Sunday, June 04, 2023

Charleston HDJ Review - Dancing Dog Ice Cream

Dancing Dog Ice Cream Cafe is located at 201 Washington Street West, in the up-and-thriving, hip “Elk City District” near the mural on Charly Jupiter Way, a roadway named for the renowned local artist.

Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3p.m. Monday through Saturday. 

Ice cream is served all day.

In fact, Dancing Dog deems itself, “The Sweetest Place in Town.”

While the emphasis is on dairy delights, including cones, shakes and smoothies, they sure put out a quality Dog!

It may even put you to dancin.’

Hot dogs are listed on the menu with available toppings chili sauce, “our own,” slaw, onion and relish. A mustard bottle is available beside the counter for a do-it-yourself squirt. They also come with a grilled bun. The weenie is a Nathan’s all beef. 

The components of this delicious hot dog are neatly applied and in near perfect proportion. The chili sauce is neither too spicy nor too mild, a pleasing flavor and texture. It blends well with the slaw, which wasn’t dry nor runny - perfect consistency.

4.5 Weenies

For the soft drink lovers, Coke products are served in cans.

Having savored two hot dogs, I was already looking forward to my next visit - or ordering a third. But I showed some restraint. I’ll be back, soon.

I highly recommend this tasty treat. Save room for dessert, because there’s plenty of options. 

- Wimpy

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Barboursville HDJ Review - Dog Haus Biergarten

Editor's note: This is Wimpy's second review this week. Not bad for a beginning Weenie Wonk! Keep it up, Wimpy!

Opening in December 2021, Dog Haus brought its 50th location, and its first one in West Virginia, to Barboursville in Cabell County.

They currently have restaurants in 10 states, primarily in Texas.

They’ve had success too, as Entrepreneur Magazine chose Dog Haus No. 2 on its Top Food Franchises: Hot Dogs list for 2021, up from No. 4 in 2020.

With a variety of other foods, one might be tempted to order chicken sandwiches or burgers, but the company calls itself a Dog Haus, right?

And perhaps in an effort to ingratiate itself to its new fan base and customers, they immediately put a “Almost Heaven” hot dog on the menu, with chili, slaw, mustard and onions when coming to West Virginia.

Someone did their homework.

Dog Haus’ bun is unique for hot dogs found in our state.

For starters, it’s three Kings Hawaiian Rolls that have not yet been pulled apart. So it makes a big hot dog bun. It’s toasted only along the top, remaining soft and fresh otherwise. Still, it merits a slight point deduction for a non-steamed bun.

Grab a lot of napkins, because they don’t skimp on the amount of toppings.

The chili/sauce is a slight bit spicy but not at all overpowering while the slaw is creamy and finely shredded.

They pair together nicely.

The yellow mustard is served on top of the slaw, along with finely shredded onions. This Weenie Wonk prefers mustard applied first, but it still works.

The star of Dog Haus’ Almost Heaven is the weenie, dense and packed with flavor. And pretty good size, filling the remarkable bun size appropriately.

Proud of the quality of its product, Dog Haus displays a framed motto on its wall:

“Our Haus dogs are made from beef that is raised without hormones and antibiotics. Our proprietary recipe includes a unique spice blend of brown sugar, bay leaves, garlic, salt, and black pepper.”

One can certainly discern Dog Haus’ difference in the quality of the weenie. It’s stellar.

The Almost Heaven Dogs earns 4 Weenies

For those who enjoy a “cold one” with their hot dogs, there’s plenty of options at this location, a Biergarten serving craft beers and cocktails. There’s ample indoor seating and an inviting outdoor patio as well.

Kids meals are offered, so bring the little ones if you wish. There’s also soft serve ice cream, shakes and floats if you still have room for dessert.

Dog Haus is open:

10A-10P Monday through Thursday, 9A-10P Friday & Saturday,

and Sunday 9A-9P.

Dog Haus Biergarten
6310 US Route 50
Barboursville, WV 25504

Monday, April 03, 2023

St. Albans HDJ Review - Butcher's Black Angus


Editor's Note: This is the first review from Wimpy, our newest Weenie Wonk. Welcome to the team, Wimpy!

