Saturday, January 19, 2013

St. Albans HDJ Review - Sammy's Chili Dogs

After a long hiatus, partially because of holidays and partially to give our triglycerides a chance to return to tolerable levels, our Weenie Wonks are back on the job just in time to catch a brand-spanking new HDJ in their first week of business. And while sometimes a new restaurant takes a while to get their sea legs and start putting out a quality product, we found out that this is not the case with Sammy's Chili Dogs.

Sitting on the bank of the Coal River backwater on West Main Street, this HDJ just opened this past week and is already causing a splash. [Update: Now located at 54 MacCorkle Avenue in St. Albans]We first heard of it through a Facebook Fan and were eager to check it out since it's been so long since a new HDJ opened in these parts. It didn't take long to find Sammy's since it is right at the intersection of West Main and Coal River Road and has a flashing red traffic light that stops all cars right in from of its door.

First thing you notice - if you are an experienced Weenie Wonk - is that Sammy's sign looks very much like another area HDJ whose name also is a derivative of the name "Samuel." We'll just have to wait and see if somebody's lawyer notices. [Update: Somebody's lawyer must have noticed because Sammy's has changed its name to "Bammy's, and their sign is different.]

The second thing you notice is that Sammy's keeps insane hours for a HDJ: Open from 9:00 AM until 3:00 AM daily and then from 1:00PM until 2:00AM on Sundays.

Inside, Sammy's is clean as you would expect a week-old restaurant to be, but it is also tastefully decorated and homey with comfortable seating for probably 20 diners and a few more at the counter. The staff is friendly and the service is quick.

As for toppings, Sammy's doesn't seem to have a standard set of toppings, an unfortunate trait which is usually an indicator of lower quality hot dogs. "Everything" is not well defined and can include anything from the proper WVHD toppings of mustard, chili (regular or spicy), slaw and onions to ketchup, pickle relish and jalapenos. I ordered mine of course with mustard, onions, slaw and chose the spicy chili.

My hot dog came out with some rather large chunks of onions sitting on it, but otherwise looked good. The spicy chili had a lot more going on that just spice and was perfectly balanced by excellent slaw; creamy and sweet and applied in perfect proportion. The bun was soft and had obviously been steamed fresh. The weenie was all-beef and of the large-caliber variety. This hot dog has been thought through by someone who loves hot dogs and was very well executed.  Very good and very satisfying.

The size of the onions makes it necessary to deduct one-half point, but Sammy's gets an enthusiastic 4 1/2 Weenies and our unabashed recommendation as the best HDJ in St. Albans. A little out of the way (especially with the closing of the Nitro bridge) but well worth it.