Archive for the ‘Hot Dogs’ Category
I was prepared for three things – to wait awhile for a table, to have to pay more than I wanted to, and for lousy service due to the crowds. None of the three happened. We were seated immediately, despite nearly a full house, the prices were unbelievably reasonable, and the service was prompt, continuous, and affable. So I over tipped.
“Over the top” bloody mary cocktails has become a “thing” latey, and Sobelman’s has it down to an art, offering a half dozen varieties. My order was pretty near the low end of the scale, and didn’t take all that long to get served, despite the crowds.
Sobelmans has their own version of an ‘amuse bouche,’ as the waitress handed us short glasses of beer (4 ounces?) the moment we sat at the table. She was back quickly to take the order, and for the table, we had the “Masterpiece,” and one that I missed the name of that featured chunks of buffalo flavored chicken on a skewer, along with the other accompaniments. My Masterpiece had a slider, sausage, jumbor shrimp, olive, cheese, pickle, mushroom, celery stalk, pickled green bean, and one lonely Brussel sprout.
The waitress had an absolutely perfect answer for my question on whether or not it was a single shot of vodka; she replied “they free pour.”
Bloody mary mix is very good, medium spice, medium tomato juice “thickness” and is supplied by a local company called Jimmy Luv’s. At the extreme end of the bloody mary menu is one with all the kind of stuff previously mentioned, and an ENTIRE WHOLE FRIED CHICKEN. That one goes for $50. They have special bacon-themed ones, as well.
We also had an order of fries, and “bacon cheese crack,” deep fried cheese fritters laced with bits of bacon. Oh my.
Now depending on whom you ask, these special bloodys are only served on Saturday and Sunday, or just Sunday. I couldn’t resolve that.
What’s funniest of all? Sobelman’s always gets voted “best burger in Milwaukee,” and I went there to have one, and didn’t!
Take a gander at the burger menu before heading over. Lots of appys, sandwiches, and the proverbial Wisconsin Friday nite fish fry.
This is a great experience. Top quality ingredients, creative flair, extremely fair pricing, and good service.Oh, and a good assortment of table top condiments at the reach. Do it.
Sobelmans Pub and Grill Review
When the owners of The Company Burger were choosing suppliers, they spared no effort to find the best, and ended up with Creekstone Farms from Kansas for the beef, and Wisconsin’s Nueske’s for the hot dogs. They make some condiments in-house, and the meticulous preparation shows.
Company set out to offer the consummate American cheeseburger, and succeeds on every count. The classic comes with American cheese, house made bread and butter pickles, and red onions. Note to Company? Add a dill option. Thank you.
The onion ring stack was superb, but I’d like a larger order.
The beef blend that the owners devised with the Creekstone is absolutely perfect, very flavorful, probably a brisket, chuck, short rib blend, with just the righ amount of fat.
They have tots, sweet potato fries and pork rinds, with a large compliment of local craft beers along side some national brands and cocktails.
Switch it up if you’re in the mood with a lamb or turkey patty; eschew meat? Try the grilled cheese.
The Company Burger is located uptown, and open every day at 11 AM, except Tuesday when they take a break.
With fresh ground in house quality beef, a choice of meat or veggie patties plus occasional special offerings and Zweigle Beef Hot Dogs, Tru Burger has a lot going for it in a city (now) rich in quality burger offerings. Until this raft of new burger places openings, locals favored a pitiful outlet on the east border of the Quarter, whose real claim to fame was serving an oversized baked potato (WTF?) with their burgers. Never impressive, IMHO.
I went to Tru in search of a Zweigle, as I have had them at the source. (They are from Rochester, New York). I lived with a vegetarian woman in Paris, and we visited her home town in upstate New York, and she insisted on having mom get and prepare the local favorite Zweigle White Hot, a white hot dog in a natural casing. They were also available at a local joint where I lived in Portland, Oregon, and Zweigles makes a high quality dog.
Alas, the only dog option at Tru Burger was a skinless, and I’m a natural casing snob, so I ordered a burger. It took awhile to cook, but that’s OK. Burgers are served with “Tru Sauce”, pickles and raw onion.
When I am trying a new place (to me), I go with “as plain as possible” to get a true feeling for the individual ingredients. At Tru, you can add American, Swiss or Cheddar for 50 cents (I wish pimento cheese, a local favorite, was an option), as well as other condiments. The pickles are bread and butter, and I’m not really a fan, (preferring dill), but I know folks in the south like B&B pickles for the sweet factor.
