Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bridgeport HDJ Review - Hank's Deli

I was really excited when I first found out late last summer that Hank’s Deli would open a new location in Bridgeport. Though Bridgeport does have a few worthwhile HDJs, a true WVHD aficionado is rather limited in choices for quality. More often than not, one would need to travel across Route 50 to Clarksburg to get a better selection. But I digress.

Hank’s Deli occupies the former Long John Silver’s in what is now known as the Home Depot Plaza. Though the outward appearance would suggest this new abode is smaller than the original location at the Middletown Mall in Fairmont, the interior is surprisingly spacious and has been renovated to make the aesthetics more appealing. Upon entering, I was greeted by two huge menus on the wall touting a plethora of soups, salads, sandwiches, and such. But I quickly spied the subject of my quest: the Messy Dog.

The Messy Dog is the Hank’s Deli version of the WVHD. The menu states that it has both homemade slaw and chili, which in a past review were terrific. One thing that should be pointed out is that onions and mustard do NOT come standard on this particular dog (I can sense all of you shuddering right now). You do need to ask for them to be added to the dog, but fortunately there is no extra charge. I have visited more than once to make sure it wasn’t just a case of the cashier having an off-moment and forgetting to add them. Nonetheless, it is rather annoying to have to remind yourself to ask for something that should be second nature to ANY hot dog. Like the Fairmont location, the hot dogs in Bridgeport are on the pricey side.

One glaring difference between the dogs at the Bridgeport and Fairmont locations is the use of a standard hot dog bun. In the original review of the Fairmont location, Hank’s used an English hot dog bun. It was very tasty, but it still broke the taboo rule of using the cheapest components to make the best hot dog. Bridgeport uses a standard bun, lightly grilling the interior to give it just a hint of crispness while still retaining the fresh flavor. This process lent itself to allowing the sauce from the chili and slaw to permeate into the bun, but not enough to turn into a handful of mush.

The wiener was of a super-plump high grade. Very juicy and flavorful, and lightly grilled. The chili piqued my curiosity. If I could put it into terms that our southern fans might appreciate, the taste reminded me of the deliciousness experienced during my one and only trip to Romeo’s with Stanton many moons ago. The flavor was beefy and tasted as though it had been prepared with TLC. Nothing in the mix reminded me of anything typically found in the northern region that I cover (i.e. heavily spice laden). The texture had more of a familiar home style consistency. Rather than finely ground meat, the beef was a bit more of a rough ground. This made the chili seem somewhat “clumpy”, but the portion was generous so as not to allow any part of the wiener to be uncovered.

The slaw quickly became one of my favorites. The consistency was just right, and the dressing leaned more towards a tangy flavor without drowning out the remaining ingredients. It was uncommonly fresh (which was a welcome change), and chilled to perfection. I wish I could’ve taken some home with me right then and there, but I guess that’s the hook to get me to come back again. At any rate, I found myself thinking that the chili and slaw were more like a ying-yang as far as the balance goes. They really needed to have one another to make the hot dog work as well as it did.

One big bonus: rather than the usual fries you can get just about anywhere, Hank's give you the option to get the best homemade potato chips around. I could enjoy a whole basket of those by themselves. All that said, I would have to give Hank’s Deli four and-a-half weenies. Were it not for the fact that the mustard and onions had to be requested separately, I think it would score and easy five weenies.


Enos Straitt said...

Reading your blog makes me miss WV more and more. The food I used to get as a kid (WVHD, pepperoni rolls, Giovani sandwiches) are all but impossible to get where I live.

Thanx for keeping this blog going. I only wish I would have found it sooner.

Robert said...

Hank's is great. The fact that they are open for dinner makes the Bridgeport location a great place to go. And love those potato chips