Friday, March 14, 2008

Fairmont HDJ Review - Underdogs and More

Underdogs and More on Speedway Avenue in Fairmont is one of those places where the M.O. is simpy hot dogs and hot dogs only. You won't find many other offerings on the menu (save for fries, bottled drinks, and pepperoni rolls), let alone any other frilly bells and whistles. I wouldn't recommend getting a sit-down meal here on account of the extreme lack of seating. Although there is plenty of floor space, I didn't count seating for any more than ten people at the most. Those seats were quickly occupied during the lunch rush from the employees of the Novelis plant across the street.

A hot dog with "everything" here will net you chili, mustard, and onions. In keeping with the slaw by-laws of Marion County, slaw is available as an optional topping for a little extra. I didn't see anyone walking away with wax paper or foil wrapped dogs, only a stream of styrofoam coffins. A little disappointing, but obviously the proprietors know what their regular customers want, need, and accept.

The hot dogs themselves were terrific. I was immediately taken by how fresh and perfectly steamed the bun was. It was one of those buns that melts in your mouth with every bite while still managing to soak in just enough of the flavors of the weenie, chili, and slaw to add to the whole experience. The weiner was cooked to jucy perfection. However, I thought that there was a bit of overload in the onion department. Needless to say a supply of breath mints was in order for me for the rest of the day.

I was struck by how complex the chili was. While I can't say it was the greatest I have ever had, it was nonetheless very flavorful and hearty. The seasoning of the ground beef was very pronounced, giving it more of a beefy texture than normal. At the same time, it had just the right amount of sauce to keep the overall mixture from coming off as clumpy. I detected a heavy amount of paprika and chili powder, but not enough to overwhelm the whole concoction. I went with the medium version (other choices are mild and hot), and found it to be more than adequate when it came to buzzing my taste buds. It wasn't enough to make my upper lip bead up with sweat, but it sure did make me think about it. I'd chalk that up to the red pepper flakes in the mix.

The slaw was clearly of the homemade variety, but not all that flavorful. Although the mix of the dressing seemed well balanced, the cabbage was watery enough that it made the other ingredients taste bland. After pulling some of the slaw off with a plastic fork to sample on its own, I determined that the taste was almost completely gone from this particular batch. Then again, a ho-hum slaw is usually better than no slaw at all. Remember, this is Marion County after all.
For keeping it simple and sticking to the game plan to put out quality hot dogs, Underdogs and More warrants a four weenie rating. This HDJ is a credit to the hot dog culture movement.

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