Friday, January 15, 2016

Charleston Area HDJ Review - One Stop Sub Express

I was in a hurry and had to stop for a quick lunch, so I thought I would drop in at the Sub Express inside the One Stop on Lee Street West. I was thinking turkey sub, but then I saw a sign advertising a hot dog special, so I figured I'd take a chance. Almost immediately after ordering, regrets started creeping into my brain.

First of all, I should have known better than to order a hot dog at a place where the toppings are completely undefined. Asking what "everything" meant was met with a blank stare, and a gesture toward the myriad of toppings available for all subs: Anything from lettuce to tomatoes to olives, to jalapenos and more are all considered fair game for these hot dogs. Thankfully among the cornucopia was chili, slaw, mustard and onions, so that's what I ordered.

The next regret came when I saw the weenies getting warmed up on a roller machine: Never a good sign.

The third regret was when I was asked if I wanted my bun steamed and when I said "yes" they were plopped into the microwave for a good nuking.

So by the time my hot dogs arrived at the register I had very low expectations that they were going to be good, I was just hoping for edible.

And I was surprised.

Despite the problematic beginning, these hot dogs were actually very good. The slaw was sweet, creamy and fresh. The chili was flavorful, if not spicy, and the roller-dog actually tasted more like a grilled weenie. The microwaved bun - usually a sure-fire way to make one tough and chewy - survived its torture and after being double wrapped in wax paper and aluminum foil, actually was soft and delightful. A completely surprising hot dog which earns a solid Four Weenie score.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Charleston Area HDJ Review - Trivillian's Pharmacy & Soda Fountain

It is almost impossible to believe, but in just a few days this blog will be 10 years old, and one of the first hot dog joints we reviewed way back when was Trivillian's Pharmacy (you can read that review here). Trivillian's has been through a lot since then and has seen a lot of changes (you can read more about that here), but we're happy to report that the soda fountain as largely stayed the same through all of the tumult that the pharmacy experienced. Now that the dust has settled we decided to make another visit to see if the hot dogs were still as good as before.

If you read the 2006 review, then really there's not much else to know about the physical attributes of the business. The deer in the parking lot that used to be paisley are now painted in sort of a cow print black and white motif, and the soda fountain now takes up a little more space inside than it did before. Other than that, the place is pretty much the same as it was ten years ago, which is a good thing for a place that is trying to preserve a bit of true Americana like an old-timey soda fountain. Trivillian's is doing a stellar job of this, and the timeless look of the interior from the red Naugahyde bar stools and the chrome fixtures to the black and white checkerboard floor still look great. The hot dogs, however, are different.

The 2006 Trivillian's hot dog had slaw that was nearly perfect in texture and was quite sweet. This slaw is much drier and has a milder flavor. The chili was still just a touch spicy, but where the 2006 version had a pronounced chili powder flavor, the 2016 chili's spice seemed a bit more exotic - sort of Asian flavored. Not bad, just different. The chili and slaw were good together, and the mild onions did not detract from the synergy.

The one thing that was exactly the same was the heavenly soft buns, thanks to the shvitz that each bun enjoys in the vintage steamer that sits prominently alongside the grill. Every hot dog bun should get such treatment.

In 2006 we gave Trivillian's a 4 Weenie rating, and even though the 2016 hot dog is different, we're going to hold that score.

Lastly, we don't give bonus points for non-hot dog criteria, but if we did we would certainly give them to Trivillian's for including on the back page of their menu a printout of our review from our now-defunct website Good on you, Trivillian's folks!