Saturday, January 13, 2007

Huntington Area Hot Dog Joints - Griffith & Feil Pharmacy

Kenova, for the geographically challenged among us, is the furthest west one can go in the state of West Virginia without getting wet. The name of the town comes from Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia to reflect its location near the point where these three states intersect (although it seems to me that it would be more properly called "Kenovir") .

Located in the heart of this little community is Griffith and Feil Pharmacy and its magnificent soda fountain. From its beautiful wood floors to its amazing tin ceiling to its neon "pharmacy" sign that glares colorfully off of both, this is one of the most aesthetically pleasing little restaurants around. Its charm lies in its nostalgic decor, which is made up of some authentically old elements and some retro style new stuff. The old wooden booths and soda fountain look to be 100 years old; the jukebox is decidedly newer. A gleaming row of chrome swivel barstools stand guard before the oak and brass soda fountain bar. Behind the bar hangs an enormous clock with the Griffith & Heil name emblazened around the rim of the face. The whole place is clean, shiny and a wonder to behold.

My visit was made even better by the presence of my gracious host, The Film Geek. He's a regular at G&H and had recommended the place to me a while back. When I wrote him and told him I was planning a visit he good enough to meet me there. And then he paid for my lunch, which made it even better.

But would the hot dogs be able to measure up to the quality of its surroundings and my dining companion?

The first piece of good news came when I asked what "everything" meant. "Sauce, slaw, mustard and onions" was the reply. Slaw is standard!? In a Huntington area HDJ? I was impressed.

I was more impressed when the hot dogs were delivered to the table and I saw their breathtaking beauty. I am so glad I was carrying a better camera than usual because I was able to capture the picturesque presentation (note to self: Avoid alliteration. Always.)

OK, so the place looks great, the hot dogs look great. But how do they taste?

The slaw is great in quality and quantity. It's creamy, finely chopped and just about perfect. The sauce is sweet, too. It had a meaty texture but lacked the complex flavor that comes from extended cooking over high heat. I thought the sauce would make a nice spaghetti topping, or throw in some beans and you would have a nice bowl of chili. It is very good but not great. The onions, while not chopped quite as finely as I like, were fresh cut and must've been some species of sweet onion. The bun was soft and delicious. I'm going to give it a four-and-a-half weenie rating.

It is obvious that Griffith & Feil care about quality, and that quality is defintely present in their fine hot dogs. Even without the gorgeous setting this would be a great HDJ, but add the ambience back in and you have an essential, must-visit HDJ.

To get there, take the Kenova exit (Exit 1) of I64. Turn right off the exit and then left at the first stoplight past the railroad underpass and Griffith & Feil will be on your right. 1405 Chestnut Street.

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