Additional options include a fried egg, sausage patty, bacon, avocado and chili. Rest of the menu is over here ….. not there, here.
Tru is one of several places in New Orleans buying burger meat from Creekstone Farms, a Kansas beef purveyor, who I think now makes the finest burger meat in all the land.
New Orleans has a number of great burger places now, and Tru deserves a spot on that list. If you’re a visitor to the Crescent City, take the St Charles street car from the Quarter to Oak Street, and walk a few steps towards the river to hit the Tru. Check out their menu here.
(Dateline: Cincinnati, Byline: Mike Clark, Texas Bureau Chief)
This is a story about Cincinnati, Ohio, but there are hot dogs in it. Good ones.
Way back in the 19th Century, downtown Cincinnati was bisected east-to-west by the Miami and Erie Canal. Thousands of immigrant Germans took up residence north of the canal, prompting everyone else in the city to nickname the canal after that majestic German river, the Rhine. And the neighborhood where all the Germans lived was called “Over the Rhine.” Today, the locals shorten that to “OTR.”
The canal is long gone, filled in and paved over with eight lanes of concrete known as the Central Expressway. OTR itself, full of Italianate architecture, a classic example of a 19th Century urban neighborhood, gradually fell into decay. Actually, “decay” is being polite.
Fast forward to the late 20th Century, when OTR is declared a national historic landmark, and forward again to the 21st Century, when significant resources are marshaled to renovate the blight and recover the neighborhood. As little as five years ago, OTR was a place where genteel folk would not dare set foot; but today, it is Cincinnati’s vibrant new district for the arts, entertainment, recreation, and food.
One of the gentrification pioneers in the food category is Senate Pub, self-described as “lo-fi pushers of beer, wine & gourmet street food.” Senate took up residence on Vine Street just a block and a half north of the Rhine. Roughly one-third of the menu at Senate is taken up with hot dogs – or to be more clear, quarter-pound all-beef dogs with eclectic gourmet dressings. Witness:
The Trailer Park — bacon wrapped, american cheese, coleslaw, crushed grippos (local, flavored tater chips);
The Chicago — tomato, mustard, onion, neon relish, sport peppers, pickle & celery salt; and,
The Lindsay Lohan — goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, balsamic & tons of drama…
…to name a few. If for some reason you’re dogged out, the other two thirds of the menu at Senate are just as eclectic, including their version of the Canadian staple Poutine, and some to-die-for Pretzel Dough Beignets served warm in a brown paper bag (the better to shake the sugar coating), accompanied by a caramel mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) spread so rich it should be illegal. All this combines to make Senate one very popular place.
You’ll see from Senate’s web site that their success has generated a little ego baggage – Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) showed up with his camera crew last year, and if you’re willing to shell out $39.99 plus tax, you can have your very own Senate Cookbook – but a little hard-earned ego does not diminish the quality of the eats even one bit.
Senate occupies a single storefront, so seating is limited to the bar, a single row of tables opposite, and a few more in the back. The wait for a table can sometimes exceed an hour. Go early or go late, or if the place is full, get your name on the list and then go browse some of the boutique shops that continue to spring up in the ancient storefronts Over the Rhine. Senate will call your cell when your table is ready.
And while you’re in OTR, listen for the ghosts of 19th Century Germans. They wail mournfully for Senate to start serving Bratwurst & Kraut.
Senate Pub Review
(Good &) deLish is one of Walgreen’s food brands, along with Nice! and a couple others. They have a lot of heat and eat foods in their coolers these days, including burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and appetizers. I’ve tried the burgers and the pizza.
These hot dog puffs come in a pack of 8 for $2.50 6.4 ounces), on the shelf next to them were boneless wings and spanakopita. The selling points on the package here are “no preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or high fructose corn syrup.”
They are further advertised as “uncured beef mini franks wrapped in a flaky butter puff pastry.”
Ingredient list: Puff Pastry , (Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour , (Wheat Flour , Malted Barley Flour , Niacin , Reduced Iron , Thiamin Mononitrate , Riboflavin , Folic Acid) , Butter (Pasteurized Cream) , (Beef , Beef , water , Contains Less Than 2% of the Following , Contains Less Than 2% of the Following) , (Allspice , Celery Juice Powder , Evaporated Cane Syrup , Garlic Powder , Ginger , Honey , Lactic Acid Starter Culture (Not from dairy) , Mustard , Nutmeg , Onion Powder , Paprika , Pepper , Sea Salt).
