Friday, February 27, 2015

Charleston HDJ Review: Hot Dogs to Go at The Corner Kitchen

(OK, I have a confession: When Facebook user Ranson J Stuck nagged me to try the hot dogs at a place called "Suppers to Go", I thought he meant this place. And who could blame me? Who would imagine that there could be two take-out dinner places within a few blocks of each other in a remote corner of Charleston? Don't worry, Ranson, I'll get to your place soon enough.)

I had eaten before at The Corner Kitchen; or I should say that I had eaten from the Corner Kitchen since it is a carry out-only place that got its start selling packaged dinners to go of what they bill as "home cooked" food. I had only eaten there twice before and thought the food was passable, but not remarkable, and so I figured that the hot dogs would be about the same quality.

The first bad omen was when I was told that "everything" included the dreaded red plague known as ketchup, along with the proper toppings chili, slaw, mustard and onions. After deleting this offensive offering from my order I paid my $4 for two hot dogs and waited on my order. In about the appropriate amount of time I received my two hot dogs that were double-packaged in styrofoam coffins sealed tightly with plastic wrap, which I guessed to be an extraordinary attempt at keeping the hot dogs warm and steamy on their ride home. This attempt failed: Even though my ride was less than 5 minutes, when I opened the hot dog packages they were somewhere between lukewarm and stone-cold.

Allow me to vent a moment about these damned coffins: They do not keep hot dogs warm. They are so thin that they provide no insulation value whatsoever. They do protect the dogs from being squished, but they present another problem because they will not sit upright in a bag or on a car seat, so anytime they go for a ride further than from the counter to a restaurant booth the potential is high for an upside down mess upon opening.

Sorry for the digression. Back to the hot dogs.

So when I pried open the coffins, before I even noticed that the hot dogs were tepid, I saw another bad omen: Large - nay, giant - chunks of onion. The chunks were so large that I felt that I needed to measure them like one would a trophy buck's antlers, so I broke out a measuring tape to document the enormity of them. Now after reviewing literally hundreds of hot dogs over the years, I have never once employed a measuring instrument during a review, but as they say, there is a first time for everything. The largest chunks were  1 3/4" long with most being in the 3/4" to one inch range. Very impressive, but not in a good way: Onions should be so finely chopped as to virtually disappear into the slaw.

Which brings us to the slaw: While the texture was pretty good, the taste was about as average as it could possibly be. Next item please.

Chili - OK, to call this substance chili (or even sauce for you Ohio Valley and North Central folks) would be wrong. It might aspire to be chili someday, but it was completely lacking in any spice or moisture. The meat was finely ground (like one might do if they were going to make a serious batch of hot dog chili) and was browned well (like one might do if they were going to make a serious batch of hot dog chili), but it has no discernible flavor other than meat and was so dry that it seemed to siphon liquid from the slaw. Taking a whole mouthful-sized bite of this dog caused me to immediately go for a glass of water just so I could make it go down the correct direction.

And yet for all of these problems, this hot dog wasn't completely bad. It did have a nicely soft bun and decent weight, volume and overall texture. The bland slaw and tasteless pseudo-chili actually sort of complimented each other, so the result was not terrible. It certainly did not taste like what a West Virginia Hot Dog should taste like, but as food stuff goes, it wasn't objectionable.

So we'll give The Corner Kitchen a 2.5 Weenie score.

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