Friday, May 28, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - Hog and Dog

Located in the former home of Tudor's Biscuit World on Bigley Avenue, this brand new HDJ has dared to set up shop 100 yards from a Charleston institution; Chris' Hot Dogs. Not that Chris' has no competitors close by, (The Grille, three doors west of Chris' and Freeman's Restaurant which is across the street and a few doors west), but to open up a place that is all about hot dogs and BBQ - two mainstays of Chris' - is suicide. Unless of course, your product is good enough to lure customers away.With that belief in mind, I walked into Hog and Dog expecting a really good hot dog.

I didn't get it.

This dog is weak all around. The weenie was grilled so much that it had a tough skin on the outside that was difficult to break with incisors alone. The bun was mediocre, the chili was tasteless. The slaw had chunks of green peppers in it.

Out the abundance of fairness and with deference to the newness of the place, I'm gonna give Hog and Dog a 2.5 Weenie score.

I know that there are people that have fallen out of love with Chris' who will probably try Hog and Dog, but I can't imagine that they can honestly prefer this weak effort to the classic that is served just a few steps away.

I will also point out that the menu and atmosphere leads me to think that Hog and Dog are somehow related to these two places - both of which served a better dog than this one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - Wellington's Cafe

Folks in the Charleston area will remember the name "Wellington's" as being synonymous with fine dining for over twenty years. Located inside Scarlet Oaks Country Club in Poca, this was a fancy eatin' place if ever there was one and the owners also had a great catering business. With the economy making it hard for restaurants lately, Wellington's decided to close their restaurant and focus only on catering; or so we thought.

Now, far from Poca in the Meadowbrook section of Charleston, we find Wellington's Cafe. Open for lunch Monday-Friday, this place isn't fancy and has a radically different menu than the old place had. But they do have one important addition to their menu: hot dogs.

When I saw hot dogs on the menu, I was both hopeful and cautious: Hopeful because Wellington's - as already mentioned - is known for excellent food, but cautious because - let's be honest - what would a real chef know about WVHDs?

When I ordered my hot dog I found another reason to be both hopeful and cautious: "everything" does not include ketchup - but it also doesn't include mustard. I asked for one with everything plus mustard.

When I got my hot dog, it looked a little suspect. Served unwrapped in a basket, it was laying kind of flat with its toppings just kind of piled on the spread open bun. When I picked up the hot dog its heft was impressive and I was confused by the softness of the bun and it's toasted appearance. After a closer inspection I found that the bun had been grilled - not like the typical NES bun, but it had been spread open and grilled face down. This gave it a remarkable texture and added some nice flavor while still maintaining the integrity of a real WVHD soft bun.

Other than the piled up appearance, the hot dog looked good. The slaw was a beautiful color and texture and the chili looked dark and meaty.

It took approximately one bite to realize that Wellington's knows hot dogs.

The beauty of the chili and slaw is much more than skin deep, and the two go perfectly together. Actually, this slaw is one of those rare kinds that seemingly would go well with anything. A slight hint of dill was buried in its sweetness and it had a tarty finish. The chili was just plain good. Not terribly spicy but very complex and perfect texture.

All in all a surprising place to find a 5 Weenie hot dog. I am very glad I found it. You can find it on Greenbrier Street just past Capitol Flea Market.