Celery juice is the “new MSG” doncha know? Wish they didn’t have cane syrup and honey in them, but oh well.
Instructions call for 18-20 minutes in a pre-heated 375 oven. After 18 minutes, they were only at the soggy dough factor. (Left). So I tried for another ten minutes (28 total). Then another five minutes. I’ve heard of “your results may vary,” but this seems a little extreme! After 32 minutes they had (sort of) crisped up and were showing signs of their advertised “flaky pastry.” But they certainly don’t look like the ones on the package but that’a a curse of our society in general, things are just not like they are advertised (including people). *Yes, my $7000 oven is calibrated).
Fortunately I had made a couple of gallons of chicken and dumplings today, so I wasn’t going to starve.
I waited a few minutes before sampling to see if that mattered. It didn’t. The franks have good flavor, but the ‘blankets’ never got crispy. So I’ve tried ‘em, won’t buy them again.
BTW, you know a frozen pasty that really rocks? Try Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants. Really.
According to the USDA establishment number on the package ( 31924), these babies are made for Walgreens by Pegasus Foods of Los Angeles. Pegasus says they make premium ethnic, Mediterranean, and gourmet food of different ilks. They apparently do a large contract manufacturing business, in addition to Walgreens, they work for Cinnabon and Melrose Kitchen.
They started in 1998 as a contract manufacturer specializing in filo dough products.
And now you now “the rest of the story.”
DeLish Hot Dog Puffs
For the unwashed, the Varsity is the world’s largest hot dog stand. Covering two acres in downtown , with parking for 600 cars, and seating for 800, the Varsity has been dishing up dogs, burgers, fries, rings, and their famous “Frosted Orange” beverage since 1928 under the watchful eye of Frank Gordy and his descendants.
Initially operating under the name “The Yellow Jacket” Gordy served hot dogs and bottled Coca-Cola (what else in ?) to Georgia Tech students. Not wishing to limit his clientele to one particular school, the name change came shortly thereafter, along with the move to the present location.
When you sidle up to the counter, and hear the famous cry from the clerks: “What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?” it helps to know the proper retort. There’s much more, but this will get you past the basics of ordering:
- Hot Dog: Hot dog with chili and mustard
- Heavy weight: Same as hot dog but with extra chili
- Naked Dog: Plain hot dog in a bun
- MK Dog: Hot dog with mustard and ketchup
- Regular C Dog: Hot dog with chili, mustard and ketchup
- Red Dog: Ketchup only
- Yellow Dog: Mustard only
- Yankee Dog: Same as a yellow dog
- Walk a Dog (or Steak): Hot dog to go
- Steak: Hamburger with mustard, ketchup, and pickle
- Chili Steak: Hamburger with Varsity chili
- Glorified Steak: Hamburger with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato
There are 5 locations these days . But the original is the place for the complete Varsity experience. Bring the kids, but not much money. A meal at the Varsity is well under five bucks. Unless you order like I do.
varsity atlanta reviews
I have expressed my concerns here about the infiltration of restaurant brands into the grocery aisles on many occasions. While I realize these companies (or their licensees) are trying to extend their brand names and develop new sources of revenues, very rarely is the product anywhere near the taste / texture of what you will find at the restaurant. Usually a disappointment with very few exceptions.
Unless you live in a cave, you know about Nathan’s Hot Dog stand at Coney Island in New York City. If for no other reason than they are the sponsor of the annual 4th of July hot dog eating contest – the one hour of the year I can bear to watch ESPN.
They are the fifth largest seller of packaged weenies in US grocery stores, and over the past couple of years, they have extended their brand by manufacturing and distributing snack foods to grocery stores. The line includes pickles, condiments, salty snacks, and a couple of frozen items, fries and rings. I’ve tried a few of these types of products from other brands, including the Steak N Shake and Fatburger frozen burgers, and Red Robin’s fries.
So tonight it’s Nathan’s frozen rings, there are about 30 in a bag (six servings, it says), and the ingredients are: Onions, Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Beer (Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast, Salt), Corn Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Salt, Dextrose, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Whey (Milk), Guar Gum, Spice and Coloring, Natural Flavors, Spices, Sorbitol. Contains: Wheat, Milk.
