Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Three years ago, before the Weenie Rating System had even been invented, I reviewed Whitey's Sandwich Shop in North Charleston. I reprint the review here in its entirety:
"Whitey's is an unassuming little place that is easy to miss even if you know where you are going. The building is plain and the only sign identifying it as a restaurant is a carved in wood and hangs inside the plate glass window. The neon "OPEN" sign is the only other clue. But the search is worth it, because at the end you will find some of the very best hot dogs Charleston has to offer.
"What makes Whitey's dogs so good? I really can't put my finger on it. Every part of the dog is good and the sauce is about the meatiest in town, but it's pretty mild. The slaw is awesome and the weenies are very good. Put it all together with rock-steady dependability (I've never had a bad hot dog from Whitey's) and you get a great, great WVHD.
"The only negative for me about Whitey's is that it is a proud supporter of smoker's rights and has a warning sign on the front window that lets you know that you will surely die of second-hand smoke if you enter. As much as I hate smoke filled rooms, it is worth it to get to the dogs. "
But now, since the Kanawha County smoking ban is in effect, I can now strike the last paragraph. Pretty much everything else remains true, except maybe I understated just how good these hot dogs are.
This trip to Whitey's allowed me the luxury of ordering in. Since I wasn't holding my breath to protect against second-hand cancer, I had an opportunity to watch the hot dogs being made.
What I saw was very interesting: First, they steam the buns with one of those old Sunbeam style electric steamers that not only steam what's inside but it also sends a beautiful, rolling cloud of steam into the air when the lever is pressed. The hot dogs are unbelievably soft as a result.
The other interesting thing that I have never seen anywhere else is that the weenies were kept warming in the same pot with the chili! Amazing! Why doesn't everybody do this? It keeps the weenies from drying out, yet doesn't allow them to get waterlogged, and it has to impart some extra flavor to both the weenie and the chili, wouldn't you think? Brilliant!
But what needs stated again with further emphasis is just how freakin' awesome this slaw is! This might be the One True Slaw. I'm serious. It's that good. Perfect texture (smooth, cool and creamy), perfect taste (perfect mixture of sweet & sour). The problem is that it is so good that the chili suffers a little from comparison. It's meaty and flavorful, but it can't stand up to the challenge that the slaw presents. I found myself wishing for some more spiciness to balance it all out.
But that is a mild criticism: This is an awesome hot dog and deserves a Five Weenie score.