Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chesapeake, OH Hot Dog Joint: Chesapeake Flea Market Snack Bar

As I mentioned in my review of M & M Dairy Bell in Chesapeake, the section of Lawrence County across the river from Huntington (Chesapeake, Proctorville, Rome, etc.) has many elements of Appalachian, West Virginian, and Huntingtonian culture despite the minor technicality that it is, in fact, in Ohio.

One such common cultural tradition is the flea market. The Chesapeake Flea Market is just one of the many in our area and, as is often the case, it features a snack bar where we find another commonality: West Virginia-style hot dogs.

A regular dog was a buck, while "everything" costs an extra four bits. This was concerning, but I was told that everything includes "sauce, slaw, onions, and mustard" without a mention of any ketchup-based heresy, so they did earn a bit of redemption.

A major red flag, however, popped up as prep on my dawg commenced. The weenie-istas seemed too keen to not use gloves when handling food products and they may have even handled money (flea market money, at that) while making the grub.

I guess I'm spoiled by Cabell-Huntington's health dept., which requires gloves for all food handlers. Putnam County also doesn't require gloves, which initially freaked me out at the Teays Valley Sam's Hot Dog Stand a while back, but in their defense, they washed their hands like Marc Summers on crack.
Sadly, I saw no such behavior at the snack bar.

One of the requirements of this job, however, is to be an intrepid eater of hot dogs and always, always, put the weenie first, so I tried to focus on the food and not the conditions as much as possible.

They feature a regular Heiners bun, but they very lightly grilled it with some butter. This act, while not the traditional method of bun preparation in central Appalachia, is a pleasant touch. The butter and griddle give the bun a nice, light flavor and a gentle toasting that gives it a bit of a textural bite. If we still gave out Weenie Awards for the Best Buns, this place would be a serious local contender.

The weenies are grilled and have a nice flavor to them. Any hot dog fan who is primarily concerned with getting a good grilled weenie, with all other considerations secondary, should be satisfied.

They serve Homemade sauce, with dominant notes of ground beef and chopped onion. The sauce is not my favorite and certainly could use more heat, spice, and salt (always season your food, so say the judges on Top Chef). That being said, there is an element of thoughtfulness put into the sauce that put it in the category of comfort food. If your mom or grandma made fair-to-middlin' hot dog chili sauce when you were younger, it may bring back fond memories of yesteryear.

The slaw is finely diced, but is also dry and not at all sweet. It has the taste and texture of a bad knock-off of Hillbilly Hot Dogs not-so-great-itself slaw.

As long as you are not a child, elderly, or have a compromised immune system due to advanced HIV or bone marrow disease and you really enjoy a undressed dog with just mustard, this place really isn't half-bad. The buns and weenie are among the best in Huntingtonland.

As a WV Hot Dog Joint, though, I give them a 2.5 weenie rating. With some salt and chili powder for the sauce, some sugar and mayo/Miracle Whip for the slaw, and some disposable plastic gloves for the help, this could easily elevate to the 3-4 weenie range.


Christopher Scott Jones said...

Two quick notes:

1) The hot dog did not cause any intestinal discomfort.

2) A lady in the outside area from South Point sells really good homemade pickled beats for $3 a jar. These jars have about 3x the beats that you would get for the same flow at Krogers and taste a heluvah lot better.

wvapoker said...

Food handlers gloves give germaphobes a false sense of security. I would much rather watch someone wash their hands than put on some nasty glove that the food handler thinks is protecting them from the food than the food from them. Proper hand washing and temperature control are the two most important parts of food safety. All that said I would never worry about the salty weeniers, the bun and even the slaw when it comes to food poisoning. It is the chili that sits in the crock pot for hours and hours then is put in the fridge and used the next day.
Insist on chili made fresh daily!
My short bit or 10 cents...