The directions call for placing them on a cookie sheet, sprayed with pam, baking the frozen rings at 400 for 14-16 minutes, turning once.
I don’t know how these compare to the rings at the restaurants, I’ve never had them. How’s this product? It had the potential to be great. The breading crisped up nicely, which surprised me, and the slices of onions were generous. However, over all, I thought they were awful. They had a distinctively odd taste, which for me, went back and forth between being reminiscent of freezer burn or being fried in old oil.
Just not appealing.
(Update, 3 weeks later). I had a half bag left and tried again. Ignoring the baking instructions, I had them in the oven with something else at 450 for 22 minutes. The results were much more satisfactory this way.
Fast food generally does a miserable job with onion rings, and Burger King leads the pack of bad rings. Are there any good ones? I think so. I think the Arby’s steakhouse rings are pretty good, if they are made when you order them.
Find a store near you that carries Nathan’s products, or buy them online here.
Nathans Frozen Onion Rings
In my previous posts about Kwik Trip, I reminisced about their roots, when I used to do some business with them and they only had a couple stores in LaCrosse, WI. Today, there are over 400 stores, and 12,000 employees. If you live in the Upper Midwest, there’s a store near you. What makes Kwik Trip unique and a master of its segment is that it has developed its own brand names over the years, and thus is able to assure quality and keep prices low. It’s a business maneuver 7-Eleven has started to copy recently with their own in-house brands.
KwikTrip was also one of the first to include healthy options in their take away food choices (also now being copied by 7-Eleven), and their ‘morning bar’ for variety of coffee and pastries is unequaled in the industry.
One thing new I noticed on my recent trip was the installation of a counter dedicated to fresh, vacuum packed meats – there is a small selection of roasts, steaks, dinner sausages and hot dogs, some from some of Wisconsin’s leading brands, like Klement’s, and some with a Kwik Trip label. For instance, they had a package of eight natural casing wieners for $2.99, and that’s about 40% less than other brands in grocery stores. Kwik Trip (packaged) wieners are make by Bakalars Sausage in LaCrosse (plant picture below); the reason I distinguished the description with “packaged” is because their hot sausage/dog roller grill feature products from Johnsonville, Ball Park, and others.
I understand the company treats employees well, too. Great products, prices, and management. Kwik Trip gets my c-store dollar when I’m in the area.
(THIS BUSINESS IS NOW CLOSED).
I love story tellers. I like to tell stories, too. I’m not so good at it. but I know someone who is.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of my likes and dislikes are words used in cuisine reviews these days – like “fusion”, or “mash-up”. and this prejudice probably comes (as I date myself) from the days when I first started experiencing “nouveau” or “California cuisine,” which were code words for “little tiny portions that we are gonna make you really pay through the nose for.”
But when I raise the topic of words I don’t like to use in my writing, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy gently prods me and sez “But, BurgerDogBoy,” those are words and phrases that people have come to expect when you are talking about something new!” And I reply (grumble, grumble), and continue to look for new ways to describe food innovation.
But proper, descriptive words and phrases escape me when it comes to trying to define one of the newer efforts in Portland’s food cart scene – the tale of Budd and Grae Lewis with their “Domo Dogs.” I first encountered them, but didn’t have a chance to try their product, when they started selling their innovative ‘tubular nutritional delivery vehicles” (that’s what franks are called in the trades these days), in front of the Asian hypermart, “H-Mart” (Open 365 day! their banner proclaims!) on 99w, in Tigard.
The Domo Dog people have since journeyed to a number of other locations, seeking out their own slice of food-cart nirvana. That having eluded them for now, you’ll catch them at various special events and neighborhood festivals. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I caught up with them last nite at “Last Thursday” in the Alberta Street neighborhood.
What does this have to do with me loving story-tellers? Simple. Budd Lewis is one story-teller extraordinaire. As you are waiting for your order, one can easily nudge Budd into a tale from his most extraordinary life – whether that yarn is one from his days of working for film icons Roger Corman or James Cameron, shooting beloved national television commericals, or weaving a tale of of audio suspense, like this one, his recent saga of a Halloween night in his home town of New Orleans, .
