being the restaurant in town with the most slogans ("We be smokin'," "Home of Bay's Famous Ribs," "The best smelling corner in town"). No, D2B&AG has become the quintessential pulled-pork restaurant in town, and has been featured on a couple different nationwide TV shows to boot.
Having been to D2B&AG for pulled pork and other of their fantastic food, I was looking forward to checking out their hot dogs.
Although the lady behind the counter really had no idea of what "everything" meant ("I don't know what all they put on them back there," she said), I cut through the red tape and ordered mine with chili, slaw, mustard and onions. When they popped out of the kitchen, I was pleased to see they were tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, because I had planned on taking them for a short drive and eat the at home. I knew that the foil would keep them warm and give them a good steaming.
Upon arriving at home and unwrapping my lunch, I was a little dismayed to see the roughly chopped coleslaw that was piled on top of it. Now I should have known, since I had had their slaw with pulled pork, but then it was hidden under the bun. Here, exposed on top of the hot dog, it looked way too coarse. This, as it turned out, was the last complaint I would have about the hot dog.
The bun was very unusual because it was a standard hot dog bun, but it had been grilled; something usually reserved for New England Style buns. I'm not sure if I have ever - in over 10 years of hot dog reviewing - seen a standard bun grilled before. It was a great touch, providing that comfort-food toasted flavor and slight crunch without being overwhelming like those lobster buns.
Next was the split and grilled weenie. It was high-quality and expertly grilled. Covering the weenie was some delicious chili with just enough spice to make itself known. It paired well with the slaw.
This was a very good and satisfying hot dog, and if it weren't for the coarse slaw I would be tempted to award a strong 4.5 Weenie rating, but I have to deduct a half point, but still a strong 4 Weenie hot dog.
As good as it is, though, it's still my second favorite thing at Dem 2 Brothers. Next time I go back it will be for the pulled pork. Man cannot live by hot dogs alone; not even Weenie Wonks.
Posted by Stanton at 5:14 PM
Sunday, March 13, 2016
In the town of Eleanor along Roosevelt Boulevard sits The Baker's Table, a little bakery/eatery that
serves up lots of sweet goodies and down-home comfort food. I'm not sure how long it's been open, but it seems to have a pretty loyal following. Having heard good things, I decided to stop in and check out their confections, but that was before I found out that there were hot dogs on the menu. After seeing this, my plans changed.
Now if one is going to sell hot dogs in Eleanor, one must be aware of the competition, chiefly the Eleanor Dairy Queen. The DQ has an enormous fan base, hot dog wise, and it sits just a few hundred feet away from The Baker's Table. I surmised that in order for TBT to sell enough hot dogs in this location to make it worth ordering buns, they must have a pretty good dog. Surmised and hoped.
While I waited on my hot dogs I mused over the waitress' use of "sauce" instead of the more common Kanawha Valley term "chili." (Regular readers know that "sauce" is the preferred term for North Central WV and along the Oho River, but most of the rest of the state calls it "chili"). One of the possible explanations that came to mind was that perhaps the sauce was very liquidy, which sometimes explains why the term is used out of character, or that perhaps the owner is from Huntington and doesn't know any better.
When my dogs arrived, the first thing I saw was beautiful, fine grated and creamy coleslaw neatly applied and in a generous helping. I eagerly sampled a taste and was surprised that it was a bit bland. I could tell it was very fresh, as the cabbage flavor and aroma was pronounced, but little other flavor could be detected.
Digging deeper, the "sauce" mystery deepened because it was not at all thin and runny as I expected it might be, but as dry as it could be. The flavor was almost exactly like Taco Bell's taco meat, or what I make at home to go over a taco salad, a concoction with only three ingredients: ground beef, water, and a package of Old El Paso taco seasoning. This is not the first time I have encountered the taco-meat hot dog, but it is the first time in a place that called it "sauce."
The taco meat and chili weren't terrible together, though, so there might have been hope for this hot dog, if not for the bun. New England Style lobster roll buns that had been dry-toasted and not - as most "English Dogs" found in WVHDJs would have been - buttered and grilled. The crunchy bun was not at all satisfying and detracted over all from the hot dog.
We're going to give The Baker's Table a 2.5 Weenie rating. I'm not sure if it deserves 2.5, as I might have been unfairly influenced by the delicious frosted cookie that I grabbed at the register.
If you are in Eleanor with a hankering for a hot dog, my advice is to head over to the DQ, or better yet, jump across the bridge to Winfield, go a mile or so up old Rt 35 to Dairy Freeze.
Posted by Stanton at 6:23 PM