Thursday, March 01, 2007

Charleston Hot Dog Joint Review - The Blossom Dairy

It's probably near criminal to call The Blossom Deli a Hot Dog Joint. And it's also probably just as criminal to compare the hot dog they sell with those found at places like Dairy Queen, but hey, it's my blog.

The Blossom Deli, in it's current form, opened in 1994 when owner Bill Sohovich moved back to Charleston and decided to open a restaurant. Thousands of happy diners are even happier that he did. It is consistently one of the best restaurants in Charleston and Bill's other restaurant, Soho's, is one of the other best that Charleston has to offer.

The Blossom is a little bit schizophrenic. Each day the lunch crowd jams the Art Deco booths and bar stools. The beautiful old marble-lined walls and domed ceiling tend to amplify the din of the diners until it reaches a point that makes interpersonal communication nearly impossible. The menu consists of a nice selection of impeccably prepared sandwiches and salads, a Soup du Jour and an honest to goodness Blue Plate Special. The prices are quite reasonable and the whole place just seems to have a casual elegance that makes it a really nice place to have lunch.

But when the sun sinks low in the sky The Blossom really puts on The Ritz. The white linen table cloths come out, as do the flower vases and candles on each table. No one sits at the counter, and no one sitting at tables wear blue jeans. The chatter is much more subdued, allowing the cool jazz playing in the background to come through loud and clear. Seafood and pasta take the place of sandwiches and the price of your visit goes up substantially.

But whatever time of day you go, you will find out that Chef Bill knows his stuff. He also knows his clientele. And that is where we begin with our hot dog review.

Bill is a native Charlestonian, he is a fabulous gourmet chef and he makes hot dogs: You can do the math and figure out what a Blossom Hot Dog must be like. But for those who are mathematically challenged, allow me to interpret.

First of all, it's big. The weenie is one of those Chicago Big Red style all-beef versions that requires a bun much larger than a typical WVHD to contain it. If you eat normally order two hot dogs at your favorite WVHD Joint, you will only need to order one at The Blossom. This is a good thing because at $3.50 it is more than double the price of a typical WVHD. Now some gourmet chefs might take a big ol' hot dog like this and cover it gourmet toppings to make it a little more, well, gourmet. But not Chef Bill. No, here is a native Charlestonian that hasn't lost touch with his culinary roots: What is "Everything"? Chili, slaw, mustard and onions. But like the rest of the hot dog it is served in large portions and like the rest of The Blossom's offerings, it is unbelievably good.

The chili is thick & meaty and loaded with a rich chili powder-induced slow burn. The slaw is nothing terribly fancy but very good and served in proportion to the rest of the giant dog. The only thing that tips you off as to the "gourmet" nature of this dog is the very pretty minced Red Bermuda onions that add a colorful touch to the presentation and a little more spice for the taste buds.

Put it all together and you have a big hot dog that looks great and tastes as good as it looks. It is a satisfying meal by itself and the atmosphere of The Blossom makes all the more satisfying. I am going to give this hot dog a Five Weenie rating, but it really should have an asterisk that alerts people to the fact that this is not a typical WVHD or a typical WVHD Joint. On flavor alone, it wouldn't quite make a Five. But still, it's a unique WVHD experience that you really should try if you have the opportunity.

1 comment:

The Film Geek said...

Terrific review, Stanton. The Blossom is one of my favorite eateries in Charleston. Never had a hot dog there, though. But I will.