Ever since I was a wee tyke I have loved frozen root beer. After the last A&W in Charleston closed in the early 80's I went for years without the frosty mug goodness until a few imitation A&W locations opened throughout the Kanawha Valley in the late 90s. The root beer they served wasn't quite the same but at least it had the icy sludge floating in top that I remembered from my youth. There was no other root beer place around that offered this frozen goodness. In an attempt to slake my thirst for the frozen concoction I even made a trip to Huntington's Frostop Root Beer because I remembered seeing the giant mug on top of the restaurant and its representation of a head of frozen root beer, but I found out that it was only a cruel joke: Frostop has no frost on top. Nor does Stewarts. Nor does Farley's.
So when I received an email recently from a hot dog enthusiast from Parkersburg about the hot dogs at Tim's Old Fashion Root Beer I was thrilled when he mentioned that Tim's root beer was "icy". I hoped that meant that it was full of the wonderful icy sludge I had craved for so long. But enough about root beer, for now; we're here for hot dogs, right?
With some help from Google, I found Tim's easily enough. It's kind of off the beaten path, but that didn't seem to matter to the hordes of people who were there. The place is big enough to accommodate said hordes with room to spare (a large banquet room in the back could presumably be employed to accommodate an even larger horde). The place is covered with root beer signs from every imaginable brand from the past and several large barrels are filled with root beer flavored candy and other such treats. The place is nice and clean and the staff is friendly and efficient. The menu is far more diverse than I expected with several nice looking sandwich offerings as well as other more traditional family restaurant style dinners.
Being that Parkersburg is a border town, when I asked "what is 'everything?'" I got a vague answer in the form of a list of available toppings. Fortunately slaw and sauce were the first two toppings our of my server's mouth, so I stopped her there and added onions and mustard and asked for two. And a root beer, of course.
Let me begin with the end and tell you right off that Tim's hot dogs earn a solid 4.5 Weenie score. They are very good, nearly excellent. But the reason I wanted to start with the score is because I can't really understand why they are so good: The sauce is only good, not great. The slaw is not particularly outstanding. The weenie was odd tasting and waterlogged soft (almost like a vienna sausage in both taste and texture) and the onions were so mild that if they hadn't been on top I wouldn't have know they were there at all. The bun was nicely steamed and soft (some might say too soft, but not me).
But in spite of all of the mediocrity of the individual parts, the whole was great. Tim's has redefined the word "synergy ": This hot dog is far superior to the sum of its parts.
Oh yeah, then you get to wash it down with some really good root beer with a frozen icy head, just as I hoped I would find. And lots of it: Tim's does not let your mug run dry. I drank so much root beer that I sloshed as I walked to the counter to pay.
My only regret is that Tim's is 75 miles from Charleston and with $4 a gallon gas, a good root beer and a hot dog will set me back a good $25. It is almost worth it.