Thursday, January 24, 2008

Charleston HDJ Review - Gram's Specialties

Gram's Specialties is a little bake shop in Kanawha City that has high-end baked goods for sale in a snazzy storefront on McCorkle Avenue. They have a beautiful selection of pies and other goodies in their display case and offer others that can be made to order with advance notice. The attention to quality is evident in the aesthetics of the finished product, and Gram's makes no apologies for their attitude that quality is worth the money: Pies routinely go for $25 and up.

I've not been a customer of Gram's before, primarily because I'm a cheapskate and I knew their prices were higher than I wanted to pay for things that would only make me fat, but I am always intrigued when I drive by and see the delectable delights beckoning from the window. Imagine my surprise when I saw a sign in the window one December evening that said "No Hot Dog Lunches Until 2008." Hot dogs? I thought maybe they meant this kind of hot dogs, but the "lunch" threw me. I decided I needed to wait until 2008 and investigate more thoroughly.

So here it is, 2008 already and I finally made it to Gram's. I was immediately encouraged when I walked into the place and was greeted with a sign that proudly proclaimed the presence of hot dogs, and only hot dogs, for lunch. You really have to admire a place that so proudly embraces the One True Food that way. No hamburgers. No BBQs. No Salads. Hot dogs and sides. That's it. I love these people.

So since I already loved these new people so much I was secretly rooting for a great hot dog, but my professional Weenie Wonk work ethic prevented me from being prejudicial.

When I was told that "everything" included ketchup my enthusiasm became cautious, and when saw that my hot dog was served in a coffin it lowered my expectations a bit more. But as soon as I opened the coffin lid I was completely wowed by the size and weight of this beauty: It filled the bottom of the coffin completely with its girth. The bun was soft, obviously steamed, and it was piled high with toppings. Only after the second bite did I recognize that a major part of the voluminousness of the hot dog was the weenie itself: It was the kind of oversized version like you might expect to find at upscale HDJs and it was quite tasty. Of course, some would say that the the weenie can be too big and eliminate the space needed for a proper bunful of toppings. While I respect this opinion, Gram's doesn't fall into the trap because they overload it anyway. The amount of chili and slaw that is contained in this hot dog could make two or three hot dogs at some HDJs.

The chili is heavy on the chili powder and about as meaty as it can possibly be. Throw in some kidney beans and you'd have some nice chili to eat from a bowl on a cold January day. The slaw is way too coarse for my tastes, and a little sloppy (which is apparently by design since they call their hot dogs "Slawppy Dogs") but tastes very good (sweet) and goes well with the chili. The onions were hardly noticeable, apparently one of the sweet species like Oso or Vidalia.

This is a really good, bordering on great, hot dog. It is big and filling and unlike other things in Gram's, is priced very reasonably for its size at $1.95. I'm going to give it a 4.5 Weenie rating.

I think I'll go back soon and get another Slawppy Dog with a side order of Berry Clouds or a $30 pie. Now THAT'S a combo meal!


The Film Geek said...

Excellent review, Stanton. And what an ususual, intereting place. I gotta figure out some way to get there...

Evil Twin's Wife said...

We should all hook up at Gram's some weekend for a dog!

larryosaurus said...

I'm all over this. Sounds like it's right up there w/ Swiftwaters dogs :D