T&L Hot Dogs tend to feature a 50's theme in their various locations, and this one was no different. A split level seating area gave a view of the promotional flats featuring the likes of Little Richard, Ray Charles, Bobby Darrin, Sam Cooke. Life-size standees of Elvis and JFK stood watch over the black and white checkered floor tile and retro jukebox. A bust of Mr. Presley rested on top of the soda machine, keeping an eye on the door. Original magazine covers from back in the day of Life and Sport Illustrated were hung in eye-catching frames above each table and booth.
Recently, this particular location reopened its doors as Mountaineer Brunch. I had eaten in this place several times while it was still under T&L ownership, and I noted that not one item had been moved from its original place. About the only thing that had notably changed was the menu, which had been expanded to include a breakfast menu and an expanded lunch/dinner menu. Hot dogs choices had been expanded to include cheese/jalapenos and Chicago-style variations, among others. Thankfully, Mountaineer Brunch also lists West Virginia Hot Dogs for $1.50 each. A steep price, but not the worst ever seen. For those not familiar with the succulent treat, the menu board breaks down the components of each item. WVHDs are listed as "slaw, mustard, chili, and raw onions".
Mountaineer Brunch seems to have adopted at least a portion of the T&L chili recipe, but somehow loses some of the familiar T&L taste throughout the mix. On my particular order for this review, I noted a flavor similar to taco mix seasoning. It seemed to have some kind of filler in it as well, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. On the plus side, it had a good consistency. The slaw was creamy, with just a bit too much vinegar aftertaste. It didn't really work as well with the chili as it should, but it wasn't horrible.
I don't usually comment on fries anywhere, but Mountaineer Brunch makes some of the best fresh-cut fries around. Unlike T&L, these fries don't have that heavy, greasy taste. They were crispy on the outside, and went very well in the tub of bleu cheese dip I added to my order.
One thing I have to give Mountaineer Brunch a "needs improvement" mark for is the service. Not that it was bad, mind you. In fact, the workers are quite friendly and polite. The problem is that there is only ONE person ever working there during the lunch rush. On this visit, I placed my order, had a seat, and waited nearly twenty minutes as the clerk took orders while people were lined up at back to the door. Not his fault, but a bit of poor planning on someones part.
It's probably not fair to compare the present Mountaineer Brunch to the former residents of T&L Hot Dogs. Nonetheless, Mountaineer Brunch neither succeeds or fails in the hot dog arena. The expanded menu has made hot dogs less of a priority, but they are still good enough. Three weenies.