Saturday, February 27, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - The Red Carpet Lounge

This little dive has been around 40 years or so, and has become the watering hole of choice for a mostly older and professional crowd. Since it is the closest drinking bar to the state capitol building it is not unusual to see small clusters of well dressed politicians and lobbyists engaged in after hours discussions; leaning in closely to talk discreetly about who knows what - most likely in gross violation of the Sunshine Law. Only just recently did the Red Carpet start serving lunch, though. Some folks I work with recently went there for lunch and told me that they had hot dogs on the menu so I decided to check it out.

When I walked in at a few minutes after noon on a Friday, I rather expected there to be a crowd. Nothing could be further from the fact: There were two people at the bar and three sitting at the gambling machines. The lights were off in one half of the room and I received no welcome or even a look of annoyed acknowledgment. It was like I was invisible. I looked around uncomfortable for a few moments, trying to figure out if I should sit or order first. I thought that surely one of the two women working behind the bar would say something if I stood there long enough, but nothing. I finally decided to sit at a table closest to the bar and try to make some kind of eye contact with the wait staff. I sat there in the half dark for almost ten minutes before the waitress finally came out from behind the bar and walked over to my table. She didn't say a word - just stood there. It was awkward. Very awkward. Finally I asked "what is everything on a hot dog?" This question was met with an exasperated explanation of what she liked on a hot dog, but never did shed light on what the establishment's "everything" dog had on it. She listed relish and ketchup among the toppings available (which I had already seen on the printed menu on the table) and of course I asked her to delete those two things and bring two hot dogs with everything else.

But loyal readers know that I don't worry too much about service if the price is good.

It isn't.

The menu listed the price of one hot dog with chip and a pickle at $3.70, and to add a second hot dog it was an extra $1.60. So $5.30 for 2 hot dogs and a one-ounce bag of lays BBQ - which I had to go retrieve myself after the waitress forgot to bring them. A can of coke was $1.10 extra. That's $6.40. I can get the sam thing downtown at Swiftwater for a buck and a half less.

OK, but loyal readers know that I don't worry too much about price if the quality is there.

It isn't.

The bun was stale, the slaw was coarse and tasteless (I'm betting it was from Sam's; not the HDJ, the wholesale club) and the chili was weak (probably Custard Stand brand - also from Sam's). The weenie was grilled, I think, but it was tough and chewy.

Even without the high price and the bad service, this hot dog would barely tip the scale at 2.5 Weenies. Add in those factors and I'm going to award The Red Carpet Lounge a 1.5 Weenie rank.

If you find yourself near the Capitol at lunch time and have a hankerin' for a hot dog, the self-serve hot dogs at the 7-11 around the corner is a better bet than the Red Carpet.


Enos Straitt said...

Thanx for the warning!

Unknown said...


I think I shall skip this place. Please tell me you did not tip your "server."

Christopher Scott Jones said...

That reminds me of a certain bbq place in Huntington where, before the smoking ban, you'd get to watch all of the waitresses smoke @ the bar while they'd get to watch you sit around with an empty soda.