The hot dogs at Butcher’s Black Angus are carry-out only, but chances are, they won’t make it past the parking lot.

Sure, you can do some shopping at this small, neighborhood market. But you’ll want to saunter over to the deli case and order a couple of hot dogs to take home (or to the car.)

They’re delicious.

Hot dogs are “made your way” with chili, ketchup (!), mustard, onion and slaw listed as options.

Slight score deduction for the ketchup hiccup and the added cheese offering.

Be sure to upgrade to the all beef weenie, because of course, we go premium.

It takes a few minutes, no matter how busy the store is. They take their time steaming the buns and applying the toppings neatly. It’s a generous portion of toppings, yet they hold their place. Save the napkin for your mouth afterwards.

The chili/sauce is meaty, finely ground beef with a good proportion of spice. It marries well with the slaw, perfectly blended between creaminess and its shredded cabbage.

(The in-house made chili/sauce and slaw are also available fresh made daily to purchase from the deli cooler.)

This hot dog seemingly melts in your melt, yet with a crisp snap of the beef weenie. The taste of summer, available 12 months a year in fact.

Butcher’s Black Angus is known for its quality meats and specialty item availability. And there’s plenty of lunch meats, salads and spreads to choose from.

If it seems like a blast from the past when you walk in, I’m sure that it is intentional. Good stuff, that will likely take you back a few years.

4 Weenies.

Butcher’s Black Angus

722 Kanawha Terrace

St. Albans, WV 25177


Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Charleston HDJ Review - The Daily Dose Cafe

This little coffee shop got its start a few years back peddling coffee with cannabidiol (CBD), trying to
capitalize on the CBD craze. Sitting in a less-than-ideal location along McCorkle Avenue, where you have to go around the block and halfway up the alley to find the parking lot and the main entry, it isn't subject to a lot of walk-in business. Nevertheless, it has survived two setbacks that might have sunk lesser businesses: a 2019 ruling from the FDA that CBD should not be ingested in food and drink (due more to lack of study than any hard evidence that it's harmful), and the COVID19 pandemic. They have succeeded by changing into more of a full-service cafe with delicious breakfast items, sandwiches and a mix of healthy foods and decadent baked treats that pair well with a cup of coffee, now CBD-free. They still sell CBD supplements if you swing that way. 

Over the past few years while they were navigating the tricky waters that life and the FDA created for them, they had some inconsistent hours, but recently they have made a new commitment to their customers by increasing their open days (now Monday-Saturday) and hours (now 7-3 weekedays and 8-2 Saturday). As a way to announce their new hours and attitude they have been running a social media campaign and - in a brilliant stroke of marketing genius - added hot dogs to the menu.

Boasting "homemade chili and slaw" they caught our eye and so we just had to drop in and check them out. Now long-time readers of this blog know that "homemade" doesn't hold any water with our Weenie Wonks (we prefer professionally produced hot dogs), but we know that some of you always seem to think your homemade is better than the rest so we figured we'd give it a shot.

We ordered up and had to wait quite a while for our hot dogs to be made. This is common with places who don't specialize in hot dogs. In skilled and practiced hands, a WV hot dog is a very quick thing to prepare; slop the chili and sling the slaw. But give a newbie the task and they primp and preen, trying to make it pretty and take way too long. We can't fault The Daily Dose for this since they are brand new in the hot dog biz. We can find fault, though, for having ketchup in the list of "everything" toppings. No thank you.

When we did finally get them, our hot dogs were pretty and well made with plenty of toppings. Now we know that you purists out there are going to complain about the two things you always complain about, carrots in the slaw and onions chopped too coarsely. Ya'll are as predictable as Fairmont folks complaining about slaw. We don't mind the carrots and if the onions are mild, we don't mind them being big either. But you do you.

