Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Huntington Hot Dog Joint: Sufficient Sustenance at Stewart's--Huntington Mall

Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, the Huntington Mall in Barboursville becomes a hyper, hectic, and hysterical shirne to everyday capitalism at its most fevered pitch. Shoppers push, pull, tug, and trek to get the best holiday deals on toys, clothes, collectibles, and fine-ish jewelry.

Last weekend my wife and I decided to get it over with before that final push of steel---the proverbial Pickett's Charge---in the last couple of days before the 25th so that we may enjoy our son's first Xmas with minimal shopping-related violence/injuries/misdemeanors.

In order to fuel up for the marathon of value that awaited us, we decided to stop by the Stewart's Original Hot Dogs located near the center of the mall.

After waiting in line for quite some time (more so the result of a large crowd than poor service), we received our grub and dug into what is voted year after year as Huntington's favorite hot dog (if the Herald-Dispatch is to be believed, anyway).

I got a dog with sauce, slaw, onions, and mustard (the ususal) and a root beer. As is always the case at Stewart's, I got my hot dog wrapped in a napkin with the toppings placed under the weenie. In my opinion, this inverted fixins approach is a recipe for a soggy mess of a dog. It isn't so bad if you are going to eat the sausage immediately, but even putting off your meal for the duration of a trip back to the house or work can result in mushy mayhem.

As far the dog's components go, the bun was fresh, even for a Huntington dog, and the weenie was a tasty Cavalier frank, which means that is likely has never been frozen. So far, so good.

The slaw was very good. It had a nice texture, a perfect sweetness, and that certain zingy tartness that is found only in great cole slaw (for those not from West Virginia, southeastern Ohio or eastern Kentucky, think KFC slaw, only, um, better). While there are a few other slaws that I prefer to Stewart's, the chain certainly has nothing to be embarrassed about in the cabbage 'n mayo department.

Now to the sauce. I don't know how to say this. I am worried that I will lose my Huntington citizenship and be forced to move to Charleston (gasp) with the bureaucrats and technocrats and accountants and lawyers and, chillingly, legislators if I let this be known.

OK, I'll just blurt it out. Here we go. 1, 2, 3.


Ok, I feel better. I've come out of the napkin and I'm proud (I know my friends will be supportive, but I'm really nervous about telling my dad).

Seriously, though, I really do not like the sauce. There is little to no beef in the finished product, which tastes similar to Vietti's canned hot dog chili (only with a smoother texture).

Well, I guess hate may be too strong of a word, as I am capable of eating it on a dog when I have to. I suppose that I just dislike the fact that they can pawn off a cheap, bean-based sauce on the city and that a good portion of my fellow citizens are not only pcan't get enough of it. I've even heard a rumor that the owner of one of the rival area hot dog joints is secretly addicted to the stuff (hint: they have much better hot dogs than Stewart's). But not me.

Therefore, I am going to get one of my friend's that loves the stuff to join me when I review the 5th Ave Stewart's and try to get them to help me see the error in my judgment of Stewart's Original blah dog sauce.

Overall, I give the Stewart's Huntington Mall location 3 weenies. Not great, but it works as spot to get a quick weenie or root beer (not as good as Frostop, but still very good) fix when power shopping at the mall.

More on the mystery of Stewart's love-it-or-hate-it sauce to come.

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