Budd, with a gravely, passionate, accented voice, straight out of the heart of Acadiana, weaves a story with the same panache and finesse he puts into creating his very special treats, Domo Dogs, which he has named “Japanese Fusion Hot Dogs.”
What exactly does that mean? In all cases, it means he starts with a quality, hefty, sake-steamed sausage, finished off on a grill, before placing it in a high-quality toasted bun.
In the case of the “Major Domo”, the sausage is topped with teriyakai marinaded onions, ponzu-mayo, sweet chili sauce, and flaked seaweed and sesame seeds. You know the joy of biting into a great hot dog on the 4th of July, with all your favorite toppings, crisp and fresh? Compared to that, the Major Domo is like biting into Cirque du Soleil, and having astonishing performers dance around your taste “budds” such as you couldn’t even having imagined before your first bite! In the case of the Domo Yaki, starting with the same steamed sausage and bun, but topped with daikon sprouts, coconut cream peanut sauce, and teri-mayo, it’s like sitting in same said performance, experiencing all the joys and wonders in front of your eyes, and having a parade of concessionaires selling sweet desserts, dump their trays accidentally onto your face; you, slowly, deliberately, licking their wares of your face until you just can’t eat any more. Order your dog “half and half” and experience “dinner” at the Major end, turn it around, and get your “dessert” with the Yaki end, at least that’s how Grae Lewis first described it to me, and I can’t take exception to her own description. In the European tradition, these opposites would come from the ‘sweet or savory’ selections of edibles.
As interested as the Lewis’ were in my reaction, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy was watching me intently as I took my first tentative bites. She knows I’m not much for food innovation, and she would describe me as a food purist and/or snob. (OK, yes, you’re right, she thinks I am a snob about a lot of things!) (But loves me in spite of that, so pfffffffffffffffffffffft). (Further update – actually along the way, we discovered she never loved me!).
loves me the most when I flash a smile that goes from ear -to-ear, and that’s what she saw on me last night, with each bite of my dog.
So what’s with the title of my post? Domo Dogs are worth beating a path to Budd and Grae’s door, wherever they set up (and you can find out where they will be on their FB page), but while you are waiting for the circus in your mouth to launch, get Budd to weave you a tale of wonder and awe from his most astonishing life; or a story that starts with you asking a traditional Southern Louisiana question, “how’s your mama and them?”
You’ll be spellbound, literally, as your ears feast on his wonderful stories, and your mouth screams with excitement as you bite into a Domo Dog.
These fine people deserve all the accolades and success that Portlandians bestow on the real winners of our creative food cart culture. And when their success, dogs, and special sauces are everywhere across our great land, you’ll be able to tell your children that you stood in line for a Domo Dog, ‘back in the day’, and when Budd himself was weaving tales, and tending the grill. And you heard it here first: hot dogs will be the next national ‘craze’, pushing “gourmet burgers’ to an also-ran category. Trust me on this.
(Postscript) Occasionally, Mrs. BDB reads one of these and points out things I miss. That’s her job. She reminded me last night that ‘less adventurous’ diners should note that Domo Dogs also serves some “American Style” dogs as well! They have a bona-fide chili dog, for example, and also offer an all beef dog with your choice of condiments! My apologies to all for not remembering to include these important facts – the Domo Dogs has something for everyone!
Portland Food Carts
A few weeks ago, I made frankfurters at home, I usually do this once or twice a year. The recipe is rather simple beef and pork on a 2/1 ratio, paprika, black pepper, celery seeds, garlic powder, dry milk powder, ground mustard, white pepper,coriander, and salt. You process this all, adding ice cubes slowly until you get a slurry of meat product which can easily slide into the casings, natural or not, your choice; my preference is always natural. You can refrigerate them to consume in the next week, freeze them, or smoke them and then freeze.
Well, I was a little ambitious on the meat, and had a lot left over that I froze in one pound packs, and have been using for various things. Wednesday is my hamburger day, and I didn’t feel like going out, and had no pure ground beef in the house, so I used a pound of the weenie mixture and shaped it into three patties.
Because of the content, the patties carmelized a little in the pan, and the distinctive color is a result of the spices. You’ll note from the pic of the sliced burger, that this is beyond a fine grind, and so the patty tends to be chewier, lacking the air pockets you find in most ground meats.
But for me, flavor was excellent, and I dressed them with dijon/mayo mixture and dill slices. I’ll make them again, and maybe not only when I have left over frankfurter meat!