Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I had been reminded that I was far behind on conducting a review for the blog, so I was eager to get on the road for an impromptu business trip to Flatwoods. I had recently heard that the Cowger family had opened a new shop just off exit 67 of I-79. It stands to reason the convenient location will serve this franchise well in the future. Ironically, the restaurant is located in what was briefly a Sam's Hot Dog Stand.
The interior is small, with enough seating for about 16 or 17 people. The outside features a covered patio area with a walk-up window. Custard Stand has a lot of variety on their menu, including several sandwiches, funnel cakes, ice cream treats, broccoli n' cheese poppers (!), chicken, fish, and something I would never expect to find at a hot dog joint...Buzz buttered steak. Very interesting. They also have prepackaged containers of their famous chili available for
purchase. You can get small, one-pound containers, or industrial sized five-pounders. This was also one of the few places that offers a chili dog...without the wiener.
Good service here. I got the eye contact, thank yous, quick prep and delivery of my meal, etc. As I've said time and time again, good service is key to making your HDJ worth coming back to.
When I got my order back to my car, I was pleased as punch to
see that they didn't just wrap it up and toss it in a bag, like I've suffered with before. They carefully balanced the toppings around the weenie, placed it in a paper boat, and delicately wrapped it in wax paper (bonus points) so as not to crush it. When I unwrapped this little hand-held treasure trove, there was a waft of the freshly steamed bun that immediately let me know I was in for a treat.
Indeed, in the first bite I was impressed by how fresh and perfectly steamed the bun was. I took a look at the slaw and found that it was shredded extra fine. Fortunately, it was not doused in too much dressing so as to make the bun soggy. The slaw didn't suffer from an overdose of sweet or sour. It had the "just right" balance that made the perfect compliment to the dog.
I've had Custard Stand chili before, having picked some up at a local grocery store. My take on it is that is truly a southern West Virginia formula, favoring a good simmered beef flavor versus diverse spices, which are more typical of the
northern formulas. There was a nice texture to the beef and just the right amount of sauce mixed in. Like the slaw, it doesn't go overboard in the liquid department, but emphasizes a nice, flowing consistency throughout the whole mixture. I found the whole concoction to be both savory and satisfying.
If I were forced (and I would have to be forced) to point out any flaw, it would only be that it was a little heavy on the mustard for my taste. Still, this was easy to overlook as it melded nicely with the chili. The onions were diced a little coarse as well, but again they only served to compliment the whole package.
I give Custard Stand five weenies. It seems as though the Cowger's have the art of the hot dog down to a science. The chili they serve has captured the essence of what homemade should taste like. In the future, a visit to the original Custard Stand in Webster Springs will be in order.