Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Nutter Fort HDJ Review - Thelma’s Lunch

Thelma’s Lunch is one of those places that never seem to either stand out or fade away. You just know it’s there and that it’s always been there. It’s an old house that was built on the bank of the Elk Creek and connected via a footbridge to the old industrial park area nearby. Decades ago, the industrial park was a bustling hive of activity. Thelma’s served up “working man” type lunches like sandwiches (try the fried bologna!), soup, burgers, and of course hot dogs. By all accounts, Thelma’s Lunch should have gone away as well as the businesses around it in the eighties. But the humble building still stands nestled in its little corner of the world….literally…next to the recently restored foot bridge.

By literally, if you’re heading south on route 20 through Nutter Fort you won’t even see the place without crashing your car by craning your neck backwards ala ‘Exorcist’ style. Even if you’re heading north bound, you’ll need to slow down to find it crammed beside the Subway and Sandy Dandy’s Diner.

The owners have peppered the walls with photos and mounted wildlife trophies from various hunting and fishing trips. The aroma permeating throughout is the first thing that hits you. And it does hit you. Something’s always cooking…namely onions and peppers for the Billy Dogs, but more about those later.

Take heed that upon my initial visit here, I asked for slaw on the dog and seemed to have set off a reaction in the style of Yann’s or the Soup Nazi. I quote: “I absolutely refuse to put slaw on my hot dogs!” Ooookay! No problem. Please don’t kill me. I went for a standard chili, onions, and mustard. I couldn’t believe it, but I was asked if I wanted ketchup. In fact, on every visit I’ve made since I’m asked if I want ketchup. I always give a roaring “Oh no way!” What I really want to say is, “Oh no you DIDN’T just ask me that!” Canned and bottled drinks are offered up so I elected for a Coke. I should’ve got two.

The first bite of the dog was a serious sinus opener. Strong onions permeate every single bite. The wiener itself isn’t anything special, but it certainly had been in the steam bin long enough to make every bite juicy. Maybe it’s a bit too juicy. I noticed that the well steamed bun quickly absorbed the juices of the meat and began to go soggy. Not bad really, but just a bit over done for my tastes. One thing that worked my taste buds over was the mustard. I’ve not had another hot dog anywhere that has as much mustard. The word “slathered” is well used for the description.

Those of you not as accustomed to the spicy chili/sauces of the northern areas are in for a jolt. The chili is a beautiful brown color with fine texture. The flavor is magnificently meaty, but somewhat overrun by the chili powder and onions cooked into it. You WILL have a tingle in your mouth, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

About those Billy Dogs…if you’re feeling lucky then take a gamble on one of these. Not much different than the aforementioned variation of the dog ordered, but these include fried hot peppers and fried onions. Dang good and wicked hot! Good luck if you dare.

Thelma’s Lunch earns itself a three and a half weenie rating. The restaurant itself doesn’t stand out as much more than a good ol’ boys hangout, but the hot dogs themselves are unique and flavorful. I’d be curious to see what a decent slaw would do for them.

1 comment:

Rick Lee said...

I get up that way occasionally. This article makes me want to stop in and order a hot dog with slaw, just so I can walk out without buying one.