Saturday, September 15, 2007

Clarksburg HDJ Review - Tubby's Cafe

Once in a great while you're fortunate enough to discover a unique place totally by accident that, much like a rare artifact, becomes a gem that you enjoy so much you have to share it with others. Enter Tubby's Cafe in Clarksburg.

I was driving through the Summit Park section of Clarksburg just below old Bridgeport Hill Road when I saw a small sign for Tubby's mounted on a street sign at an intersection. Curious, I hung a left where I normally turn right. A hundred feet later, I discovered an amazingly good restaurant in a hard-to-find section of town. Tubby's is built on to the back of an inviting little private residence on Factory Street. Though the parking is tight, it's certainly worth getting to.

Once inside, I was immediately taken by the Harley- Davidson motif that adorns nearly every nook and cranny of the restaurant, save for a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. standee, a replica hood from the #3 car of Dale Sr., and a drag racing "Christmas Tree". The entire place is done in H-D black and orange, and highlighted with diamond plate trim. The counter area is adorned in the diamond plating, from the top of the counter down to the foot rests. My co-workers who ventured along on this particular visit got a kick out of the blinking yellow "caution" light that was activated when one went to the restroom and locked the door. I also noted a handle grip/brake handle assembly on the beer taps. My friends commented on how shiny and clean this establishment was. Attention to detail was certainly at the forefront of the proprietor's mind. This is one of those places that would put a grin on even the most grumpy curmudgeon on a dreary day. This wasn't a bar by any means...this is a restaurant through and through. I spoke with the owner, who noted that while the location was a bit of a hindrance he hoped to move to a better location sometime in the future.

Tubby's has an awesome menu that offers daily specials, Italian pasta fare, huge salads, hoagies (which all in attendance agreed were some of the best ever to be had), sandwiches, burgers, authentic brick oven pizzas (baked in the wood-fired brick oven that burns all day and night, regardless of the temperature outside), and of course hot dogs. The dogs are listed on the menu as follows: "Served hot off the grill in a steamed bun topped with Tubby's memorable chili, mustard, and onions...$1.25".

Memorable my foot! What an understatement.

This chili might darn well represent a high point for preparation and ingredients in this region. I think one of my co-workers said it best when he noted that it was "just a hair spicy". That may indeed be the best description for it. The chili had a perfect coloring and aroma, and a taste that epitomized 'balance' as the meaty flavor and spiciness worked together rather than overrun one another. It wasn't too complex, but rather complimented the overall hot dog. There was an abundance of chopped onions to give some extra zing to each bite, but not upset the overall presentation. In case there wasn't enough zest for you, take heart that you have your choice of no less than seven different bottled hot sauces, plus red pepper flakes and chili powder available at the counter.

Another plus was that every component of the hot dog is prepped on order (as is everything on the menu). The wieners are grilled on order, versus boiled in a batch and put on standby. I'm always a fan of grilled wieners when they're available; it seems they add some intangible element that you can't get from just boiling. The buns were steamed right as the wieners were being prepared, making for a superior, freshly steamed taste. I'd suspect that if you wanted the buns steamed more (or less), you could get it as you like it upon request.

The service here can't be beat. The owners are front and center doing the food prep, and they're always up for a conversation on just about anything. I found them very personable, and genuine...a quality that anyone can appreciate.

There was one -and only one- drawback to the whole visit: no slaw. I was informed that at one point it was an option, but later taken off the menu since there weren't enough requests for it. That's a shame, as I'm sure it had the potential to be pretty good. I think a good slaw would put these hot dogs over the top. Based on that, I have to score 4.5 weenies for Tubby's. If a decent slaw is ever offered again, I believe it'll score an easy five weenies.

1 comment:

MountainLaurel said...

Isn't slaw a Cincinnati thing rather than WV? In my book, a WV hotdog has sauce and onions. Maybe mustard and ketchup, but not slaw.