November 14, 2009
We had heard plenty of good things about this place, and have yet to see a bad restaurant idea come out of a Liz Lessner, so we were just about salivating at the prospect of trying her latest one out.
But, I have to admit I did have my doubts about the location. As we drove to the restaurant we passed many empty buildings and the palace borders downtown in a, let's just say less happening (or more happening, I guess, depending on what you're looking for) part of town. We parked and then passed 2 sets of cops and one ambulance just as we walked a short block to the place. I somewhat worried that I might see a drive by, but I just pushed those worries away as I dreamt of the different hot dog possibilities!
We saw a hipster type crowd hanging outside and figured that was a good sign. As I looked inside I saw an equal number of 20 to 30 somethings enjoying time out and parents with young children enjoying a more adult friendly hot dog scene. It was 7ish on a Saturday night so there was a short wait, mainly due to the cozy size of the space. We put our names on the list and remarked that we were glad it was an unseasonably warm evening for mid-November as we settled into standing around outside. There was not a spare inch to force ourselves into inside! Keep this in mind if you're planning on stopping by on a busy, cold winter night.
We waited probably no more than 15 minutes before we were seated. The decor, in true Lessner style, was kitschy retro fun. We especially loved the Masters of the Universe specials menu. There were retro kitchen tables that were made famous in the 50's and 60's paired with the common wood kitchen chair from the 80's. A mix of baseball and rock n roll decor covered the walls.
The drink menu was just way too much fun with classic sodas such as RC, Frostop Rootbeer, and Red Pop; liquor spiked cherry and lime slushes; floats made with Jeni's ice cream, and cult beers such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Blatz, and Schlitz. I couldn't dream of better accompaniments for gourmet hot dogs.
I opted for the Two Tickets to Paradise which was a cherry slush (should have also had lime slush in it, but they were out), Monin Chipotle Pineapple syrup, pineapple Malibu Rum, and citrus rum. It quickly took me back to a Sandals resort and fun in the sun.
Erik loved the reference on the menu to drinking in the 80s and had to go with the Alabama Slammer made with Amaretto, Southern Comfort, Slo Gin Sour, 7 Up, and a splash of OJ. Neither of us were drinking in the 80s, so no walk down memory lane, but we can appreciate what made this drink so popular!
hot dog menu. We had a really hard time deciding on which hot dogs to try and I enlisted the help of our friendly server. With her help I decided on the T Dog. Erik went with the Ohioana, and we got an order of tater tots to share.
Overall, all the dogs we ordered were Vienna Beef, which made for a nice snap when you bit down. However, there were other options of jumbo beef, Tofurkey veggie dog, Polish sausage, and brats. Each dog was served on a poppy seed bun, which was a nice change of pace.
The T-Dog was topped with Sriracha mustard, roasted red peppers, bacon bits, and cheddar. This was really wonderful. The roasted red pepers really made the dog, but all the flavors blended well together, and the Sriracha gave it just an extra kick of flavor that made the finish perfect. Great recommendation from the server!
The Ohioana was topped with a spicy corn relish and celery salt. It was also good, but a little bland tasting when compared to the awesomeness of the T-Dog.
As for the tater tots, these were close enough to the school lunchroom classic to make you nostalgic, but gourmet-afied enough that you could enjoy them with adult taste buds. Forget the somewhat soggy, undercooked, possibly cold tater tots of the lunchroom. These were served hot and had a perfect crunch on the outside. They were topped with a large grain (possibly pretzel?) salt that upped the flavor factor.
After this bounty I was full, but Erik was up for one more dog. He decided on the Nicola this time.
The Nicola was topped with typical gyro toppings such as a Tzatziki sauce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, etc. It mainly tasted like a gyro on a hot dog bun, which was okay, but not our favorite. I know gyro toppings are generally cold and that's likely what the restaurant was going for, but I didn't like the cold toppings on the hot dog. I would have preferred everything to be warmed.
Erik ordered one more drink to go with his Greek dog, a Yars Revenge. This was made of Jim Beam, So Co, blood orange juice, and ginger ale. However, a small mistake was made and the Rick Astley was brought to us instead. The server nicely let us keep it :) The Rick Astley was composed of Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea, vodka, and lemonade. We were glad for the mistake because the Yars Revenge had too much Jim Beam flavor in it for my preference. However, the Rick Astley was fabulous. It was smooth and sweet, but not too sweet. There was no taste of alcohol, which could lead to you quickly getting into trouble with these!
After this we were tempted by funnel fries, but ultimately decided we had had enough. As we walked out we were glad that we arrived when we did because quite a line was forming outside. While we were glad we didn't have to wait for long, we could certainly understand why others would.
I, for one, can't wait to go back. There are about 20 other hot dog styles that I'd love to try!
Bill Total: 3 hot dogs, tater tots, 3 cocktails, and tip=$29.74 (awesome experience for the price!)
Overall Rating: 5 buckeyes~ This is based on wonderful atmosphere, great value, great food, and a restaurant concept that is just too much fun!