Friday, May 18, 2007

Putnam County Hot Dog Joint: Carmen's Diner.

No one could argue with the suggestion that there ain't much in Scary, a little town about half way between St. Albans and Scott Depot on Teays Valley Road. One thing the place does have going for it, however, is a little mom 'n pop restaurant called Carmen's Diner. I was recently in those parts for business, so I decided to sneak away from work and check 'em out.

Carmen's has all of the grub that one would expect from a greasy spoon in Appalachia: burgers, fries, onion rings, spaghetti & meatballs, fried bologna, bbq sandwiches, and hot dogs. Well, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out what I wanted.

After I ordered my hot dog, I noticed that the fridge contained a box from Cavalier Meats, which got brownie points with this Huntingtonian. The weenie was indeed fresh and tasty, as can be expected from all of SS Logan's meat products.

The bun was nice 'n gooey. No problem there.

The sauce was some of the finest that has ever been served in West Virginia by a place that didn't have the name "Sam's" in the title. It contained lots of high-quality ground beef and was seasoned with just the right touch of chili powder and salt. While I like mine a little spicier, this was still a top-notch product that could win awards and make someone a lot of money if properly marketed.

The place was as charming as any other hot dog joint that I have visited, including M & M and Austin's. The gentleman (I assume it was Carmen) was about the nicest guy that I've met in Greater Charleston and, if I could have, I woulda stuck around for another half-hour to chew the fat about life, the universe, and everything.

So far, you must be thinking "wow, this sounds like a sure-fire 5 weenie joint." Well, I've left out one critical component of a WV hot dog: the slaw. I can say, without fear of hyperbole or BS, that Carmen's had the worst cole slaw that I have ever eaten. It had the flavor of lightly salted cabbage that had been soaked in water overnight and aroma of a bachelor's freezer. The smell---scratch that---the stench of the slaw managed to completely overpower everything about the dawg that was great. With slaw that bad, I have to give the place 3 weenies, which is a damn shame considering that even mediocre slaw would have put this joint at the very top of Putnam County hot-dogdom.

To the management: you've done so much to make a great hot dog joint, don't poison the well with rancid slaw.


Stanton said...

Sounds like a candidate for "second chance month" in June. I hope they get the memo.

Chris James said...

Sho 'nuff.

But I might get one of those mouth-watering fried bologna sandwiches as a backup in case that they didn't.