Sunday, July 07, 2019

Clendenin HDJ Review - Frostbite Dairy Bar

Before the tragic 2015 flood, Clendenin was home to one of the truly great 5 Weenie Hot Dog Joints in West Virginia, the Clendenin Dairy Queen. Sadly, the flood waters took the DQ (and a couple of other good HDJs) and since then Northern Kanawha County had been without decent hot dogs. But lately, we've heard that another spot had opened up, just a few hundred yards from the old DQ spot, and -- it was rumored -- that it had the old DQ Chili recipe and was serving it to hordes of happy customers. It took us a while, but we finally made the trip to find out for ourselves if the rumors were true.

Frostbite is a grab and go place with no inside seating, but does offer several umbrella covered picnic tables for those who prefer not to eat in their cars and don't live close enough to go home with their hot (or cold) purchase. Per usual for this kind of establishment, there is a "order" window and a "pickup" window, and the service is fast and efficient. Friendly too.

The first test for any HDJ is always how they answer the question "what is everything?" As discussed and debated extensively on the WV Hot Dogs Facebook page recently, most West Virginians agree the only correct answer to this question is "chili/sauce, slaw, mustard and onions." Frostbite passed this first test, as the young order-taker confidently answered our query with confidence and precision. 

We didn't have to wait too long on our order, and took our bags to one of the picnic tables. We were thankful for the umbrella on this super-hot July day, but more thankful when we saw that our hot dogs were wrapped in wax paper - the 2nd big indicator of hot dog quality (and also another similarity with the old DQ). Unwrapping the paper, we found that the buns were soft and either had been steamed before wrapping, or had been naturally steamed inside the wax paper by the hot weenie and toppings. The Utilitarian Dogs were beautiful and covered with just about the right amount of toppings for our tastes. So far, Frostbite was holding up nicely to a comparison with the old Clendenin DQ.

Our first bites, however, did not bring back the memory of the old DQ. The chili does not have the same complexity that we remember. There was none of the tartness that we loved, and that which the slaw was perfectly paired. The chili might have been made from the same recipe, with the same ingredients, but it lacked the character of the DQ's. The slaw was just as we remembered it, but without the complex chili, the hot dog wasn't quite the same.

We're not saying that it wasn't good, it was very good indeed. It's just that when you're being compared with a legendary hot dog, it's difficult to measure up. The chili might very well have the same ingredients as the old DQ, but something is different. Maybe the chili needs to be cooked longer, or hotter, to bring out more of the flavor of the original. Frostbite is on the right track, but we think some tweaking is needed if it's going to assume the Queen's crown.

We're giving Frostbite a 4 Weenie rating and hope they continue to improve.

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