So here's the thing about these hot dogs: While usually a good WV hot dog has to have sweet slaw to offset the spicy and savory chili, this slaw was rather bland but the chili was quite sweet. And it kind of worked. The weenie was obviously high quality and seemed lightly grilled which brought out some flavor and the whole hot dog was very good. The bun was soft and warm if not steamed and as we mentioned before, the onions were a bit large, but overall this was a very good hot dog. 

We're going to give The Daily Dose a strong 4 Weenie score and encourage them the make hot dogs a regular menu item. 

You can find The Daily Dose at 5206 1/2 McCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV

(681) 265-3943

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Charleston HDJ Review - Pepperoni Grill

Several years back, when politicians argued about things that mattered instead of making up lies about stolen elections and what not, a great debate brewed in the halls of the West Virginia state capitol. The issue at hand was one that many people cared passionately about, but try as they did they could not get certain elected leaders to state their position. Then Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was asked the question directly during a press conference and he hemmed and hawed and never really took a stance. The issue? What should be the official state food, the West Virginia Hot Dog or the Pepperoni Roll?

Now it might surprise you to know that this blog came down on the side of the pepperoni roll, since it is a truly West Virginia creation and not just a different version of something more universal. No, we bravely go where politicians fear to tread. Because here, right matters. And we love a good pepperoni roll as much as the next real West Virginian.

There are only a handful of places in West Virginia, though, that are truly serious about both of these quintessential West Virginia foods. Finding a place where you can get a good pepperoni roll AND a good hot dog is difficult no matter where you are in the state. One of them is Swiftwater General Store in Lansing, and the other is Kanawha City's Pepperoni Grill. Both of these purveyors make their own delicious pepperoni rolls, and -- we just found out -- both have excellent hot dogs. 

Pepperoni Grill is a tiny storefront on a side street in the Kanawha City section of Charleston. The ordering area is small and there are two small tables at which to dine. A larger dining area is just up the stairs and there is a small patio out front where you may dine alfresco when weather permits. The place is always hopping and parking spaces are in high demand between walk in customers and Door Dashers waiting to pick up orders. Service is reasonably quick, though. 

We arrived at the height of lunchtime but the line moved quickly and we were able to place our order for the hot dog special: Two hot dogs, chips and a drink for $7.99. Everything here sadly includes ketchup, so we had to delete that from our order, but everything else went smoothly. We grabbed one of the two nearby tables and soon we had our food. 

Interestingly enough, yellow slaw was listed as an option, but we declined. It seems that a lot of Kanawha City HDJs are now offering yellow slaw. 

The hot dogs were pleasing to the eye, with a large helping of just about everything and a plump bun to

hold it all. The bun was not steamed but was very soft. The all-beef Nathan's Famous weenie was perfectly grilled. The chili was good -- not great -- and not at all spicy. The chili paired well, though, with the very sweet and creamy slaw. While the onions were chopped on the coarse side, they were mild enough not to be overwhelming. The whole hot dog was delicious and well made. 

If the chili were a bit more spicy, and if the onions were chopped smaller, and we didn't have to specify "no ketchup" we might have given Pepperoni Grill a top score, but details matter and so we'll deduct a half-point and give it a 4.5 Weenie score. Still, one of Charleston's best hot dogs. 

The Pepperoni Grill is officially located at 4002 McCorkle Avenue in Charleston, but actually faces 40th Street a half-block off McCorkle. They are closed Sundays but open most days  till 8PM. 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Ravenswood HDJ Review - The Dawg Pound

Sometimes the best hot dogs are found inside the most unlikely looking buildings, and it's hard to imagine a more unlikely looking building than Ravenswood's "The Dawg Pound." From the outside The Pound doesn't look like anything. It is in a very large and very old building that bears no resemblance to any restaurant we've ever been in. If we'd not have Google Maps guiding us we may well have driven right by. The tall pole sign confirmed we had found it, but then, after seeing the walk-up window, we almost drove on by since we really didn't want to dine ala-car-go. Another look at the Google listing, though, convinced us that there was inside dining somewhere in there. 

But even after we found the entrance (which is kind of hidden on the right-rear of the building and not well-labeled as the entrance), walking into the tiny space that it opened into was still not matching up with our expectations for the number one-rated local restaurant in Ravenswood according to Google reviews. It was only after we were greeted and invited to find a seat in the adjacent dining room did we finally feel like we'd arrived at a bonafide HDJ. 

