Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Martinsville HDJ – Knowlton’s Chill ‘n Grill

On a recent trip to New Martinsville, I asked an old colleague where I could find some good hot dogs in the area. My colleague isn’t really a big fan of hot dogs like I am, but he mentioned a place he’d heard of from some of his buddies called Knowlton’s Chill ‘n Grill.

First, I'd like to give a little background history on Knowlton's, as given to by one of our readers who I will identify as "Mr. R". The Knowlton's family reportedly ran a Tasty Freeze in Friendly, WV for several years, offering up some tasty hot dogs featuring a "secret" hot dog sauce that was prepared by Mrs. Knowlton. Somewhere in the 70's or 80's, the place suddenly shut down. Rumor has it that at one point a famous ketchup manufacturer offered a large sum of money for the recipe, which was declined by Mrs. Knowlton.

Knowlton’s is easy to find, as it sits right along State Route 2 going through town. It is a remodeled building with a nice deck sporting several umbrella-covered tables for enjoying lunch or ice cream outside. The inside has a few small tables scattered about. The menu offers standard short-order items and Hershey’s brand ice cream.

The prices of the dogs are a little steep as a dog with chili, onions, mustard, and slaw going for $1.95. The service wasn’t overly friendly –though not rude- and I didn’t feel welcomed. I’m not saying I have to be personally greeted every time I hit the door, but at no time did the clerk taking my order make eye contact or thank me for my order (note: this also happened on a follow-up visit). Just one of those details I’m a stickler about when doing a review.

I ordered up two dogs with the standard WVHD contents and an order of fries…which turned out to be plain old store-bought crinkle cuts. I found the hot dogs themselves to be much too sweet for my spice-calloused taste buds. My friend commented first, saying he found them somewhat inedible due sweetness. (I didn’t pinpoint the base of the seemingly meatless sauce until a day or two later when I was in the grocery store and walked past cans of Manwich sauce. Yup, Manwich sauce.) I dissected my hot dog so I could try to get a visual on what else was in the sauce. I found a couple of kidney beans and bits of pickle relish.

The cabbage in the slaw was coarsely chopped while the dressing had a smooth, creamy consistency. It had a markedly sweet taste as well. I thought it was good enough that it would undoubtedly go well with a medium or hot chili/sauce. However, the sweetness of the slaw dressing is just too much to bear when combined with the sweet chili sauce. The buns had potential as they seemed to be warmed well enough, but a hint of staleness quickly squashed any hopes of salvaging something positive out of this experience.

I don’t think many -if any- WVHD fans will be happy with these dogs. This might be a good place to take the kids, but that’s where I’d draw the line. Based on the overly-sweet sauce/slaw combination and not-as-friendly-as-could-be service, I have to give Knowlton’s two-and-a-half weenies.


Christopher Scott Jones said...

I hate to tell you, but it is a flat-out sin for a WV HDJ so serve any fries other than crinkle-cut. :)

I also hate those places that treat anyone other than in-towners and regulars with deep suspicion. To me, that just reinforces the stereotype that we are a xenophobic lot.

Stanton said...

The opinion expressed in the previous post is the opinion of Chris James and does not reflect the official opinion of regarding the acceptability of fries made in methods other than crinkle cut.

Christopher Scott Jones said...

Um, what?

If you want stringy grease fries, go to a burger joint. Crinkle-cuts are the ONLY fries that should be served by a true WV HDJ that chooses to serve fries. Any other style is akin to those sauce-under-weenie dogs or using chunky slaw.

clear eyes said...

Big Daddy, what would it take to get a 2-weenie rating or less? The hot dog was too sweet. The bun was stale. The service was below par. The chili was too sweet and "meatless." The cole slaw was coarsely chopped and better suited for a mild or hot chili. Perhaps it's time to stop grading on a curve!

Stanton said...

Who died and left clear eyes in charge of the Weenie Scale?

I might draw your attention to the official Weenie Scale description ( which clearly states that 2 Weenies mean the hot dogs need help. Sounds like an apt description to me.

Stanton said...

Chris, are the only choices in Huntington stringy grease fries and crinkle-cuts? In Charleston we have greasy crinkle cuts, crispy stringy fries, half-cooked wedges, overdone fat fries and probably a couple of more I have purposely forgotten.

A lot of people in Charleston love the fries at Chris' Hot Dogs which are fresh cut and greasy. Before I quit eating fries for dietary reasons I liked the ultra crispy crinkles at Romeo's. They still make my mouth water just thinking of them.

Since you are the resident fry connoisseur, you should do a post about fries some time.

I'm Dad (and I said so!) said...

I like the fresh cut kind myself. T&L makes some darn good ones. Nothing wrong with crinkle cuts either, if you can find good ones (in the case of this review, they weren't). But I'd really, REALLY go out of my way for some decent onion rings.

That could be a matter of future debate: onion rings or fries?

As for the rating, I used the rating system (that Stanton eluded to) as a guide. It was a sweetness overload.

Christopher Scott Jones said...

Funny you should mention that, Stanton. I've got something in the works on why I love crinkle-cut fries, Sunny Buns, sweet root beer, spicy sauce, a certain atmosphere, and all of the other elements that I feel make for a perfect WV HDJ.

grannywithanattitude said...

Knowlton's is closed and the property is for sale.