Monday, August 31, 2020

Charleston HDJ Review - Cook Out

While we typically shy away from reviewing hot dogs from chain restaurants unless the chain is West Virginia based, we are making an exception for Cook Out. Read on to find out why.

Cook Out is based in North Carolina and has over 25 locations throughout the southeast. Recently it has moved into West Virginia and now has locations in Charleston, Huntington and Beckley. All of the W. Va. Cook Out restaurants occupy buildings that were built and formerly run as Bojangles Fried Chicken franchises. 

And can we take a minute and talk about Bojangles? Of course they had no hot dogs, so we won't take up too much space here, but man, what a meteoric ride that was! Some will remember the news stories that went viral about the traffic nightmares that were created when Huntington Bojangles first opened in April of 2016, and similar problems occurred in Cross Lanes and Charleston. Three years later, by June of 2019, poof, they were all gone.

Bojangles' boom and bust was a boon for Cook Out, which moved into these abandoned shells like hermit crabs and began selling chargrilled hamburgers, chicken, BBQ, milkshakes and hot dogs. 

One of the hot dogs on the menu is the "Cook Out Style" and it is the reason we have decided to break our "no chains" rule. This hot dog, as if placed here by divine intervention, has toppings listed as "homemade chili, slaw, mustard and onions." Just the way God intended hot dogs to be prepared. How could we not review it?

Now it's not surprising that a chain based in North Carolina would have have slaw on its hot dog. On this blog we've documented the migration of the Chili/Slaw hot dog from West Virginia (where it originated in the 1920s) to North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s. It's so prevalent there now that younger North Carolinians have come to believe it is their state's invention. We know better, and we're happy our prodigal hot dog has found its way home.

When we opened the black coffin in which our hot dog was delivered, it looked right. A good helping of slaw covered everything and the size and heft seemed good. At first grab, however, it was evident that the bun was either stale or slightly toasted and pretty stiff. 

The slaw looked like standard food service issue, too coarse and fairly tasteless, but the chili was several cuts above the ordinary. The color of the chili was deep brown and its texture was perfect. The taste was complex with just a little chili powder-induced spiciness. 

Overall a pretty satisfying hot dog for a chain. We'll give it a 3 1/2 Weenie Rating. If not for the hard bun we could have gone 4.