I should say, we found a seat in one of the adjacent dining rooms. There are three. Two of them with bars. And they are comfortable and decorated with care. They are just hard to find for the first time visitor. 

But hey, we don't score on decor and ease of access here, we are only concerned with the hot dogs, so let's talk about those. 

First, this is the Ohio Valley, so we know that we have to say "sauce," which we hate, because "sauce, slaw, mustard and onions" just doesn't roll off the tongue as well a "chili, slaw..." does it? And since this is a full-service restaurant and -- despite the name -- does not specialize in hot dogs, we're going to have to ask for no ketchup. That's a given. 

But once we've cleared these two hurdles, all that's left is to wait on our order and look around at the myriad of stuff that adorns the walls of the three dining rooms. Mostly Ravenswood High School and WVU themed, but also lots of NASCAR and general sports stuff. There's a lot to look at, and we barely got started before our hot dogs arrived. 

First off, I have to say I was fooled by the words on the menu into thinking this was going to be a ginormous Genteel Dog. I don't recall the exact wording -- something like "overflowing with toppings" -- but it was sufficient to make me believe that one would be enough. In reality, the hot dog was just average sized. The toppings were applied generously though, so no foul.

The bun was not steamed, but soft. It was warm but a bit crusty on the outside, like it had been oven-warmed. Not crusty enough to be problematic, but enough to deduct a half-Weenie from it's score. 

The chili, I mean sauce, was tasty with not much spiciness outside a slight chili powder flavor. The slaw was creamy and very sweet. The two paired well. The onions were nicely chopped, but were red which for some purists is a no-no. They didn't hurt the flavor here. The weenie seemed basic and not waterlogged, so I guessed it was lightly grilled. The mustard was applied evenly and almost invisibly. 

Overall the hot dog was  very good. The lack of steamed bun hurts a little, but it was still soft and easy to handle. The pairing of the sauce and slaw was just right. We'll give The Dawg Pound a 4 1/2 Weenie score. Pretty good by Ohio Valley standards.

They have lots of other things on the menu, and the atmosphere seems like it would be a cheerful place for lunch or dinner even if you weren't in the mood for hot dogs. 

But who is ever not in the mood for hot dogs? 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Montgomery HDJ Review - Leslie's Restaurant & Pub

Several readers have sent suggestions that we should review this newish HDJ in the upper Kanawha Valley. A recent trip that way gave us the opportunity to stop in for lunch. 

Leslie's is located on the lower end of Montgomery, just across the road from the giant Marsico Brothers American flag. It's also steps away from the local Dairy Queen, which has some of the worst hot dogs we've ever reviewed, so we were hopeful -- for the sake of the hot dog-loving Montgomery population -- that Leslie's would have good quality hot dogs. According to recent blog contributor Dale Claskey and others, we were not going to be disappointed. 

But we kinda were.

Don't get us wrong, Leslie's hot dogs are good, just not great. Every part of the hot dogs was was perfectly fine, but nothing about it was special. The only slights we could have is that you need to be careful when ordering because "everything" includes ketchup, and that they have one of those wrongfully named "English" hot dogs on the menu, but we're not holding that against them. 

The place is clean and the service is delightfully friendly if not terribly quick at the height of the lunch hour. A steady stream of to go orders kept the kitchen busy no doubt, but the relatively small number of tables didn't seem to account for the backlog. Not a terrible wait, but long enough to be noticeable. We could have shot a quick game of pool if we knew we had time. But we're not holding that against them either. 

Breaking down the hot dog, the chili was flavorful with barely a trace of spice, and the slaw was creamy but not sweet. The bun wasn't steamed. But you could tell that the hot dog was assembled with care, and that Leslie's gives a hoot about hot dogs. That's worth a lot. 

We're going to give Leslie's a solid 4 Weenie rating. Not as high as some of our readers seem to think it deserves, but still the best hot dog in Montgomery.