Tuesday, May 01, 2007

St. Albans HDJ Review - OSKEES Family Restaurant

OSKEES Family Restaurant is a recent addition to the Kanawha Valley. Sitting alongside MacCorkle Avenue in the very same space where Mayberry's began, this little restaurant claims to have "comfort food with a twist." The menu has some interesting looking sandwiches and entrees, but obviously I wasn't after any of those. I walked in and picked up a menu and my eyes quickly found not only a hot dog, but a whole hot dog section! They have a regular dog, a foot long, an English style and a big 'ol hot dog with kraut and other strange toppings. The section heading brags that OSKEES has home made chili and slaw. This is a serious HDJ!

I settled for the regular dog which has chili, slaw, mustard, onions and ketchup. I had a strong urge to lecture my waitress on the inappropriateness of the red stuff, but I held my tongue. Instead I just ordered my dogs without it. Since it was dinnertime I went all out and got two dogs and an order of onion rings.

While I waited on my order I had a chance to look around and see how the place was decorated. In its Mayberry days it was all decked out in a 50's motif and had a television in the corner that played Andy Griffith Show DVDs non-stop. The TV is gone and a boombox now sits on the TV wall mounting bracket. Miscellaneous stuff is stuck to the walls and one entire wall seems to be dedicated to grade school writing papers. I tried to discern from the decor where the name "OSKEES" came from, but apart from a set of old snow skis on the wall I saw nothing that could explain it.

It seems that the name "OSKEES" is always printed in caps, so it could be "O'Skee's" or an acronym formed by the first initial of the names of the owners. It's really hard to tell.

While I was pondering this, my hot dogs arrived and they flanked the most gorgeous order of onion rings you can imagine. The tasted as good as they looked. But that' not why I came, was it?

The first thing I noticed was the deep brown color of the chili. This is a trademark of a cook that is serious about hot dogs, and with my first bite I knew that these were serious hot dogs. The chili was utterly delicious. I have been trying to come up with words to describe the flavor, but I simply can't describe it. It is rich, meaty, complex but only a tiny bit spicy. The flavor is so good that I would not be surprised to find out they had ground up a New York strip for the meat.

The slaw, while a little more coarsely chopped than I typically like, was creamy and flavorful. It was just slightly sweet and worked perfectly, I mean perfectly, with the chili. This is a hot dog put together by a hot dog lover that knows how to cook! Add a nicely steamed bun to the mix and you have a really good hot dog. But...

I have often written that we West Virginians don't care as much about the weenie as our hot dog colleagues in other parts of the country. I've even said that great chili and slaw can't be ruined by a bad weenie. Well, the weenie keeps this hot dog from a Five-Weenie rating from me. It was a small caliber frank, waterlogged from being kept in a pot of water no doubt. Perhaps because it was late in the day, but the weenie was yucky. No chili and slaw could completely overcome it, but OSKEES chili and slaw comes close. I'm going to give it a 4 1/2 Weenie rank in spite of the substandard wiener.


Chris James said...

In Nicholas County, they often eat WVHDs with no weenie...just "chili," slaw, onions, and mustard (ok, and sometimes ketchup).

Maybe they should open a franchise in Tioga :)

Jackie Lantern said...

Dear Stanton-

I've been a dedicated and loyal Mayberrys fan since the beginning. Will it be considered cheating if I visit this new place and try the dogs?


Torn Between Two HDJs

Alright fine, it's me Jackie. I guess your blog doesn't allow anonymous comments!!!

Stanton said...

It's OK, Jackie. Your secret's safe with us.