Thursday, February 04, 2010

South Charleston HDJ - Betty Lou's Diner

"Have you heard the news ?
It's all over town
If you ain't heard it boys

You better sit down

"I got the story here
It's hot off the press
Brace yourself now
And take a deep breath
Grab a hold of something
Hold on tight Betty Lou's gettin' out tonight!"

Ever since hearing and reading about this new restaurant opening a few weeks ago, I have been humming this Bob Seger song to myself. Perhaps that's what has fueled my eagerness to check it out, or perhaps it was because the namesake "Betty Lou" claims to have "legendary" hot dogs, and claims to have sold 1.5 million of them from her former location in Cedar Grove. Whatever it was, I was indeed eager to go and finally today I had the opportunity.

The new diner is at the top of the hill on Central Avenue in South Charleston, and occupies a building where another HDJ dwelt several years ago. You can read an early review of that HDJ here if you are at all interested.

The building has been completely renovated and now looks every bit like a real WVHDJ. From the obligatory checkered floor to the photos of pop culture celebs from the 50's to the changeable letter Coca Cola menu board, this looks like the real deal. Further encouragement was found on the menu in the list of standard hot dogs toppings: Chili, slaw, mustard and onions. If I had to look further for encouragement, it could be found in the limited menu that had hot dogs, pinto beans and little else. Hot dogs and pinto beans? How much more West Virginian can you get?

When my hot dogs arrived I felt even more encouraged: The slaw looked almost perfect in texture: finely chopped and not a bit runny. I couldn't wait to taste it, so I took a bite from the top side but the taste didn't seem to match the appearance. Thinking I had just missed and perhaps bitten into air, I took another and large bite: Still no taste. OK, there was a taste, but it was so slight as to not be there at all.

OK, well I have had hot dogs before with lifeless slaw and they somehow still worked, so I took a real bite from the business end of the dog. Better, but still a little weak. I dug out some chili and found it to be fairly typical Upper Kanawha Valley (the region from whence Betty Lou is said to hail) chili with a slight chili powder twinge but not much else.

And oh yeah, the weenie was waterlogged. So much so that the liquid soaked throught he bottom of the bun of the second hot dog before its turn to be eaten came around, nearly resulting in a catastrophic bun failure incident.

Now I never had a single one of the 1.5 million hot dogs that Betty Lou claims to have sold prior to today, nor do I know of anyone who ate one of them. But if what I experienced today is any indication of her efforts heretofore, it is difficult to understand how that kind of volume could have been achieved. Perhaps Betty Lou ain't what she used to be, or maybe she entrusted the keys to her kingdom to the wrong weenie chef. Whatever the explanation, Betty Lou's Diner gets a so-so 3 Weenie rating on this day.


John said...

Blah gets three wienies! Who knew?

Stanton said...

According to the official weenie scoring system: "Three Weenies are awarded to those hot dogs that show promise but just miss the mark."

I think that's pretty accurate as far as Betty Lou's goes. Promise was shown by the texture of the slaw and by the fact that they know what belongs on an "everything" dog.

Perhaps it could haven been a 2.5, but it wasn't at all objectionable. Maybe my narrative wasn't as clear as it should have been.

Craig and Nancy said...

Best hot dogs and fried bologna in town! Great homemade chili and Cole slaw really make this the best! Be sure to ask for Betty Lou's homemade hot sauce too!